Hart: Perth needs appropriate growth, not growth for growth’s sake

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A Dec. 19 opinion piece by Randall Denley characterized opposition to Caivan’s proposed housing development on the Perth Golf Course as unwarranted, bad for the town and rooted in not wanting to see the town grow. He sketched a caricature of community opposition to the proposed development.

Here are some facts he could have considered in painting a more accurate picture of the situation.

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It was not a change in the makeup of our Town Council that resulted in a shift in support for the development (four of seven are returning members). It was a change in the proposal, including the fundamentally important access route and the number of homes.

Perth residents are varied in their view of the development, but they are not, generally speaking, opposed to growth. There are other locations and other developers with proposals that many of us feel are a better fit for the town than the golf course development as proposed. We would like to see growth that is inclusive of affordable options and considers the climate crisis we are living with, for example.

If accepted, the Caivan proposal would lock down all of the town’s medium-term development potential, as the town’s infrastructure could not accommodate further growth without major investments that would be far beyond the town’s financial means.

In the first of the Ontario Land Tribunal hearings, representatives for both Lanark County and the Town of Perth indicated an openness to considering a modified development plan. It was Caivan that said it was sticking with the development as proposed.

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It was Caivan, by the way, not the Town or County governments, that took the issue to the costly and time-consuming Ontario Land Tribunal process.

In August, Town Council asked Caivan to provide a revised proposal that was more consistent with previous expectations, the Town’s official plan and zoning bylaws. Sounds reasonable to this Perth citizen who is excited to welcome more people to town with the right kind of growth, not growth for growth’s sake.

Ramsey Hart is a Perth resident, member of the ad hoc committee Perth Citizens for Sensible Community Development, and has registered as a participant in the OLT process.

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