Growing up could be the antidote to the controversy that comes with growing out.
In cottage county, where property owners invest in a life of tranquility and proximity to nature, municipalities face the same mandate as big-city leaders: increase your tax base in order to offer more services at a cheaper rate per taxpayer.
Traditionally, that means expanding – new subdivisions, new industrial parks, new commercial zones.
But, as green meets growth in an escalating battle of traditional economic accomplishment versus the dawning realization that our natural surroundings are in fact limited, a new future for small-town Ontario might be taking shape.
Parry Sound’s forced to grow up, not out, because it has reached its legislated boundaries. Without a deal to absorb sections of surrounding townships (a deal attempted, but that ultimately failed with Seguin Township) there’s nowhere to go but up.
Perhaps, that’s a good thing.
In our area, the cottage investor who buys or builds a state-of-the-art summer home, then decries the fact someone else plans to build on the same lake and endanger water quality, tranquility, fauna, etc… plays over and over again. Last week, Port Severn leaders bemoaned the impact rules for preserving the Eastern Fox snake will have on attracting new development.
Everywhere, municipal governments face a conundrum: driven by growth, impeded by green.
As it becomes more difficult to grow out, growing up, on sites that have long been the footprints of buildings or parking lots, is a win-win solution. Circumstances have forced Parry Sound to look skyward and increasing density on in-town land.
So, we have gorgeous state-of-the art condos, and plenty of potential in an abandoned hospital building, a soon-to-be-vacated school and several other sites in town.
Maybe circumstances are setting an example for all area communities, large and small. Up is the new out. It allows that inevitable growth. It also preserves more of the untouched land that attracted many of us here in the first place.