Here are the slides from a talk on economic renewal that I am giving 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 as well.
I 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.
When 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.
Architects 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.
The 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’.
They 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…
[If you would like to view the slides as a PDF, please click on the following link: http://www.old.dramatispersonae.org/renfrew-reborn.pdf. To download a copy in PPT format, please click on: http://www.old.dramatispersonae.org/renfrew-reborn.ppt.]
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