The controversy surrounding the proposed development of Southlands is fascinating but I sometimes wonder if it is more a case of NIMBYitis Syndrome as in "not in my backyard" than genuine concern for our farmlands.
Some proponents, I'm sure, are genuinely concerned for the existing agricultural lands. Others I wonder about.
Personally, I think it would be a mistake to see the Century Group have its way but not because I want to see agricultural land preserved. Our current highway system simply cannot handle a greater population.
One only needs to witness the masses of commuter vehicles, transport vehicles and ferry traffic plying Highway 17 each day as they all converge on the George Massey Tunnel. Let's not forget northbound traffic along Highway 99. I'm not suggesting that if the highways system were upgraded that I would be in favour of further development. Like many others, I too enjoy the relative peace and slower pace that presently exists.
However, the fact is that change and growth are inevitable. The other day I visited my old neighbourhood in Vancouver. I was lucky to find an original house still standing on the block I grew up on.
The neighbourhood and adjacent high school were predominantly Caucasian when I was a child. There has been a dramatic shift in the landscape and demographics during the past few decades, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Growth can be a good thing or perhaps not such a good thing. It all depends on one's perspective.
For some, increasing development will mean less privacy, more traffic congestion, possibly a higher crime rate, compromised views and less green space. Many residents want the tunnel upgraded or even replaced, but at the same time they do not want the influx of new residents this will generate, which would be a natural consequence of any future upgrades.
I did not realize that living out in Tsawwassen was based on a first come, first served criterion.
Many complain about the proposed mall developments on Tsawwassen First Nation land adjacent to Highway 17 because they are fearful this will change Tsawwassen forever. It will, of course, but rest assured these same individuals against such development will be shopping in those very malls because it will be far better than going to Vancouver or Richmond.
Regardless, Tsawwassen will change whether people like it not. Many will be attracted to Tsawwassen because housing affordability is simply out of reach in other parts of the Lower Mainland. Others will move away from Tsawwassen because it is losing its laid back, slower paced appeal.
Those who can adapt to change will. Those who cannot will have to redefine their priorities. This has always been the case since the first appearance of villages, towns and cities.
I will not be surprised if in the next 25 years [or sooner] we see the majority of Southlands developed, a second crossing adjacent to the George Massey Tunnel constructed, a casino or two popping up on First Nations land and Tsawwassen's population increasing significantly.
Demographics are changing. Lifestyles are changing. Land use is changing.
Sometimes we too have to change and adapt.
David F. Horvath
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