In defense of the Glebe

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Matthew Pearson has a new post up at the City Hall Blog (yay, they’re updating the blog again) about the recent public meeting about OSEG’s transit plan for Lansdowne. Since we’re talking about the Glebe, there have been a lot of comments disparaging the complaints of the (stereo)typical Glebe resident.

But not to fear, Glebites, Pearson’s got your back:

Now, I’ve covered a lot of public meetings during my time as a reporter and can tell you that this is usually when public meetings lose the plot. People line up in single file with all their grievances and unload, their voices rising in anger as their confidence (or indignation?) is boosted by cheers from the audience.

The temperature in the room rises to a boil and soon nothing the people answering the questions can say will appease the angry masses.

Well, I sat in that grand hall on Third Avenue and can tell you it didn’t go down this way. Sure, some folks made snide comments about the Lansdowne redevelopment, but the vast majority was civilized and respectful. They got up, asked questions about things that matter to them and then returned to their seats.

Obviously, there’s middle ground. Some people are reasonable; others are not. Some people have strong opinions about the transportation plan; some of us don’t. However, there’s even something to be said for those who react strongly to these matters. As I wrote last year:

This does, of course, smack of NIMBYism (generally a scourge on development, progress and personal freedom). As bad as NIMBYism can be, it does have an upside. Those who so value their backyards and their communities are those who are working to make our communities stronger. Yes, the melodramatic lamentations over the removal of a few trees may be hard to take, but the opposite – living in a purely atomized city where you do not feel a connection to the community in which you live – is worse.

This is not an all-out defense of NIMBYism, but a sense of community is a wonderful thing.

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