A new neighbour was marvelling that she could walk to the post office, bank, and pick a few things up at Foodland and be back home so quickly. My wife said, “Well when you’ve been here a while it will take you much longer because you’ll be stopping to chat with so many people.”
It was a very Lakefield conversation. It reflected part of why so many of us like living in this community so much.
Community matters. It matters because we are social beings who seek comfort among those who share beliefs, values, and habits. Communities, of course, are complex, overlapping, and with today’s technology, they can be virtual. Lakefield is a small geographic community and home to a diverse group of people who are linked by their shared conviction that a small, safe, walkable, accessible village is the best place in which to live, raise children, work, invest, run a business, and, perhaps most importantly, call home.
In our own ways, we all contribute to our Lakefield community. Our contributions might involve being a friendly neighbour, coaching a kids’ soccer team, playing pickleball or baseball at the park or hockey at the arena, taking the risk to begin a new business at home or downtown, volunteering, joining a Board, or running for public office. We are all part of the Lakefield community and in our own ways, we all contribute.
In May 2020, when we were hunkered down in the early days of the pandemic, two neighbours and I decided to play a one-hour driveway concert. I delivered a note to those within hearing distance and, like always happens in our Village, the word went out. On the afternoon of the concert, nearly 75 socially distanced people were gathered up and down the street, in lawn chairs, in cars, and on porches. It was great fun. It ended with The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There. There was dancing on William Steet. That was community.
Community was seen again with last May’s derecho. Neighbours were sharing generators and helping to clear fallen trees and hauling brush to the landfill. That was community.
Our municipal council protects community in ways that most of don’t think of as we go about our lives. Council ensures that infrastructure and services are properly maintained and upgraded. It ensures that infilling opportunities are properly planned and implemented. It should see that permits for improvements to our homes are processed quickly and properly.
Sometimes we are presented with a once in a generation challenge to our community. The impending construction of the Lakefield South Development Area, between the water tower and the 7th Line, is that challenge. It is one of two identified development zones in our township. The land has been purchased by a developer and the process to build 966 homes there has begun.
The problem, though, is that the current draft plan lacks a clear vision. Planning must always begin with a vision. That vision must reflect and respect Lakefield’s character. It must protect the interests of those now in the Village and those of the new neighbours we have not yet met. The vision must be fiscally responsible. It must recognize the climate crisis and so be environmentally sustainable.
Doubling the size of our Village and creating a new and huge neighbourhood is a daunting challenge and tremendous opportunity. We must get it right. In our desire to get it right we must always be thinking about what brought us here, what keeps us here, and what makes being here what it is—community.
We need a strong Lakefield voice on Selwyn Township Council. I hope I can earn your vote to become that voice.
(You are invited to my campaign launch on Thursday, September 8 at 7:00 at Lakefield’s Isabel Morris Park Pavillion. Please share this article and invitation with neighbours and friends.)