‘Vapid platitudes’

Dear Editor:

I usually read through The Advertiser before I turn to The Community News (a local paper intended for Mapleton and Minto).

So I plodded through the Aug. 29 rendition of a giant promotional brochure for Pearle Hospitality: page 1, holding zone removed on portion of Pearle lands; page 5, in the Mayor’s Monthly Minute, “Pearle will continue its rehabilitation of a long-standing brownfield site, complement our downtown core, restore heritage ruins and provide new downtown residences”; page 7, Pearle to move Potter Foundry 75m to the west of its present location; page 9, Pearle using public easements as parkland dedication; page 10, Pearle development, a discussion by columnist Jamie Myslik; and, finally, page 40, where we are treated to a full-colour rendition of the results of all this Pearle activity. 

Words fail me in trying to express the shock and dismay I felt when I saw what was being proposed: a seven-storey monstrosity that would fit right in near either university in Waterloo, but that will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb in a community like Elora.

Can our officials really and truly envisage such a gigantic structure not having a profound negative impact on the quality of life in “the most beautiful village in Ontario”?

The list of negatives could go on ad infinitum: traffic, congestion, crowds, parking, noise, pollution,  demolished “natural” settings and views, just for starters—move down the list and you will come to more esoteric things, like crime, sense of community and neighbourliness, and something as simple as the desire to go for a walk in a small town.

So, I have emphatically identified myself as one of the old farts who thinks that not all change is for the better; who thinks that Pearle can actually do some wrong (and already has, for that matter); and who values what Elora has always been to me, for the 50 or so years I have been living near it, a refuge with a heart, a proud community unashamed of its artistic merit, and simply a nice place to walk around in. If this development goes through, I can bid farewell to that Elora forever, and embrace Guelph north/Waterloo east as yet one more slice of urbanity.

But let me return to the Community News because it has some bearing on my misgivings. The front page has an article, “Study finds Mapleton needs water quantity policy,” with the following rather staggering statement (and I quote extensively for readers without access otherwise): “A preliminary water quantity assessment…found nine wells in neighbouring Centre Wellington Township are ‘at risk.’ Using a model measuring municipal well levels and the geographical placement of aquifers, the study found that by 2041 current infrastructure would not be able to meet the demands of the projected population increase in Centre Wellington.”

Am I the only reader who sees such a glaring contradiction between Centre Wellington council-as-Pearle-cheerleader and the reality of a potential water crisis? Every new residence, every new business, and every new visitor to Elora will put new additional pressure on the water supply of Centre Wellington, some of whose wells have already been deemed “at risk.”

I am a regular reader of your paper, and read it thoroughly from cover to cover. For several years I have been fed a steady diet of “healthy growth, sustainable development, and good government.”

If the proposed project is brought to fruition, I ask that any and all municipal officials cease and desist from uttering those vapid platitudes.

Richard Giles,

RR1 Alma