Do Pontiac municipalities know there is a national housing crisis? Do our mayors and councillors understand they can build viable communities that will attract families and seniors?
The Pontiac embodies rural values, scenic vistas, and a sedate quality of life. It has not been spoiled by technology and the industrial complex. It has farm land needing protection. It can be a tourist destination. And it can offer city dwellers an attractive place to live in communities where people can safely raise their families and where seniors can live without stress.
The need for affordable housing makes it ripe for small municipalities to act. But they need leaders with vision and courage to act boldly and take charge of their town’s development.
A community is a place where people grow up and know their neighbours. Basic services like groceries and medical care are within reach. There are other services including libraries, and sports facilities; community groups and many activities for young and old. The quality of life is not ruined by the constant hubbub of traffic, big box stores, pollution and crime. People feel a connection to each other, a connection not usually available in the urban metropolises. Why not build on this premise?
The internet reduces commuting and opens the door for the small rural community to advertise itself as a place new residents looking for a saner quality of life can choose to call home.
Municipalities all over Quebec are striving to find new ways of surviving. They are trying to cope with the great demographic shift of population – the loss of youth – from rural to urban. They dream of importing large enterprises that will bring jobs, wealth and prosperity.
However, the promise of big time employers saving rural vitality is a relic of the past. Small rural towns have to find ways to counteract this trend by creating places that people want to live. They can attract people by designing, developing and building their own best communities. Plumbers, electricians and carpenters will be needed to build the infrastructure in every viable community.
Municipalities and their local leaders need to seize the day to develop community interest, a vision and a plan of action. Good leaders will find the necessary financing.
The challenges of the small rural villages of the Pontiac are real. It takes dreamers and hard workers to re-imagine the future; the community of the future Pontiac needs nothing less. Because a community is more than a city.