Forest for the trees

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Everyone has a certain tolerance for complaining. Similarly, everyone has a point when their tolerance is exceeded. I have firmly decided that my tolerance level for complaints about the County Road 43 expansion project shall firmly be set at “zero” from now until the project is completed. Anyone who doesn’t believe that the expansion project is desperately needed has never driven through Kemptville on County Road 43 with both eyes open. 

Why is this coming up? Because complaints and opposition have already started rolling in online. Those of us with common sense will have to deal with several years of complaints about construction-related traffic congestion, or the familiar cries of “Kempthaven!” from those who are afraid that Kemptville will lose its small town charm. Are those complaining about future construction traffic seriously suggesting that County Road 43 is an efficient route of travel through town as it is? On the contrary, Kemptville could probably make international headlines as the only small town in existence where residents must factor in traffic when making a local trip. 

County Road 43 is, at the moment, a nightmare. At peak periods of the day, stop and go traffic is common. At most times, a left turn onto the highway after shopping at a local business requires a healthy balance of luck, patience, and prayer. Roundabouts end up coming in handy for the wrong reason – they provide an easy U-turn location for the countless number of people who have given up on their left turn and made a right turn instead. Besides inconvenience, it is all very dangerous, and it would only have gotten worse over the years if plans hadn’t been set in motion to fix the problem. 

Traffic concerns aside, small town people are quite well known for opposing what we may call “change for change’s sake”. There is also the wonderful old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Well it’s time to burst that bubble. County Road 43 is indeed broken and I applaud Council, the Counties, and the provincial and federal governments for recognizing the problem and endeavouring to fix it. 

Complaining is a small town pastime. Other small town pastimes include helping a neighbour, gathering for harmless gossip over coffee, and counting the number of tractors that roar by each hour during harvest season. I grew up in Avonmore (population 330 people, presumably 329 after I left). The propensity to complain (and to do all of those other, much nicer things I listed) was just as much alive there as it is today in Kemptville. At least there is some solace (or perhaps it’s the perception) in the fact that small town folks who hate change never change.

Now, with all of the niceties out of the way, and with full acknowledgement of how small town people are awesome and about how change for the sake of change is wrong, let’s talk about why an expanded County Road 43 will not hurt Kemptville in the slightest. 

Firstly, a wider highway can hardly be considered the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in an uptown Kemptville that is already crawling with big box stores and fast food restaurants. Kemptville is unique, and time does not tick in reverse, as much as some may want it to. It is beautiful to see how Kemptville’s downtown remains the epitome of small town charm, while there are “pseudo city amenities” so close by. I would oppose a busy thoroughfare running straight through downtown as much as everyone else would, but County Road 43 serves the already busiest and most booming area of town. Opposing an expanded highway in a place where it is badly needed will do nothing to recapture the nostalgia of the Kemptville many readers surely knew from decades past. 

Secondly – common sense required for this one – a few short years of traffic congestion seems a small price to pay for an upgraded County Road 43! The road is already congested… are we so selfish and shortsighted that we would rob future generations (and indeed, our own future selves) of the road Kemptville needs simply to avoid a minor inconvenience for a relatively short period of time in the present? We must see the forest for the trees. That is to say – we must see the construction for the benefits it will provide us in the decades to come. 

My present commentary will be labelled by many as overzealous. Dare I guess that a majority of North Grenville residents support the expansion of County Road 43? If my guess is correct, I am preaching to the choir. However, I want to get ahead of the game on this one, because some complaints have started, and of all the things that people could complain about, these much needed County Road 43 upgrades should not be a source of anger for anyone. People in neighbouring municipalities could use councils that are similarly committed to tackling real problems head on, and with real solutions. Bravo to NG Council. 

It would be unfair to end this editorial without a short update on the County Road 43 expansion project itself. Mayor Peckford graciously confirmed that the hydro pole relocations for the upcoming bridge work have been completed. The tender for the massive $9.9 million County Road 43 expansion and bridge project is expected to go out early next month. The wheels of progress are turning. Let’s keep them greased with patience, and a positive look toward Kemptville’s future.  

2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree. County Road 43 has been “nuts” for years.
    One comment though: You say ” Roundabouts end up coming in handy for the wrong reason – they provide an easy U-turn location … ”
    The plan is to use the roundabouts for exactly that. The last I heard, at least, was that once the divided highway is complete, the only way to make a left-hand turn will be to turn right until you reach the first roundabout so that you can reverse direction, IE, use the roundabout for a U-turn.
    Drive safe ‘yall.

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