I gave a talk on economic renewal for the County of Renfrew on Monday September 17, 2012 at
10 am at the Best Western Renfrew Inn and Conference Centre. The challenges
facing the county are not unlike small towns elsewhere in rural Ontario and, for that matter, in other Provinces of
Canada and in the US
draw on work by Erik Kuhne of CivicArts.com, small villages in Crete and noted
development economists like Hernando de
Soto and Walt Rostow. Neo-urbanist planning principles
also form part of proposed solutions– Jane Jacobs and more recently Richard
Florida have done extensive work in this area.
architects gave over (circa the immediate post WWII era) the design of cities,
towns and villages to urban planners with their moronic monoculture zoning maps
(big box stores here, office buildings there, ridiculously named ‘industrial
parks’ here, single family homes there and, oh, we forgot to set aside some
land for civic buildings like schools and our budgets are tight so let’s build
schools on cheap crap land no one else wants like under high tension power
lines so we can irradiate our kids when they are most vulnerable (i.e.,
experiencing the fastest cell division of their lives)), we started to produce
the worst urban blight, maybe ever. Right. Heck of a plan. I blame the
profession of architecture.
actually know something about design, delight, light, space, negative space,
art, beauty, utility, form and function. Urban planners have zoning codes that
they think are the equivalent of the Ten (Million) Commandments. Cities are
being planned by Vogon bureaucrats? Are you kidding me? No wonder almost
everything built in the last 60 years is a piece of crap.
County of Renfrew cannot revive its regional or
local economies without reviving its urban fabric. The good news is that the
county has some main streets (in Renfrew, Pembroke, Petawawa, Eganville and
elsewhere) that have ‘good bones’.
have strength in outdoor adventure (snowmobiling, skiing, whitewater rafting,
kayaking, fishing, canoeing, motor boating, sailing, camping, RVing and resort
stays) that they can build on and there are lots of inexpensive initiatives
that take more guts than money to start and carry through to completion…