Stuck in a crater


“Progress, not perfection.” This is one of my favourite sayings. It acknowledges that if we never accept anything other than a perfect finished product, we may lose the motivation to keep on working and striving for better. But what is progress? Some people see it as a scary word, equating it with “change for change’s sake”. This can be particularly bothersome to small town folks, who often want things to stay as they are, lamenting big changes that hurt the magic of a “small town feel”. 

Another angle on the idea of progress is that it has been critically important for everything that ever was, and will carry the same importance for everything that will ever be. Do any of us really wish we could go back to the “good old days” of the year 1654? I assume I’m not the only one who is happy to be living in 2024, where people have far more rights and freedoms, and life is not marked with nearly as much hardship. There are undoubtedly people, however, who would want to return to the way life was in say… 1987 for example. (Yes, these example years are entirely random). 

What can we learn from this? Well, it means that no one is truly against progress. Some people just prefer rapid and pronounced progress, while others prefer a slower variety of change – the latter group may not like some of the social values of the modern world, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate the progress of ending witch trials or enjoying fast food hamburgers. 

I introduce the above notions of progress more as a precautionary measure than anything, to protect me from the inevitable strong opposing opinions that will be born from my next statement: North Dundas needs more progress. Before you scream, let me say… I know! North Dundas is charming. It’s built on tradition. It has its way of life and there is nothing about said way of life that needs changing. I know! I am not disagreeing with that. I love my community. 

I am not arguing in favour of faster social progress or changes to how we do things. I am saying that North Dundas needs more progress in the literal sense of needing more amenities. No, this doesn’t mean that I want a McDonalds or our own Walmart or any other symbol of big town living. I can say – as someone who also covers news stories in North Grenville – that there are many Kemptville residents who have struggled immensely with what they feel is the loss of their small town identity. Kemptville has, in the eyes of some (certainly not all) residents become a bedroom community for Ottawa, inhabited by an influx of newcomers who demand big box stores and other “city” things. Indeed, Kemptville is the smallest town in Ontario by population size to have its own Walmart. 

What amenities do I think North Dundas could use? One thing that comes to mind is some kind of public transportation. Winchester and surrounding villages can’t seem to keep a viable taxi service. One could make the argument that this means there simply aren’t enough North Dundas people who would use public transportation. I argue otherwise – is it not instead possible that in this economy, it isn’t possible to run the service as a private, for-profit business? North Grenville has just launched an on-demand transit system. There are no large city buses. The transit vehicle resembles a large van, and offers curb-to-curb service between points all around the Municipality. There are user fees for using the service (pay per ride or longer term passes), but because it’s a municipally run system, it doesn’t matter if there is a small loss in a given month, because it’s worth spending the miniscule amount of money in order to have such a service available to local residents. Why North Grenville but not North Dundas?

I visited my parents in Avonmore last week and noticed that a new (and very well constructed) outdoor rink can now be found set upon previously vacant land in the town’s only public park. My mom told me that residents all donated small amounts of money to raise enough to have the rink installed. North Dundas already has two arenas and a few outdoor rinks, but aren’t there other potential new recreational amenities we could get excited about? A skate park has been suggested. A splash pad has been suggested. What about a public basketball court or tennis court? South Mountain is lucky to have these last two things, but what about elsewhere locally? The skate park and splash pad ideas have routinely been rejected, even when it was proposed that residents would raise the money with absolutely no burden to taxpayers. Why? Bureaucratic nonsense. Forget about being stuck in a rut, sometimes it feels like we’re stuck in a crater.

It’s this difficulty in moving forward that makes me laugh at my self-proclaimed “outlandish” ideas such as my belief that with the new subdivision, South Mountain has grown big enough that it’s time to consider adding a public water system. There are too many people drawing water privately from the same small area, and I can attest to the fact that my water seems to be getting rustier and smellier by the day. But considering that Winchester and Chesterville water have posed ongoing problems for decades, who has time to think about South Mountain? It was only a few years ago that Maxville (in North Glengarry) added public water. Ah, such wonderful progress. I confess to feelings of jealousy. 

It’s respectable to be responsible with taxpayer money. I can also get on board with not wanting to change North Dundas’ small town charm. But sometimes we need a bit of “bold” in our lives. We can’t stay stuck in a crater forever, while the rest of the world is rocketing to the moon. 


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