There is a Better Way by Tom Black

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.