There is a Better Way by Tom Black

Published August 1, 2016

Tome Black

While driving home a couple of weeks ago, I passed a field with beef cattle contentedly grazing on green pasture and then a field of corn. The best field of corn in the area, four feet high on the first of July, on an extremely dry year. This picture of perfection quickly gave way to row after row of new houses and then, on the opposite side of the road, a large parking lot with a Walmart store and about six other smaller stores. I guess this is what is called ‘progress’. Modern man has decided that the place to build houses is on the best farm land we have surrounding our cities. Never a thought is given to the fact that this land will not provide food ever again for people of this city, this province, the country or the starving in the world.

The modern world is a testament to the genius of man, with all the ‘out of this world creations’ over the last 100 years that have taken us from walking and horseback to flying to the moon and now, we are circling Mars after a five-year voyage. So tell me, how can we be so brilliant at some things and then so dumb at others? Where is the imagination that is needed to design cities for people to live that does not require us to cover up the good land that we have. This is a big province but the amount of good food growing land is very limited to a proportionally small strip of land running along the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa River. With the new modern society, there is no need to jam more people into these cities that know no bounds. Computers and high speed fiber and satellite communication networks means that most office jobs can be done from anywhere in the province. Why do we not build on the rocky, poor quality land that makes up the majority of the Ontario landscape? Why do we build bigger power lines and gas lines to service ever expanding cities when we could have smaller cities closer to the resources and build ‘waste to energy’ plants and digesters to be part of the power solution right from the beginning of a new city? The early settlers and the native communities built their villages near water for the fish and transportation. Modern society doesn’t need to be near those waterways anymore so why do we keep adding to these cities beside our precious waterways that always end up as a sewage outlet?

Have we learned nothing from the overpopulated cities of the world?

I hope someday soon that developers with a little genius and a lot of imagination will design and build a modern city from the ground up, that is not located beside our rivers and which could become a blueprint for what people can create if they really want to.
I know it is a lot cheaper to dig basements and lay pipe in nice level farm fields that were cleared by hand with axes and horses, but the cost to our future generations is incomprehensible and it’s a poor legacy that we pass on to the next generation. Surely with all our education and impressive technology we can find a way to build modern cities without covering up our good food-producing land.

4 Responses to “There is a Better Way by Tom Black”

  1. Andrew August 12, 2016

    “Computers and high speed fiber and satellite communication networks means that most office jobs can be done from anywhere in the province. ”
    You are so bang on with this Tom. There has been a significant “cut the cord” initiative within the Federal government. Basically they’ve taken away the desktops and landline phones and replaced them with laptops and cell phones for most employees. Remote access to networks has been reality for years. Meanwhile they’ve been undertaking a digitization of records and processes to make it as paperless of an environment. Despite having most of the tools and work in an online environment which essentially could be done anywhere, the government is reluctant to allow large amounts of workers work from home. I know in my situation I easily could and frankly would prefer it. While I likely know where the scene you described about the farmland is (and have a new home not far from there on what was producing farmland 2 years ago), I have to say I don’t mind living in the burbs. But I also would rather be in the valley within a small town near some of my extended family. Unfortunately this won’t be a reality because of my job being stuck in the city for the foreseeable future. We all know the province and feds don’t want people commuting in everyday with the congestion and the green/climate change agenda. Despite this, they have done little if anything within their legitimate power to motivate people such as myself to not do this in a positive way like telecommuting or giving some sort of incentive for employees to living in small rural communities. I think it is very possible to pull these levers and save good farmland by reducing the urban sprawl and the demand for suburban homes.

  2. Ron Conrad August 1, 2016

    Government policies such as the greenbelt have not saved one acre of farmland. All that has happened is that the government is in control and it decides which farmland will be developed and when. With that control comes the likelihood that there is some dirty business going on to get approvals.
    There is no scarcity of farmland. The limited resource is the farmer. We will soon have way more farmland than farmers to farm it, which opens up the prospect of foreign ownership and foreign workers farming our land.
    When a farm family can sell their farm for development they can move their farm operation to where land is less expensive and have the funds to farm and lose money for generations. I know of one family who sold 50 acres for $48 million. They set up two children in dairy farms revitalizing run down underused farms farther north. Children of farmers will stay on the farm if there are the funds to do so.
    The greenbelt suppresses the price of farms within the greenbelt, just making them cheap for the developers to buy so they can later develop them by “working with the government” to get approvals. All that money is better in the hands of farm families than in the hands of friends of the government developers, as the land will be taken out of farming and developed anyway.

  3. Ken Conrad August 1, 2016

    You know there’s a lot of truth to the saying, “when a farmer wins the lottery he will spend the money farming until he has no more”.

    The trading of agricultural commodities are manipulated in such a way as to support North American cheap food policies with little concern for potential young farmers and the small family farm. Indeed subsidies, taxes and regulations are geared towards and favour the corporate/conventional model. These policies are an enormous barrier to growth in the agricultural industry and have had a huge influence on market competition, corporate consolidation, and the loss of agricultural land to urban and industrial development.

    And why are there cheap food policies you may ask? Because most consumers don’t give a damn about the food that they eat as long as it’s cheap, it tastes good and is convenient. The government corporate system whether consciously or subconsciously is more then willing to take advantage of such shallow, short sighted inclinations.

    Farmers are being squeezed to the point where they have to either search out off farm employment to subsidize their income and the food that goes on your table, increase their debt load and expand their operations, or simply quit farming, which many have done. There is a huge amount of farmland that has and continues to go out of production in this province and it certainly is not the fault of the farmer.

  4. Beth Trudeau August 1, 2016

    Couldn’t agree more, Tom. Add Industrial wind turbines that takes tonnes of cement being poured into once fertile soil, and the possibility of food shortages because we have wasted our prime farmland, is closer to becoming a reality. Evil agendas.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Get all the latest OLA news
delivered monthly right to your inbox!