Going, Going, Going, Gone…
by Kim Kranz
We were warned, in a reasoned and well-researched letter from a local citizen (Ross Morton, Herald 2013.01.01) that the rich natural inheritance represented by the cave structures of Dewdney Mountain is about to be lost forever to the developers of another natural resource, limestone.
At the latest meeting of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey Council, Mayor Janet Clarkson (Herald, 2013.01.18) announced the result, a 3-1 vote of Council in favor of limestone, to anger and condemnation from the enraged citizenry.
It does seem to be in danger of becoming “the same old story,” doesn’t it?
Must it ever be thus? Those with the financial and political power to develop this country cannot be blamed for wanting to make money. Canada is still a happy hunting ground for developments of all kinds. Why shouldn’t they be part of it?
Those whose toes will be trampled in the process can howl, but what else can they do? They can’t buy the developers out. They don’t have the money. Their only recourse is to government, and in this case, Council of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey is government.
I have the unhappy feeling that this kind of story is being repeated in many parts of Canada. I am happy, however, to point to a case in Lakefield that is an exception, the preservation of Christ Church.
This small, limestone building is arguably the most important historic structure in Lakefield. It was built thanks to the efforts of Samuel Strickland, a founding member of the Village. Its beautifully proportioned design is attributed to Chivas Tully, Strickland’s nephew, who went on to design the handsome courthouse in Cobourg.
In the 1960s, Christ Church stood more or less abandoned and empty, a prey to rot, decay and inquisitive squirrels.
Today, Christ Church has been renovated and carefully preserved thanks to the efforts of the Anglican community of Lakefield, spearheaded by the Twist family, and supported by church members who provided money, skills and time. That is one way that our valued inheritances can be preserved.
However, it does seem that it should be possible put a monetary value on beauty, historic importance, and natural legacy. The Swiss have done it, so it can be done. They have the money, “cherchez l’argent, cherchez les Suisses,” and they have the will.
I don’t think there is a corner anywhere in Switzerland that is not tailored and manicured. Their 300-400 year old buildings of any value are kept like new.
But that comes at a price. The cost of land is phenomenal, and once you have bought the land, you are under severe restrictions as to what you can build on it. If it is a house, a frame construction the shape and dimensions of the house must be put up on the property and left in place for six weeks. In that time, anyone may bring forward complaints.
The structure may cut off a view, it may crowd neighboring structures, the design may clash with what is already there, and so on. These complaints must be satisfied before a permit can be obtained to build.
Once the house is built, there are many regulations that must be met. For instance, the car may not be washed where water will drain into the municipal water system, so the driveway is out. There are many similar regulations.
If the man of the house is able bodied, he must be militarily trained, and keep his weapon cleaned and oiled and in easy reach. A village the size of Lakefield can be completely mobilized to meet any emergency within half an hour. I have seen it done, in Windisch, at 11:30 p.m.
Such regulations may seem draconian to us, but they had the effect of keeping Germany out of Switzerland during the last war. They are a part of life in Switzerland. The Swiss can live with them.
And, look what the Swiss have produced; a country rich in natural and man-made beauty, whose government manages with expertise two different cultures and three languages, whose industry is a model for the world, and whose financial prowess makes it a banking centre.
I have heard Europeans say that Canada is the Switzerland of North America. That, of course, is not true. In the first place, Switzerland would fit into the hip pocket of most of our provinces. But it is interesting to think that we might learn something from the Swiss.
Copyright 2010 Lakefield Herald Ltd.
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