Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Things I want to see for Newmarket

This a rework of a post on another blog from last year, it seemed appropriate to move it over for a more local audience.

In light of peak oil, pollution, global warming and those pesky food security issues that are dear to my heart(and belly) there are a great many things I’d like to see happen to make Newmarket a better and more sustainable place for what I believe will be a harder more austere future.

No more irrational development, yes we should increased density but stop building those damn 4000 sq ft homes, and stop allowing big box developments. Mixed use high density is the best model, each block should have a grocer, a restaurant, a bar, a play ground etc. Grouping all the retail and services around main arteries that no one can walk to is insane.

LEEDs certification for all new homes and major rebuilds, simple additions must be at least R2000 compliant. If people’s houses are so inefficient that they cannot heat them affordability you will get people freezing in the dark or installing in wood stoves that create smog and lead to deforestation, not to mention the number of dumb asses that burn down their houses or gas themselves when they bring the BBQ inside.

New Commercial buildings must utilize their roofs as green roofs, Solar PV or Solar thermal applications, 12 year phase in for all existing commercial buildings, provided they can structurally support higher roof loads.

I’d like to see more open mindedness in the building codes regarding alternative building materials; Straw bail, earth bag, rammed earth etc. The carbon footprint of the building process must also be taken into account when building not just the day to day carbon use.

No more drive through businesses with notice that existing ones must be phased out in 5 years. Having both an anti idling law and numerous drive through restaurants and bank machines is irrational, either you're against idling or not.

I want the city to stop planting foreign ornamental trees everywhere. All trees should be indigenous species with at least half being productive varieties of fruits and nuts, providing both natural foods for wildlife and energetic citizens. Citizens should be encouraged to tend and harvest city trees.

I don’t want the Widening of Davis Drive for public transit lanes.
Peak oil is going to severely reduce the amount of public traffic on the roads within the next 10 years. Widening this road to accommodate transit on the assumption that oil availability or price will never impact car use is blinkered thinking. The age of the car is ending, stop building infrastructure that perpetuates a broken model.

I want people to come forward to found a transition town movement (I’ll certainly join and take part but I won’t kid myself that organization or consensus building skills are my strong point, I’m too much the lazy malcontent)
Transition towns is a great movement devoted to helping towns and communities adapt to peak oil and more self reliance.

I’d like to see the creation of a food not lawns movement. The wasted water, energy, time and fertilizer on grass are a national disgrace. The potential benefit to food security, biodiversity and the survival of pollinators greatly outweighs the benefit of the uniformly boring dead zone we call lawns. While it’s your right to have a lawn I it’s also my right to utilize my soil to grow food and not be harassed about its appearance if it’s properly tended

I also want moves towards the legalization of small urban livestock, hens, rabbits, dwarf goats as part of a greater Right to Farm legislation.
Many urban municipalities in the U.K. and U.S. are once again allowing the ownership of small numbers of well tended food animals. These towns realize that peak oil will eventually impact food production and shipping costs making local food relevant again.

I want to see tax relief and zoning concession that encourage land owners to lease, donate or even use their honking big lawns to grow food locally. Just drive around the Pony and Stellar Drive industrial area, the lawns on some of these properties could supply 100s of people with produce. The utilization of urban lands to feed people is becoming more prevalent

Stop jerking us around on community gardens. After years of improving the soil in Newmarket’s community garden the region is giving urban farmers the boot, our new location will be a dead field of clay adjacent to the Magna center. In reality the Magna location should be additional garden plots not replacement plots.

While we did get a one year reprieve on our existing location it won't happen again as construction of a new high rise Regional building is scheduled to begin next year. Since I've lived in Newmarket the population has doubled yet no new plots have been added to the program and the garden is scheduled to be moved to barren soil for a second time. How is this supporting communities?

I’d like Ontario hydro to allow us the use of the hydro corridor for garden plots. There are many acres of untended and usable land going to waste.

I want a local food cooperative selling locally grown fresh and canned produce as well as bulk purchases of food staples.
The closest we have now is this small raw food co-op I’ve used them before to buy wheat for my flour mill.

A year round farmers market would be wonderful too

I want to see the careers ended for those local politicians who think that the only thing they must offer to get my vote is more public ice rinks. There is more to life and their jobs than facilitating hockey…arrgggg!

I want to see strict enforcement of the no free range cat bylaw. If your dog, child or spouse is running amok in my yard I can call the police, if it’s a cat however you must trap it yourself because police or animal control won’t do anything. Cats and their freakishly zealot owners are apparently above a law that protects indigenous species like song birds from being hunted by a foreign and destructive species. If you’re too lazy to clean your own cat box put the cat down, don’t send it to crap in my garden. Sorry for the rant, Pet Peeve, Literally

Ban golf courses- One of the few places Ontario exempt from the cosmetic pesticide laws and a huge waste of arable land. Play like the ancient Scots did, in a pasture with the sheep, sheep dip and rocks as obstacles.

I want to see a group of environmentally aware people create a slate of like minded candidates in the next round of municipal elections.
(this had better happen soon, its election year)

I’d like the Newmarket Farmers market to have its board fired and a neutral party placed in charge. From what I’ve been told by two local vendors is that market has lost vendors because board members did not like losing market share to a better product and refused to renew peoples permits. (By the way, the best meat pies are now sold by a guy at the Aurora market.) It also looks likes some current vendors are breaking the rules and bringing out of region produce from the food terminal rather than live up to their local produce mandate.

I’d like to see at least one weekend Go train that goes down 9:00ish a.m. and came back at 5-6 pm so that people can do the Ex, trade shows, theatre, the islands etc.

More shelters at the stations, as well as a YRT schedule that actually gets people to the train before it leaves.

A couple things I missed that a reader brought up

“I'd like to see bylaws changed for development such that the provision of bicycle storage is mandatory. Currently developers have clear rules around they number of parking spots they must provide, but nothing about bike paths and storage.” I should be able to go to the store with a bike or scooter, not just a car. Hell they should even put in e-car and scooter charging stations at larger locations.

“I'd like to see some thought given to the locations of existing housing (ie neighbourhoods) and looking at where those people most likely want/need to walk/cycle to, and then a plan in place to ensure they have safe paths that are well maintained.” In fact I’d support buying houses on some nested streets and tearing them down so we can punch new walking paths between streets. The fact you have to walk 15 minutes to reach a neighbour that you see out the back window is nuts

There are so many things that I want done yet I see no awareness to the need for change. I guess there are several answers but they all boil down to 2 categories

I’m a delusional crank
People are inherently short sighted and stupid

Or maybe there are people out there who will say, "Those are great ideas, I want to get involved" and will contact me to do something.

No, you are right. I must be a delusional Crank!!! bwahahahahaahah

If anyone else wish to spout off about their pie in the sky vision for our town, send it in, I might just post it.


Anonymous said...

good post,

Anonymous said...

yes, good post. many questions. answers/comments are forthcoming.

votebrad snell ward 5 newmarket said...

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Always interested in residents comments and isuues especailly coming into Oct 25 muncipal election day

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