Sharing our Province, Rurals and Urbans United: Not one without the Other

Is there any hope for the rural way of life or will we all get sucked up into the urban sprawl with ‘nary a whimper’? We have been trying, our dwindling voices in the wilderness, calling out to anyone who would listen. Let’s see – we drove tractors to Toronto, blocked the 401 and stood around Queens Park hoping to bring some attention to the plight of those who saw value in a rural lifestyle, but no such luck. We joined political parties, attended meetings, became involved in round table policy talks hoping again, that our voices might break through the urban wall of thought that dominated the decision maker’s minds…even just a little crack would help, but the cement is pretty hard. We stood up against all types of enforcers who were trying to shut us down, one by one: close the rural schools (300 one year), close those family sawmills, the farmers markets, the small organic farms, the home butchers, the bakeries, the fresh milk suppliers, the local egg farmers trying to sell his fresh eggs and the local on-farm, fruit wineries. The horrors of it all! There was a time, not so long ago, that rural cheese factories were begging for more milk to produce an excellent product; unique specialty cheeses, but alas, the stars were not aligned, so no milk meant no cheese…they too folded up. It wasn’t because there wasn’t enough milk either. Politics got stirred into the moldy mix.

The problem that I have with this urban way of life dictating to the people who are more rooted to the land is that we both have skills that we both need and no one in power, seems to get that. Take a block of people out of Toronto, plunk them down in rural Ontario and say, “produce food”, and they may have a problem. Take a village in the backwoods and say, “manage the stock market” and they too may have a problem. The way I see it and most narrow minded policy makers don’t, is that we need each other.

If I could have a dollar for every politician who has told us “you’ll never get Toronto to go along with that”, I’d be rich. We don’t have to get the urban people to agree with what the rural people need nor should we ask the rurals permission for something that people in the cities need. We each have different needs and our politicians should be helping both sides of the coin, not catering to one. Rural people need their land to work with, to grow crops, to feed animals, to produce firewood, to have welding shops etc. They drive trucks, make roads and build buildings and they don’t need someone telling them that they can’t park their truck on their property. Their land is their employment. Far from begging for money, many of the rural people need the urban mentality to stay home and not try to micromanage something they know nothing about. Stop telling a forester that he can or cannot cut trees. Stop telling landowners that they cannot walk on their land because they have a wetland on it or a special flower. We don’t go into the city and tell people they shouldn’t destroy their yards with cement and chlorinated water for a pool nor could we imagine wanting to. Who are these people and where do they come from, who want to manage our land and destroy our lives?

There is no doubt that the rural way of life may one day be a memory, a thing of the past that old people reminisce about. I still hear these stories now, how they had no power, no TV, no running water but somehow got through. In today’s modern world we are far removed from the struggles of our ancestors and glad that we are but we must not cut off that link to our past, that connection to the land because when a crisis occurs, when the power goes out, when the grocery store empties, it doesn’t take too many days before the fact hits home that we need our rural neighbours.

Rural and urban dwellers alike need to tell the politicians that one isn’t good without the other and they’d better stop trying to shut rural Ontario down.