Times, they are a-changing

Thoughts on the proposed "family hub" rezoning on Ash Street.

It’s not always easy to figure out what you want.

Sometimes, it is actually much more straightforward to say what you don’t want.

But by only talking in negatives, progress can be slow and painful – maybe even nonexistent.

While it is easy to understand and empathize with residents who would prefer to keep a quiet street just that – quiet, it may not be practical.

A street a few blocks from downtown, a block from a school and a street which dead-ends onto prime development land is not likely to remain dead-end forever, especially in a community bounded by lakefront on one side and First Nations reserve on another.

For the community to grow, one of the major needs in this community is child care. I have been hearing it since I came to the community,  – a day care facility is a desperate requirement, with some mothers concerned they would have to leave their jobs because they could not find the quality day care they needed for their family.

Many people working to recruit professionals to the community lamented the lack of daycare and how much it and the doctor shortage may deter young families from coming to this community.

So last week when I heard a young family and another couple arguing against a rezoning which would allow for the long-awaited and overdue development of a daycare facility, I was surprised.

There are only four lots on the dead end street in question, only two of which are occupied with homes and only one of those homes has children.

While, as I said, it is understandable for homeowners to want quiet streets, the town is growing. I for one would love it if truckers driving through the community stopped using their air brakes going through town. But I’m not expecting trucks to stop going through the community so I can sleep more peacefully.

The community is growing, and increased traffic has been an issue many members of the community have been dealing with on their streets for quite a long time now.

So while it is understandable for residents of a quiet, dead-end street to prefer for their street to stay as it is, for the sake of the larger community, it might just not make sense.

While the mayor and council clearly took the residents’ concerns into consideration while discussing the rezoning and have not yet finalized approval to allow for the “family hub” proposed for the Sikh temple, it would be nice to see this mayor and council think a bit more forwardly than the previous one which defeated a rezoning application in favour of the concerns of residents.

The previous rezoning would have allowed Nezul Be Child and Family Services to locate their offices on the Sikh temple site. This would have seen far less frequent traffic and the area would likely have not even have changed perceptibly if these offices were located in the Ash Street neighbourhood.

I have lived beside Nezul Be for over a year, and other than one of the elderly dogs of an employee wandering into my yard occasionally to water my grass, I have barely noticed the offices are there.

Instead, the Ash Street residents are now arguing against a much-needed service centre in the community which would see an increase in daytime traffic on their street.

The next development option for the site may be even less to their liking and if left any longer, the building may become quite unmarketable, losing a possible resource for the community.

While I understand the residents’ concerns, perhaps it is time, while taking these concerns into consideration, to put the benefits to the many ahead of the interests of a few.

My university ethics professor told me this is the reasonable course of action in difficult cases, and I am pretty sure his doctorate gives him some credence in these things.

While it is not an easy thing to do, and I do not envy mayor and council their jobs in cases like this, they must have realized when they were elected they wouldn’t be able to please everyone all of the time. Tough decisions take guts, and for the community to grow, the community must accept some change. Care can be taken to make these changes easier, safer or better, but change is inevitable.

“Our only security is our ability to change.” ~John Lilly

Stories on rezoning on Ash Street:

Council defeats rezoning

Ash Street residents oppose rezoning