They're doing this to package up these farmlands and make them attractive to supply companies for the oil sands. The problem is, they don't seem to realize that big industry (which the oil sands is part of) is fickle. I don't want to see council spend a boatload of money to prime up these lands for industrial development, since as we are all too aware in this region, in the global economy, supply companies such as these are notoriously short lived.
All any other company anywhere else in the world has to do is undercut the price of the supply company, and big industry moves on. Since I want my area to forget about the global economy and concentrate on ways of making our own area self sufficient, I have requested and been granted the opportunity to address council this coming Monday regarding my concerns. Since it is important to me that my concerns be taken seriously, I have been hard at work preparing my case, which explains the delay in my posts. Here in a nutshell is my speech:
Hello Mayor and Councillors.
I’m here today to urge council not to allow development of agricultural land on the outskirts of (omitted). I’m talking about the rumoured industrial expansion planned for the “(Omitted) Area” as well as the rumoured development of subdivisions on the south end of the (omitted) area.
In the near future, it’s my belief that you’re going to see a turning inwards when it comes to local economies. As more and more municipalities realize that an economic system that relies on environmentally damaging shipping, (and holds the consumer at the mercy of inflated fuel prices in order to pay for all that shipping), you’re going to see a discontinuing of interest in participating in the Global economy. The wave of the future in food production, for example, is going to be local agri-business feeding local demand. It just makes sense, cost-wise, because you eliminate the cost of all that shipping. In the Global Market, it’s all too easy for big manufacturers to mass-produce and synthetically preserve food and to ship it all over the world, but because of the long life span needed for these products to travel great distances, very little of the actual nutrition remains. But the far greater problem is the carbon emissions released by the process.
I come from a farm family, and I don’t have to tell members of this council that anyone who grew a corn crop this year in (omitted) was laughing all the way to the bank. The sobering truth, though, is that local farmers reaped this advantage because of the climate change effects facing our neighbors to the (omitted). These climate changing effects are the direct result of carbon emissions.
I have heard it said at the (omitted) Council Meeting recently that Commercial interest exists in the form of Oil Sands supplier companies to put in industrial businesses, provided water and sewer servicing are put in place. Putting that servicing in is a huge cost to the municipality.
I’ve worked in manufacturing in this area for twelve years, most recently in the Parts department of an automotive plant. I resigned from there in October. Like automakers, the Oil sands are big industry, and as we are all too familiar in these parts, Big industry is fickle. The Global Market is a very difficult place for small municipalities to succeed. What happens is, municipalities go to the work and expense of installing infrastructure to make themselves attractive to Big Industry supply companies, hoping to secure long-term employment for their residents. The simple truth, however, is that Big Industry doesn’t stick around. In the global market, it is all too easy for another company, anywhere in the world, to undercut the cost of production operations of that supplier, and once that happens, they’re gone. They’re like the alien races that populated the movies of my childhood: once they have swooped down on an area and taken every scrap of available funding and resources that they can get access to and turned them into profit for themselves, big industry moves on.
In big industry, it is all too common for a supplier company to be dropped without notice, while another company that offers even the smallest price advantage, takes its place. A thought is not paid to the jobs of the people that worked there. Those jobs go into the toilet, and so do all of the resources that municipalities have ponied up in order for those plants to be built in the first place.
I know that there are boundary lines that divide municipalities into neat little parcels of land with separate costs and separate operating systems and objectives from each other, but the time for thinking in terms of these boundaries has passed. Regardless of boundaries, when you push resources outwards from the centre of an urban population, you bankrupt that centre. That’s what’s been going around here for the last twenty years, which means that for the densely populated downtown area, those people are going to have a hell of a walk to get to a place where they can grow enough food to feed themselves in the event of a fuel shortage, or to turn it around, before they can get to an agri-business situated on recreational pedestrian access routes to buy local food which is the way of the future that this municipality is, wisely I think, promoting.
I have seen first-hand the damaging impact of toxic industrial runoff that trickles off factory parking lots after it rains. Every year the dead lawn around the plant where I worked just gets ripped off and re-sodded, and while in their situation, it may be permissible to think of green spaces as disposable commodities, here in this municipality, it’s not. I’m here to urge council to put on hold any plans for development in these two areas, whether its subdivisions to the south or supply companies for big industry to the north. The currency of the future is not going to be measured in dollars and cents. It’s going to be measured in resources, and viable farmland within pedestrian foot travel distance of a major urban population is going to be worth its weight in gold.
The writing is on the wall that the time has come for turning inwards. Municipalities that want to be forward looking are going to have to concentrate on the promotion of businesses that look to the local economy, that ship to the internal economy only, not on businesses that export goods to the greater global market with all of the carbon emitting transport truck traffic that entails.
To build a new industrial facility or subdivision requires truckloads and truckloads of goods being shipped to that area. This municipality, sitting on the shores of one of the world's largest fresh water supplies, does not need any more unnecessary transport truck traffic. That run-off makes its way to the Lakes that we all depend on in this area for tourism, not to mention drinking water. Personally, I’d like to see a policy put in place where no new facilities could be built until it can be proven that an existing structure can’t be found within a thirty-kilometer radius that could be modified to fit the intended purpose. That would be a resource-friendly policy that I would love to see this council adopt. Empty homes and vacant industrial land this area has in spades. Viable farm land accessible on foot it does not.
When an area relies on food that is shipped in from other places, it becomes very vulnerable in the event of fuel price gouging, for example, or any of the myriad of issues plaguing farmers today. In the event of that type of price situation, how are the parents of this area going to feed their kids? Betting on big industry is betting on a losing horse. This municipality is in the position to be very cutting edge in terms of its objectives for the future. The old ways of resource consumption in pursuit of the elusive dollar have got to stop. Resource conservation is the key to the future. This area has the advantage of the new Environmental Committee, which I am greatly interested in joining after June when my schedule frees up again. Why not task them with investigating some of these options?
In conclusion, I'm here today as a mother of young children. My reasons for being here are staring me in the face every day, and protecting what’s left of our resources for them is something that I feel I have no choice but to advocate for. God knows if they’re anything like their mom, they’ll be holding me to account in ten years for why I didn’t do more to protect things for them if I don’t, and so I guess I better take it on. That goes for everything from protecting the water quality of our lakes to protecting clean air to building and growing a better food supply. On behalf of them, I’d like to ask you not to sell those lands short. Subdivisions don’t feed cities. Concrete parking lots don’t feed cities. Farmers feed cities.
So that's the speech I'm taking to council in two day's time. Unfortunately, I've had to resign from my local newspaper's staff in order to go out on a limb with such a radical viewpoint of concern for the climate. How telling it is that a stance such as this one, which to my way of thinking, only makes concrete sense, does not fit within the confines of a mainstream (corporate owned) media company. My thoughts have been with you, dear readers, and I apologize for the delay, but as this has arisen out of the principles of my blog, Self Sufficiency, I hope you'll bear with me. I'll keep you posted on this story as it develops.
Garden Patch Update
Here's a shot of my tomatoes up close. While I think they're doing fabulously well overall, you can see how long the stems are getting. I hope they're getting enough light!
March 28th total: $471.02
Week 1 sandwiches 40.27
Week 2 (sorry!) 19.58
April cosmetics 30.00
Two gifts * 80.00
*I have been to two family occasions in the past two weeks, and have taken home-made gifts of in one case, knitted baby items, and in the other, a homemade batch of working man's hand salve. Because in so doing I saved myself the cost of purchasing a gift, which I ordinarily would have spent around $40 on, I'm adding eighty dollars to my total for April.
Hope you are well!