By Mahesh P. Butani
Published February 26, 2010
Two cities in Ontario - Hamilton and Brantford - are presently witnessing lots of dirt being shoveled around in the name of progress.
Both cities, quite distinct and yet similar in their obtuse public ways, are on a development trajectory that has left their citizens gasping for breath from incomprehensible political actions.
One is hell-bent on destroying its past in the name of progress. The other is hell-bent on building an unsustainable future upon the toxic remains of its past.
For societies that are already thriving in many parts of the world on social enterprises that achieve public good while making a profit, understanding the current development approach of Hamilton and Brantford can be confusing.
They rightfully ask: Aren't such things supposed to happen only in the Third World?
Both these stories are unfolding in the First World in slow motion, under the hesitant glare of public scrutiny - both under the assumption that their brittle claims of transparent governance are good enough to continue governing.
Watching these two unguided projectiles hurtling through space, fueled by arrogance and ignorance, can be very sad and scary for those who already know better.
Sitting back and cynically watching these projectiles implode is now entertainment, for the many Ontarians who have been numbed out of their senses.
With the Canadian parliament prorogued, the province in deep debt, and municipal governance on a self-destructive trajectory, never before has a more clear path to self-organizing behavior been posed to the people of Hamilton and Brantford, than this moment.
I once again draw the attention to The Facelift and the Wrecking Ball: Urban Renewal and Hamilton's King Street West, 1957-1971 (PDF link) by Margaret T. Rockwell. Political futures and legacies depend on a successful reading of this document.
Before calls for heritage conservation and fiscal prudence turn into indignant international calls to protect the very ideals that Canada has projected to the world, we hope sanity will prevail in Hamilton and Brantford.
History only repeats itself when it is allowed to.
Ontarians can do better than this. Canadian politicians can do better than this. Canadian educational institutions can do better than this.
Let them look to the past, but let them also look to the future; let them look to the land of their ancestors, but let them look also to the land of their children.
-- Sir Wilfrid Laurier
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