Comment une personne
fait-elle le tour du monde?
Penser globalement, agir localement; c’est bien ce qu’on
nous dit. Chaque petite action est importante et les efforts de chaque
individu vont aider à apporter des changements et des améliorations dans
Beth McLaughlin se penche sur les transports et la
durabilité dans son article, et elle déclare que: "Cultiver une
relation entre la ville et la campagne et valoriser les producteurs de nos
aliments, ce sont là des étapes majeures dans la direction de la
does a person get
around in the world?
People Against Nuclear Energy
boat, wheelchair, wagon, ferry, bicycle, motorcycle, carriage, car, van,
bus, truck, train, plane and roller blades, are just a few ways we get
around. These modes have carried explorers, traders, workers, travelers
and tourists to all corners of this planet. The path, the waterway, the
sidewalk, the road or highway and even the air corridor complement these
modes of transportation. We move about for a change of air, a change of
scene, a search for an exchange, to make a living, to have an adventure,
to live. Let us look at how we can lessen our impact on the earth.
Most Canadians have become very conscious of our behaviours and of
the negative effects that our actions are having on the air we breathe,
the soil we grow our food in and the water we drink. Our quality of life
is directly associated with the quality of our environment, but our
social life is just as vital. The laws of the land and the political
arena also have a great bearing on our quality of life.
What is the purpose of a highway? Is the best highway the
"simple-minded single purpose" solution, the straightest line
between two points, the lowest common denominator in construction costs?
We have recently witnessed in this province this very approach to the
choice of route of the Trans Canada Highway. Many people
(environmentalists, lovers of the planet, of the Grand Lake Meadows)
fought to include other values beyond speed and economics.
Suppose that nature is process, that it is interacting, that it
responds to laws, representing values and opportunities for human use
with certain limitations and even prohibitions to certain of these.
Using this idea, many problems can be examined and resolved.
Ian McHarg, author of Design With Nature (1969), has the
wisdom to suggest that resource values, social values and aesthetic
values should be included, as well as normal criteria of physio-
traffic and engineering considerations, when selecting a "highway
alignment". In fact, the method to calculate the savings and costs
of a proposed highway, says McHarg, should reveal the "highway
alignment having the maximum social benefit and the minimum social
cost". Note the word social is used twice in this statement. After
all, for whose benefit is the highway? Of all things made, ultimately
for whose use are they?
In the selection of a route, McHarg's method incorporates the unseen and
unforeseen potential of possible highway routes. Value added to terrain
now accessible because of the new highway (or upgrading of an old one)
must be balanced by the loss of such social values such as residential,
agricultural and recreational. The balance sheet must also include
historical and archeological values. Still on this side of the equation
are costs because of impacts on wildlife and forest resources. Surface
and groundwater resources and their potential must be factored in. Poor
foundation and poor drainage (here again, were these values included in
the decision to pave the Grand Lake Meadows?) must be accounted for.
Structures, like culverts and bridges will elevate costs considerably
(175 such structures are necessary for NB's new highway). McHarg
emphasizes that beauty be incorporated into the choice of site selection
or to enhance the contours and natural gifts of the land.
Let us move on to the vehicles riding on the highway. Before pointing
fingers and condemning each other for expelling harmful substances into
the air, we must look at the distribution of our food and goods. Fifty
years ago, Canadians were far more self-sufficient food-wise, while
today we have a greater selection and more fresh food, but at what cost?
Who is growing the food, how is it grown? Where are the jobs in food
production? Just thirty years ago, there were thirty thousand farmers in
NB. Today, we have fewer than one thousand. Trucks travel across the
continent belching carbon dioxide and heavy metals to deliver fresh
broccoli to us. While delivering the organic oranges, they tear up the
tarmac on both sides of the border, simultaneously contributing to
global warming, climate change and the subsequent contamination of
Think Globally, Act Locally, we are told. Every little bit helps and
each individual's effort will help bring change and improvements on the
whole. Cultivating a relationship between town and country, valuing the
producers of our food, are major steps toward sustainability. This adds
vitality to our way of life in many ways: reducing the consumption of
fossil fuels and their emissions into the atmosphere because less food
is trucked across the continent and enhancing our own independence by
buying meat, eggs and vegetables from our own gardeners and farmers. As
economists note, small businesses generate more business.
Many of us live in towns of traditional design or the remnants of
traditional town planning, where the shops and services, recreational
facilities, schools and churches are at the heart of the living area
within easy walking distance for residents. However, picturing towns
like Sussex, Grand Falls, Shediac, Rexton, Campbellton and Bathurst, the
heart no longer contains all those services.
Does it take a litre of gas to buy a litre of orange juice? If it
does, you understand a bit more about urban planning. The suburb is
planned around the presence of the car. Wide streets and car use put
distance between people. Though we may value our privacy, we complain
about the breakdown of social ties, the lack of leisure time and of our
busy lives. Jane Jacobs, the famous urban planner, writes that vitality,
be it economic or social, is all tied together and must be so in design.
The design of the city, to generate diversity (and therefore social and
economic vitality), needs four
essential principles or components.
1)The design must have mixed primary uses. This means that residential,
commercial and even light industry are all incorporated into the
neighborhood. Jacobs underscores that these neighborhoods are designed
for safety by the very presence of business people, shopkeepers and even
bar owners, who want peaceful streets in order to keep business flowing,
and keep an eye on the streets themselves. These are accessible by foot,
wagon, baby carriage, bicycle and roller blades.
2) Nice short city blocks, where people can pool together
inadvertently, but create informal social links, including those with
their neighborhood merchants. (Long blocks, the urban planners'
favorite, tend to have everyone moving in the same direction, thus
failing to create those social and economic pools).
3) Need for aged buildings. A mix of buildings, plain ordinary
buildings, some fine renovated handsome old buildings and new buildings
make for a variety of pocketbooks and enterprises whose revenue can
handle the necessary rent or mortgage. If only new buildings exist, the
high cost of construction will be reflected in the need for high rents.
Chain stores, chain restaurants and banks go into new construction,
while foreign restaurants, locally-owned book stores and antique dealers
go into small shops.
4) To generate diversity and social and economic vitality,
concentration is needed. Concentration or density does not mean
overcrowding. Now, density is a characteristic which no city in NB can
really claim, as is evidenced by the parking lot which every big
business, mall or employer offers up to its employees and clients.
Try to picture small parking lots, public bus stops at each corner,
pedestrian and bicycle accesses, with the remaining huge spaces filled
in with a mixture of affordable residences, a variety of shops and
services. Contrast this to a new development in the far reaches of the
town limits. This picture would
keep infrastructure down costs for
services (and taxes), add vitality and diversity to the area and reduce
traffic because people can walk. The opportunity to walk rather than
being obliged to get in a vehicle has countless benefits; fresh air,
interaction with neighbours and moving at a pace benefitting a heart
By providing alternative transportation options (to the
sedentary-lifestyle- promoting car) in our towns, it is a good beginning.