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May 08, 2024

Open letter to Grey County Planner: A pivotal moment for the future of the Beaver Valley watershed

Kimberley General Store

OPEN LETTER TO SCOTT TAYLOR, DIRECTOR OF PLANNING FOR GREY COUNTY — I am writing to you from the General Store in the village of Kimberley, set along the river between two escarpment bluffs in the beautiful Beaver Valley watershed, Coyotes howl at night under starry skies and their calls bounce between the valley walls.

Throughout history, General Stores have brought people together. People come into the store to find what they need, and while they often walk out with a loaf of bread, what they remember the most is if they’ve made a meaningful connection with someone else. When we meet new neighbours, share ideas, become inspired, and care for each other, we are building a rural culture that includes environmental stewardship, brilliant artistic expressions, healthy recreational activities, interconnected associations, and a social fabric that is resilient and self-sustaining,

I share this because I want to emphasize the scale at which our community operates. When we talk about quality of life, bigger is not better. Better is better. We need to know our neighbours — a valuable feature of being rural—and we need to believe that we have a say in the decisions that impact our community—a democratic process that should be highly regarded by our local governments. The most important voices in decision-making should be from the people who call it “home”.

I’ve heard the word 'revitalize' used for several years now to refer to the Beaver Valley, but this undervalues what we have, namely an incredibly rich history, with natural and cultural assets that are beyond belief. We are already vital and in fact we see how much there is to lose. We want to share what is special about the Valley with the people who visit our home, because we know that an experience in the nature and culture of the Valley can impact people’s lives by fostering appreciation and restoring the human condition.

But sharing the Valley requires deep thoughtfulness and intention to prevent an out-scaling of the very qualities that make the watershed special. The proposed subdivision development at Talisman will gut our community. It will take the jewel of Kimberley off the map of Grey County. And the implications will reverberate throughout the entire watershed — to the water quality downstream, and to the communities upstream where new municipal servicing infrastructure will be an irrigation system for further developments. Subdivisions should happen in primary settlement areas, where urban quality of life has its own advantages.

Financial transactions should never trump relationships. I say this as a small business owner, as an inhabitant of the beautiful Beaver Valley, as a citizen of Grey County, and as one voice among many throughout the world that says we need to operate under a different value system if we are to address the massive issues that we face globally.

Be assured, money will flow through the Valley. But we can choose to build systems for financial transactions that sustain and enhance our natural and cultural assets, namely tourism that is place-based. As special places become fewer and far between, people will continue to visit the Valley in ever greater numbers. Place- based tourism should not be under-estimated — it is globally cutting-edge and would make the Beaver Valley truly world class.

This is a pivotal moment for deciding the future of the entire watershed. Please consider carefully what can be gained by standing up for something so special and the impact of its preservation for the generations after us.

Let people find what they need in the beautiful Beaver Valley.

Stacie Howe,
Kimberley General Store


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