Letter to the Editor: Paradise into a parking lot?

To the editor,

I find it ironic that on the day I write this letter it’s Joni Mitchell’s 75th birthday. One of Canada’s most iconic songwriters has given me the inspiration to write this letter.

On November 6, 2018 the departing council voted on and passed the decision to repair Ottawa Street, its sidewalks and I’m hoping its pavement. What most of us don’t realize is that lumped in with that they have decided to pave over the remaining portion of the front lawn of the Municipal building in Morrisburg.

Now I know there are still people in our community who feel it was a waste of time and money to have saved the last civic building in our community: but what is done is done and now we must respect the money we have put into it.

It is now the centre of our municipality and I feel that as a community we owe this building its due respect.

I don’t think the citizens of our municipality know exactly what this whole beautification of Ottawa Street entails. So what is happening to us again? “Tear down Paradise and put up a parking lot”?

During the election campaign it was discussed at length within the community about making our landscapes and streetscapes more attractive to new community members, new businesses and to the tourists who visit our community.

The last old growth tree on Ottawa Street came down this weekend and now the street looks like an airport runway to the river. Trees have been cut down but stumps have never been removed. The sidewalk is a disaster and it is to be repaired.

We talked at length of reforestation of our communities. But every day more trees come down and no new ones are planted in their place.

And now we are going to turn the front of our municipal building into a parking lot! Another glaring indication that the previous council had no vision of what our community should look like.

The town halls or municipal buildings in most other communities are visual signatures of how members of those communities feel about themselves.

So what does this decision say about South Dundas? Someone said to me if they wanted to visit that kind of landscape they could stay in any major town and see it. So why are we destroying the charm of our villages? It’s not too late!

As I said I’m not disappearing from my community. Almost 1,800 people gave me their support to speak up when I felt things need to be seen and spoken about.

Please let’s revisit the front lawn of the Municipal building. Once there are new sidewalks shouldn’t we have a walkway to the front of the building? What about a fountain? What about moving the Great War Memorial to a place of prominence? What about trees, benches and picnic tables?

I’d rather see an outdoor skating rink where families can enjoy an evening of being together skating in front of Our Town Hall instead of a bunch of cars, or an empty parking lot after business hours.

In my progressive fashion I have decided to put a poll on my Facebook page Michael Burton for change.

I hope our community will come together and indicate what they would like to see. Your choices will be (a) Paradise or (b) Parking lot.

Get together on my Facebook page and state your choice. I will take those choices to council and show them how we feel as a community. It’s not too late to save our paradise. But once it’s gone we’ll be left with yet another parking lot.

Michael Burton,
Morrisburg, Ontario.