Lessons Ignored

For some reason, our fair city seems to believe that we’re special.  That the lessons learned on other cities for some reason do not apply to us.

The people behind Strong Towns have written extensively about how our current patterns of growth are akin to a Ponzi Scheme.

Other municipalities have chosen to address this issue, paving the way to planning reform and the way cities build and finance their infrastructure.

Yet, here in Windsor, we ignore the fact that we cannot afford our current infrastructure inventory (when’s the last time YOUR pot-hole ridden road was resurfaced, or YOUR basement has flooded?!?).  We seem to still be under the illusion that, if we can only build more subdivisions and widen more roads, somehow our property tax base will grow to the point of sustaining itself.  What’s that definition of insanity, again?

I bring this up because of the article in todays Windsor Star on the Windsor South Sandwich DRAFT Secondary Plan.  Using pleasing vernacular like “Walkable Neighbourhoods” and referencing established communities like the Walkerville neighbourhood, the city is trying to make this new development appear to be something different, better than what we’re used to.

Yet, despite this wonderful new growth being planned, our current citizens are constantly under pressure to reduce their civic spending to compensate for this unsustainable growth.  We are privatizing core services, costing local jobs.  We’re having our local amenities consolidated in far-flung “big-box” municipal-service zones.  We are doing this because we cannot afford what we have, yet we are under the illusion that we can still build our way out of our economic doldrums.

The fact still remains that our current growth patterns are unsustainable.  Current patterns of development costs more to maintain over the long run than it produces in revenue.  We are continuing to dig deeper, despite the organizations out there sounding the alarm.

This is a deep-seated structural flaw in our civic mindset.  It’s time our municipal leadership started to question the Ponzi mentality governing Windsor.  I urge you to pass along Strong Town’s research to your ward councillor.  They need to hear this loud and clear.