At the end of this past summer, I had a realization that I have been waiting for an opportunity to share. We took a road trip and brought our dogs along. We researched a highly reviewed dog park in a town about an hour from here (I won’t say which town, in case anyone from there is reading), and we were excited to bring our two black labs. When we arrived, we couldn’t help but laugh. The dog park was a fenced-in area about the size of an average backyard. No real amenities, just fenced in grass and a bench for tired humans.
Aside from feeling snobby and smug, the experience also made us realize how lucky we are to have the Ferguson Forest Centre, and how proud we should be of all that North Grenville has to offer. The dog park at the Ferguson Forest Centre is quite frankly stunning. It covers a massive area, with an equal mix of forest area and open space, with a separate fenced area for small dogs, water on site, benches for humans, and obstacles for the dogs. It’s an amazing place, and dare I say we sometimes take these types of amenities for granted? The dog park in the neighbouring town seemed laughable, but the reality is that it is probably an “average” dog park. What we have in Kemptville just makes it look bad. Even our dogs seemed disappointed when we brought them to this other park. They know what “dog park” means and were very excited until we arrived. I can only imagine that they were shattered they couldn’t see their Kemptville puppy friends.
Of course, there is much more to be proud of in North Grenville than the dog park. I will shy away from making a list, so as not to offend any businesses or community groups by leaving someone out, but suffice it to say that North Grenville is great. I imagine almost all readers will agree. This got me thinking of the old problem of “change for change’s sake” in politics. It does not take much for people to get fed up with politicians. One decision or idea that a person disagrees with is often enough to turn someone against a politician. We then hear calls for change, or phrases like “if you want change you have to vote for it!” The problem with voting solely for change, is that you never know if the change will be a good one or a bad one. All politicians make mistakes, but some mistakes are worse than others.
North Grenville voted overwhelmingly against change in the election that just passed. In the 2018 election, an entirely new Council was elected. In this year’s election, every single incumbent kept their seat. Votes speak louder than complaints, because a complaint is the opinion of one, while an election communicates the will of the majority. Perhaps not the “majority” when one considers extremely low voter turnout, but we must assume that those who don’t vote simply don’t care enough about local politics, and would therefore not shift the winds of support for any candidate in one direction or the other anyway.
So despite the complaints of the few, why did the majority of voters vote against change? I like to think it is because North Grenville residents are practical and thankful for what is already here. Much more than just a dog park of course (though I do love the dog park!), but also the countless local shops and restaurants and recreational amenities that make North Grenville a great place to live. Did the current Council build all these things? Of course not, but maintaining what is already here is just as important. One prime example is Highway 43. I have spent 10-15 minutes attempting to get from one side of Kemptville to the other via Highway 43 at peak traffic times. Sustainable growth in Kemptville, built over the course of generations, has finally led to a main thoroughfare that can’t keep up with the local traffic. This Council was tasked with coming up with a solution, and they did just that. The widening of Highway 43 will be a welcome upgrade in the years to come. Other things under consideration such as a transit system and maybe even an indoor aquatics centre show that the current Council is looking toward the future, and supporting sustainable growth.
Has the current, re-elected Council made mistakes along the way? Of course. To err is human. But one important thing to remember is that other communities are truly undervalued by their elected officials. Merrickville-Wolford residents decided it was time for a change in leadership, and residents of North Dundas didn’t have a choice when it came to their Mayor and Deputy Mayor, as these positions were filled through acclamation. A recent situation has left many North Dundas residents wishing that they would have had an alternative Mayor to vote for. Wanting our local situation in North Grenville to be perfect when it is already very good would be selfish. Voters had a choice, and they chose against change for change’s sake.
North Grenville has much to be proud of, and choosing to continue to be represented by the politicians who have done a great job these past few years is also worthy of pride. Congratulations to Nancy, John, Doreen, Deb, and Kristin on your election victory. Many thanks to all of the other candidates who put their names forward – running for office is an endeavor that is often thankless and exhausting. And finally, continue to hold your head high, North Grenville. This Council and this community are both things to be very proud of.