For those who might be interested, I’ve launched a new blog dedicated to Ottawa politics, Steps from the Canal. In my first post, I take on commuter culture, urban sprawl and mass transit:
We’re proud of our use of mass transit. So many of us have escaped the pollution-spilling single car, pooling the externalities of our commute so that our desire to live as far away as possible from our workplace no longer kills the environment as quickly as it used to. We pat ourselves on the back for our green living, ignoring the black smoke pouring out the back of each articulated bus.
Zoning laws are our accomplices. Bedroom communities have been springing up for more than a generation, and they’re spreading – taking over small towns and rural communities.These are residential zones; no businesses may apply. People often choose these communities for the remoteness. The 9 to 5 drudgery must not weigh down our weekend enjoyment.
As we flee the city on our bloated red and white caterpillars, we have to go further and further to satisfy our hedonism. Land within the greenbelt is scarce. Land just outside has been consumed as quickly as possible. More and more houses are squished into less and less land. But still, the North American ideal is to have the big house with the big yard. If your measure of worth is your white picket fence, each fence post will further validate your lifestyle.
To afford these big lots, we have to escape further and further. Where Woodroffe meets highway 16 was always a pleasant escape from city lights as you made your way to Manotick, North Gower or Kars. Now, we can barely see the river for the backhoes needed for that next development. There is no sustainability to a suburban life transplanted to a rural area. The body rejects the foreign organ and only an infusion of new mass transit blood will keep it from dying.
But I guess none of you (other than Katherine) are in Ottawa, are you?