23 July 2010

Early morning walk to White Tail Ridge

Yesterday, construction work at White Tail Ridge, the 100 acre property next door to ours, began particularly early, and particularly loudly. The rock crushing, drilling and blasting that we've become quite used to intruded on our sleep and our early morning walk. This morning I decided to walk up the road to see what all the commotion was about.

It was about this. It was about piling up huge piles of crushed rock to make way for roads, sewers and utilities for a new subdivision. Site preparation has recently begun after years of controversy and financial problems at the site.

One might question the wisdom of plunking a 153 home subdivision on a country road, a couple of kilometres from town. One might ask the planning department if they realize we have entered the 21st century. One might also inquire of the developer how they expect to sell homes at a profit in a declining market while incorporating quite extraordinary site prep costs. And who do they think will buy all these houses in suburban Almonte? 

The developers of White Tail Ridge have followed the time-honoured and horribly ironic tradition of naming the subdivision after something that was present only before development. There certainly were whitetail deer on this property, but between the noise and vibration and destruction of habitat they have no doubt absconded. Perhaps a more accurate name might be White Tail Riddance.

I quite honestly don't believe that we will ever see more than a sales trailer, or perhaps a show home built on this site, but I fear the habitat has been irreparably scarred and the energy that has been consumed to do the scarring has been lost forever to entropy. Sometimes I feel like the only person around (in real life, seems like there are plenty of us on the internet) who sees that we are rapidly approaching economic, energy and environmental limits that make this kind of activity a terrible waste.


  1. My heart sunk as i followed this post. Despair and angst to follow... I live on Cape Cod , Massachusetts and well understand the sorrow at destruction of existing habitat. We seem to pay a lot of lip service ("mouth honor") to preservation, but when it comes down to it - development rules.
    I have been looking for micro habitats lately. Around the corner from my house there was a tiny field next to an old house on the market. The field was full of wild flowers and grasses that supported several flocks of finches. When the house was sold, I worried about this field. Here is its fate: sold to out of state second home owners, field completely razed and replaced by a hydroseeded lawn (which came up terribly and is now full of tick weed, etc.) I was so sad I left a note explaining what had been lost on this corner. And signed my name....another small part of the native Cape space gone. I often wonder if I should be looking for somewhere more rural...if this place is destined to be lost...
    Thanks for maintaining this site - it makes me feel connected to others who feel this way - And in another country-wonderful. I am full of admiration for it.

  2. The position of our municipality is that we must have growth, so we can have the development fees, so that we can pay for the current services we provide. And who will miss some old overgrown pasture anyway? We'll ignore the fact that those trees are actually part of a forest, and forests have value greater than the number of board-feet they contain.

    I don't know if there is anyplace to escape to. It seems governments at all levels are solely engaged in the business of protecting the rights of corporate interests to make money by extracting public resources. Rural areas around here are subject to industrial farming, logging and mining.

    It is very sad that a beautiful place like Cape Cod would become uninhabitable to people like yourself. Humans need nature, too, and some of us are more sensitive to its loss. Of course, as we move farther and farther into the countryside to find nature, we diminish it in the process.

    It's really hard to be a good earth citizen.

  3. I hope you're right about the whole development collapsing before it is completed. I suspect the refinancing that continued its development occurred at the height of the irrational exuberance that many embraced in 2009/10 after a disasterous 2008. As consolation here on Salt Spring, I view the real estate listings, which seem to hit a fresh record number every week. There's a lake resort here that's been in limbo for years presumably for water/money issues (a lack, in both cases). It seems there is a disproportionate number of roads leading up mountains to nowhere, with For Sale signs and invasive plants on the disturbed soil replacing the more natural environment that once existed. But very little new construction is happening. Almost everyone I talk to recommends waiting to buy. Meanwhile, it seems the whole financial system - minus the stock market - continues to teeter on the brink, waiting for the next Lehman wrench to fall into one of its cogs.

    Here's hoping.



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