A group of citizens concerned about urban sprawl engage in public awareness activities. On September 7th and 8th they will be holding their second annual cycling and folk music festival (https://www.holdthelinewr.org) They conducted a questionnaire directed at candidates running for municipal offices in Waterloo Region. Here are my responses.
Responses to Hold the Line Questionnaire
1. Will you defend the countryside line against amendments and updates to the Official Plan that threaten to weaken its protections?
The countryside line was introduced by Waterloo Region in 2003 for a reason. Its primary purpose is to control development and urban sprawl. I grew up just behind Westmount Public School at a time when Westmount road marked the urban / rural divide. In fact I had a friend who lived about 1 kilometer up Glasgow and to get there felt like driving deep into the countryside on a gravel road. My, how things have changed!
I strongly believe that building up rather than out, is in the best interest of rural and urban populations. Setting geographical limits and respecting those limits of urban expansion are the only ways to ensure that cities stop expanding into rural areas. Rural farmland is what feeds us and what creates healthier communities. By reducing our personal ecological footprint (eg. buying local produce at the local markets, Bailey’s Local Foods and the many food basket offerings) and the city’s ecological footprint (building up) we contribute to reducing greenhouse gasses, a primary cause of global warming.
I am committed to defending the countryside line against amendments and updates to the Official Plan that would threaten farmland.
2. How will you work to protect prime agricultural areas, the Waterloo moraine, and drinking water?
I will speak up against boundary expansions and modifications to the Official Plan. I will substantiate my position by referencing Provincial, Regional and City guidelines and legislation that set those limits in the first place. I will contest proposals that encroach on the Waterloo moraine or that threaten sources of our drinking water. The population is growing, but further sprawl is out of the question.
3. As our population grows, how should Waterloo Region plan for new development?
While some developers object to the countryside line, it is not negotiable. Waterloo Region can plan for new development by building up and not out. Developers do not always represent our interests and for this reason I have included in my platform an overview of how building up needs to be done responsibly and needs to take into consideration established neighbourhoods, green spaces, the tree canopy, urban forest etc. I advocate bringing citizens to the table and giving them a voice in the decision-making process, something that I believe will serve to ensure that we get it right. We all have a stake in this.