You don’t know what you don’t know

Sometimes it’s best to listen before offering up opinions and reacting to things. 

We came to subscribe to that notion early in life, long before this current political climate of absolutes. There is usually more to any given story than provided initially. Long-term solutions require thought.

Housing is one such issue that has layers of consideration.

Cost obviously is a primary factor. This significant part of the conversation has for decades driven inaction. The bill for inaction is now becoming due with significant strain on aging infrastructure, missed planning opportunities and current land costs that make it difficult for simple math to prevail. 

On top of those financial implications are the hidden costs of inaction, now finally emerging from the shadows. Encampments, substance abuse, untreated mental health, thievery – we see all these things as part of the bigger housing picture.

Despite national and provincial leaders talking the talk and making housing the issue of our times, they haven’t clue one. A bit of money sprinkled here and there does little to bring about the systemic changes required, but it is a start even in the simplest of terms.

The County of Wellington is leveraging that seed money to better understand the housing issue. Credit for that rests with Luisa Artuso and her social services team for structuring ongoing symposiums. 

We would have preferred to see more gracious moments from those involved, but frustrations abound. Opportunities will come for those able to tell their story with sincerity and genuine hopes for a better outcome. The ability to break through the current malaise requires political leadership of which we are in scant supply. This file needs a champion. 

The answers of course will require a few broken eggs as they say. 

Inflated development charges will need to go. 

Attitudes that developers have exceptional rights to achieve their own ends, need to be closely examined. Let us remember that long after that big marketing machine moves out of town, it is the community that deals with the fallout of poor planning. 

Taxation needs to catch up with public policy. Why should MPAC penalize multi-unit properties for filling a public good?

Development that fails or is incapable of accommodating housing types and volume needed to address community need, reflects old thinking. The system can’t continue to be about professionals and well-paid staff hung up in the past, wringing dollars from applications.

We wish the county luck with these efforts. It is long past due, but the path forward looks optimistic.

Tri is Latin for 3

We were heartened months back to hear the Minister of Education speak about getting back to the basics. Reading, writing and arithmetic as academic imperatives make a lot of sense. 

Latin, however, was removed from the curriculum long ago and its chance of a resurgence is in great doubt. Words, language, fundamentals of communication – all appear to be a dying art for those of us still hung up on printing words and writing.

We were puzzled a week or two ago when Premier Doug Ford got on the subject of four and five-storey tri-plexes and four-plexes reaching to the sky. He repeated his position that single-family homes are what his government is going after. 

Dependent on one’s lot in life, the idea of smaller units within single family homes would be unseemly. But given their druthers, tenants and landlords would happily choose to rent a basement or attic unit for a reasonable price. Impact on the immediate neighbouhood would be negligible. 

This math isn’t that hard, Mr. Premier. Tri just means three.