The Maple Grove Wetlands Association is a neighbourhood association, initiated in response to the pressing need to have local resident/landowner participation in the City sponsored planning studies that were taking place in the north Cambridge, Ontario landscape.
The consultants that had been hired seemed in the impression of the locals, to be somewhat aloof, and beyond listening to the people, several of whom had lived their lifetimes in the area. Then came the recommendations, which the people described as "onerous". Municipal planning without the voice of the people, wasn't working all that well.
The history will be documented elsewhere. But in brief, Ward Councillor Rick Cowsill, and others, and Mayor Doug Craig listened to the rising crescendo of complaints at the Council meetings, and the list of defects that were being found by the public. Finally, the Mayor got up and apologized for the flawed study, and has since approved a process which provides the forum for getting the issues corrected. Thank you Mayor Craig for listening.
So, we met, and organized, and have been meeting regularly ever since. I mean that our steering committee meets twice a month. Add to that, we also meet with the City twice a month for our HWSS Working Committee process. Add to that, preparation time and so forth. So it's been a real busy first year for us.
So what do we stand for? What idealism drives us? Well, don't try to pigeon hole us.
We are about responsible use of environment. We don't want our natural environment carelessly devastated by wanton human inclination. Human wantonness can be manifested in careless business practices as in needless bureaucracy.
Responsible use. Study ecology and you'll notice that survival means competition -- often, competition for food resources. Those among us realistic enough to understand that human beings are a part of this ecology, note that we too compete for scarce resources. Human social and economic factors must be part of the equation.
Environment. The "Ducks Unlimited" advertisement sums it up succinctly: "Wetlands filter your water." The Association favours the preservation of wetlands and environment -- it is a win-win for humans and creatures alike. Adjoining uplands are necessary for creature habitat and desirable for human recreation.
We are in a tenuous balancing act. With the West Nile Virus being in the news so much, it is recognized that wetlands are also prime mosquito breeding grounds.
Though the wetlands are generally regarded undevelopable lands, their economic value is somewhat lower, the adjacent upland areas have considerable economic value even if presently forested. It is the desire of Association to preserve as many of the upland forests as we can, however, we prefer to do so using a stewardship approach rather than a regulation approach.
And recognizing that people may have legitimate uses for forests and for tree products. And if they paid the mortgage, they should be entitled to their benefits. Even if that entails clearing of land for agricultural cultivation, we must respect private property rights of individuals.
By stewardship we are assuming that people through knowledge and hopefully wisdom, make prudent decisions that in the long run promote the health of the natural state of the area. We want people to value the environment, the forests, and protect it because they do so.
By regulation we are assuming that the government slaps fines and jail terms on people who violate rules decreed into law or bylaw, and enforced by people in positions of power. It is our opinion that the loss of freedom this enjoins, and the antipathy that ill-designed rules may garner, makes this the least desirable, least effective, in the long term. It is a bit of an admission of failure, in our opinion. In Waterloo Region (County), this probably describes it.
When we say that we want to preserve the environment, however, we are faced with the reality that most of us don't have the picture of a completely wild environment. We tend to speak in terms of what we like about our surroundings, our gardens, our mowed lawn, our manicured trees, and our landscaped ponds and streams.
Most, do not to speak favourably of weeds, and that is the reason why we keep our grass cut. And, we like to keep the neighbour's grass cut. Near people's homes, we have a certain standard what is noxious. We like the outdoors, but we don't like to tempt our allergies more than we have to.
We tend to speak favourably of the birds, even feed them. However, skunks and wolves can readily become a nuisance. At some point environments become either unsuited for humans, or for some animals. We can improve on it considerably, but you can't have complete compatibility of urban and rural and all that implies, inside the city.
The other thing we stand for as a neighbourhood association, is for the protection of property rights.
We recognize the benefits of municipal planning. We also witness some of the crusty underbelly of ivory tower bureacracy. Most of us were not born with silver spoon in our mouths, and the properties we own are a result of hard work, prudent financial decisions, and plain dumb luck. Whatever the case, we don't want these plundered by the system.
When the system introduces measures that might increase our costs, or limit our rights, we ask the hard questions. What benefit do we receive in return? Is it a reaonable and worthwhile proposition? And, we look to our constituents to develop our position on issues, raising them with City Hall if necessary.
So, that is a bit of a historical/philosophical backgrounder on the Association. If you have any questions, please use the published contact information to contact us directly.
Copyright © E. J. Ritzmann.
Last Change $Date: 2004/07/24 17:40:57 $