West Grey I

Out of one fire pit into another. That seems to be the story of my life lately. The following is an address sent to the planning advisory committee of the West Grey municipal office, where my son’s family was advised that they need a zoning bylaw amendment to allow my two mid-teen grandsons to legally invite their friends to ride their dirt bikes on an already-existing, legal, regulation-designed track. The scope of my wildest comprehension fails pitifully in grasping the reason why petty, bureaucratic, power-tripping loopholes are entwined in legislature, hamstringing those elected to office, making it necessary to hassle, without exception, this age group.

There is no wonder in my mind why our street corners attract confused and restless teenage gangs.

“To all members in attendance at the planning advisory committee meeting on Monday, May 11, 2009, at 2pm. Specifically the zoning bylaw amendment (ZA-04-09) part lot 21 & 22, Concession 10, former Township of Glenelg (Earl and Kelly Hopkins).

“Let me point out that I am definitely biased in favour of this request, as I am the grandfather of two teenage boys who were moved by their parents from urban to rural in order to avoid the street corner mentality of far too many of our modern-day teens.

“I am also guilty, though I do not participate, of attending several of these so-called dirt bike rallies and was truly amazed how orderly and well they were organized and run. The highlight of my day there is watching the broad smiles on the faces of those aged 4 to 70 as they leave the track, often plastered in mud, after their allotted time. This sport is truly a family-oriented, outdoor exercise program at its best.

“Though there was both music and campfire songs, following the near dusk cookouts and barbecues enjoyed by all attending, it was not loud beyond laughter, and boisterous it was not. A four-wheeler tours the campsites along about 10:30pm, advising all that music must stop and all fires must be out by 11pm. And those who have to be reminded twice are denied, without exception, the use of the track the next day.

“I don’t think it necessary to point out, as I am sure you are all well aware of, the discrepancies in holding the meeting during mid-afternoon.

“A meeting so timed limits the attendance head count of supporting young families as possible job loss, in these times of worldwide economic withdrawal, takes precedence. Leaving by nature only the opposing ill informed elderly and those unemployed able to attend.

“What was really a surprise to me, as it probably was to each of you, was the very apparent lack of research done by the so-called professionals hired to represent those in opposition. Ninety per cent of what flowed freely from their mouths, as fact, was based on nothing more than hearsay and exaggerations, bordering on downright lies. It must be difficult, for you as councillors, to sit and listen to this from people of this supposed calibre.

“It is not my intention to interfere with either my son’s or his family’s intention, as he was taught to fight his own bat­tles at the age of 7. But having heard the gang mentality inti­midation as expressed at the meeting when those in support tried to express their opinion, I was not at all enchanted.

“I have lived a life that has stretched beyond the halfway point of the seventh decade and during the latter period have written a weekly environ­men­tally oriented column that is now gestating the latter months of its twenty-fifth year, with free circulation covering the entire neighbouring County of Wellington. This feedback ad­vantage has left me with a reas­onably broad scope in judging both attitudes and fairness of situations.

“You have all viewed the proposed site. And I know it is not necessary to point out that it is well back from each road. And it will not be in view of either, once the living snow fence that is already planted has a chance to gain a little height. The exceptionally steep sloped land, on which it is site-specifically designed, is definitely not arable. Nor has it been tilled since horse-drawn equipment became obsolete.

“Having said that, let me say this: having sat through the entire meeting, being aware of the pros and the cons, I know that council’s decision will be a fair one, neither swayed nor delayed by inaction, reaction, or indecision.”

So there you have it, folks, and it is my hope that the council of Centre Wellington will never be forced to indulge in the power-tripping, youth abuse mania that seems so addictive to the areas that border ours. 

Take care, ‘cause we care.                      




Barrie Hopkins