I was born in Windsor, Ontario, but lived, went to school and worked most of my life in North York. When the North York Board of Education built the beautiful Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre near Orangeville I moved northwest and spent ten years working there in the spectacular Headwaters Region of Dufferin-Caledon. After a brief return to the Toronto area to teach at York University, I was once again asked to manage an outdoor centre. This time it was at the Bolton Conference Centre and Camp location in Caledon.
That was in 1997, and this marks our 20th year here in Caledon, so I can safely say that Bolton is now my Home Town.
When we moved here the housing boom hadn’t started and in February we could still hear the coyote packs singing from the farm fields to the south of us. A lot can happen in twenty years, and as old industrial areas and development lands were rezoned, the little country Town grew. But not too big – just big enough to attract the attention of Toronto Life Magazine and get voted as one of the Top Twenty Hot Neighbourhoods in which to live. Here’s their evaluation of my rurban home town:
“Anyone who yearns for rustic small-town life with the convenience of the big city should consider a foothold in Bolton—it’s quiet and picturesque, with plenty of modern amenities to keep it vibrant. Bolton, the densest chunk of Caledon, has a small cluster of restaurants and cafés that quickly give way to an expanse of strip malls and big-box stores. The housing stock is largely made up of newer homes on narrow lots, and while it’s a bit further from Toronto than Brampton, it’s both prettier and cheaper. Among the area’s most enticing rural charms: the Bolton Fall Fair, an agricultural expo with midway rides, giant gourds and a tractor pull.”
Not to mention the Humber Valley Heritage Trail, the Trans-Canada Trail (The Great Trail), the Caledon Trailway, the Bruce Trail, the Albion Hills Conservation Area, and the Albion Hills Community Farm, where local residents can grow their own local produce and learn the benefits of local food production.
So, how do we keep our Home Town “rustic” but with plenty of “amenities” as the pressures from Toronto and Brampton push north looking for healthy space and more affordable housing? We espouse sustainable development over exponential growth.
There are limits to growth, but there are no limits to development. Let me explain: a human being can only grow to a certain size, but that same human being can learn to write, sing, build rocket ships, dance, train a horse, compose a symphony, paddle a canoe, deliver a speech, design an energy efficient building, develop green technologies to take us beyond fossil fuels, turn swords into ploughshares. There is no end to the development that one simple human being can achieve.
How do we nurture sustainable development over growth? We keep our citizens well-informed about the current and future state of our community. We elect a Municipal Council that is intelligent and aware of the big picture beyond their own limited self-interest. We avoid being drawn into misinformation debates and inflammatory social media rants by a rabid minority who would find fault with the way the Little Drummer Boy played his song to a baby in a manger.
It has been my privilege over the past few months to interview the administration team in the Town of Caledon. From the Chief Administrative Officer to the Town Clerk, these are people who are dedicated, hard-working and more than competent at their jobs, who work daily with the best interests of the entire population of Caledon in mind. They are not in the slightest the tax-dollar wasting, entitled incompetents that the rabid misinformed minority, and a few partisan journalists would have us believe.
The good news is, this Town of Caledon and it’s urban centre of Bolton are doing just fine thank-you, and we know what we need to do to get better. We need our GO Train. We need to dedicate Queen St to local traffic only, and divert the through traffic to the Emil Kolb by-pass it should be taking. We need to ensure all future developments, residential, employment, and industrial are built to LEED standards – energy producing, greywater reusing, and waste recycling. We need to apply a Prince Edward Island style of pride and beauty to our store fronts, our heritage buildings and our homes.
We need to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t listen to or re-elect the rabid in-between.
My Home Town – it was once voted “the Greenest Town in Ontario” and now we’re one of the hottest. If we want to claim both of those titles in the future it will come through leadership focused on sustainable development, and a citizenry that is well informed and takes pride in their community. The mud-slingers? As the old Conestoga wagon masters used to say when the covered wagons got stuck in the mud, “Either get out and push, or get out.”
Skid Crease, Caledon