The people have spoken
What an honour it was to stand for hours with the crowd outside the courtroom last week, and listen through the public address system to the passion and honest eloquence of our fellow neighbours, (most of whom I’ve never met before), as each in turn described why they are proud to call the Villages of Heart Lake and the City of Brampton, home.
Community members had gathered for this one opportunity afforded us at the ongoing Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) proceedings to voice our opinions regarding the controversial high-rise development proposed for the north-west corner of Sandalwood Parkway and Conestoga Drive, the last piece of undeveloped land at the heart of the Heart Lake community.
Although the number of residents permitted to speak was limited to ten, there were scores more of us on hand to bear witness to this democratic process, the outcome of which will forever affect the quality of life in our neighbourhood.
Despite these limitations, I personally took consolation in the assurance from the presiding OMB chair that her decision would be based not on the quantity, but the quality of testimony and evidence presented throughout the proceedings, because if that is true, the quality of residents’ testimony couldn’t have been better. Thank you neighbours.
One Canadian troubadour sang: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”
Well, what we’ve got in Heart Lake isn’t gone, not yet, not if we can help it. And though it may not be “paradise,” we demonstrated again last night that we do value living here in a family based, human-scale community where our system of government, planners and developers got a lot of things right. We only want that to continue, to improve where possible, and not to be squandered.
As one resident voiced his frustration with the current process of appeal to the OMB: “The developers have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Whereas, we residents have nothing to gain and everything to lose.”
Sometime soon we’ll all hear the decision from the OMB regarding this proposal in our community.
As I see it, that decision will read like a barometer for how democracy is fairing in this fair country.
The people have spoken, unequivocally, as have our elected officials. We stand united in defending our community and values. We are watching, our children are watching. That’s what this really comes down to.