In my previous editorial I wrote about the supplanting of Canadiana by the “rush of the reach” of large bureaucratic urban design efforts, ignoring existing facilities and communities social structures. I commented on the practical loss of cooperative will at a local level, when it's forced in a direction which is not it's goal, and in contrast, how larger government methods of financial favours, political pressure and implementing redesign projects in communities, is seen as intimidation instead of investment. I extended an olive branch, considering the possible naivete with which these efforts are driven, however, I tried to show how destructive they can be in communities when existing resources are looked over or bulldozed under by programs without vito control given to the communities that are affected. This is in large part due to the fact that government has no real concept of the heart of these communities, some of this is not their fault and some clearly is.
Consultation doesn't work, as it often brings out the squeaky wheel and neglects the already greased one, the one that represents the way things are rolling, the local cooperative flow. It fails to comprehend what individuals and local groups are already invested in, and seeks to presume for them what is best. This is an insult to cultural integrity, and we can't afford a loss of integrity in our Canada, it's getting harder to come by the genuine article.
I remember when I was young, we moved into a small community in Durham region. Even though officially we were welcome, I experienced little acceptance from local people my age and it took many years before I was looked at as one of their own. My parents had less trouble but still needed to work hard to break through the local establishment, in a real way. We came to be embraced, eventually, in a very deep warm level. We had moved all over Ontario until landing in this small community, but never were we appreciated in the manner that we came to be by this small town.
The point I'm trying to make is, it takes a long time and much real effort to contextualize your interests so they are properly understood in a culturally considerate way.
Culture is made up of many sub-cultures and those sub-cultures are communities. Much has been made of respecting culture as identity in Canada, especially by our French Canadian citizens. They have battled very successfully to teach the rest of us that language expresses the nature of a culture and the mindset that makes it up. They have argued that to rob a people of that mindset is akin to a kind of extermination. What size of community is too small for this to apply to. Are we willing to just walkover the small community and commit cultural genocide? Let's learn to talk in the voice and walk in the shoes of the people we are affecting, it's the only way that culture will survive and respect will thrive amidst the need to grow. These are God's ways, to come along side and see through another's eyes. Governments could do well, adhering to this approach to growth.
To implement this, agendas could be set in local contexts and local timing. Or even the sale of unused government buildings could go to local pre-established service groups, because local resources and will are more available to them. By backing them initially, with tax credits and incentives, refitting or reconstruction could bring these valuable community pivot points to new life, not to mention the integrity this would extend to the local communities. I'm thinking of the people that use the facilities, being given the chance to offer solutions, sometimes even to the point of saying the word ‘no’ as final.
If governments would just learn to yield and not dictate, then even if they needed to partially financially support re-purposing or revitalization efforts, things would still be cheaper for them, because the ongoing responsibility would fall to the service groups, unloading the tax burden and putting the government in a warmer support role instead of a cold one.
An example of this is the decision by “City of Kawartha Lakes” in 2016 to continue the operation of local ice rinks in Woodville, Oakwood, Ops, Emily-Omemee, Little Britain and Manvers indefinitely. This culturally sensitive move ensured children and families the intimate experience of another small part of our Canadian culture. Maybe there is a future Wayne Gretzky that will be nurtured in a safe corner of a real Canadian place.
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