Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kanata: It hasn’t been paradise for a long time.

imageIn 1960 the former City of Kanata was nothing more than forest and farm lands just outside the Ottawa Greenbelt. Then developer Bill Teron acquired about 12 square kilometres of land and started building his “model community”.

Skip forward 50 years to find that by now over 130 square kilometres of woodlands and farms have been developed, providing homes for about 90,000 people. The separation between Kanata and Stittsville has been all but erased as both communities grew and the boundary lines became blurred, and the town of Carp is next to be subsumed. And the development continues unabated, providing more roads, housing complexes, office buildings, and shopping centres, all designed to attract even more residents and businesses to the area.

Now there’s a big fight underway over one particular tract of land that developers have owned for decades, and are now starting to develop. And the outcry from the local burghers as what has until now been essentially a free park (bought and paid for by developers) is about to go under the dozer just like the previous 130 square kilometers is deafening.

All those people who are themselves now living on once was productive farmland and pristine forests apparently see no irony in their political action to stop this development. “Where will we walk our dogs?”, they cry.  “Where will we cross country ski?” they bleat. And spare me the oh-so-righteous indignation that drips from their calls for the developer to “do the right thing” and give the property to the city so the locals will still have a place to “experience nature” without, presumably, having to get in their SUVs and drive down the road a piece.

Clearly there need to be controls on urban growth and, I suppose, in the case of Kanata it’s better late than never. But for all those beneficiaries of past developments to decry this initiative strikes me as nothing more than the height of hypocrisy.

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