Paving Shakespeare

7 Dec

During my last few trips to Stratford, Ontario, I notice that the nearby village of Shakespeare is under some kind of seige. Yellow tape runs across houses, big X’s mark the trees and there are signs everywhere saying ‘Save our Town.’

What’s going on? Apparently the provincial Ministry of Transport wants to pave the place — essentially — and replace it with a four/five lane highway. They want to destroy homes, shops and the entire atmosphere of a community — so people can drive faster.  In fact, the community, and thousands more like it across the province, will pay millions of dollars for them to do so.

I grew up not all that far from Shakepeare and have gone through it about a million times. My mother used to buy fresh peaches there every summer. As the years have passed and almost everything about this swathe of fertile Ontario farmland has changed, I’ve noticed that Shakespeare seems to be one the very few places that has not. In fact, the influx of tourists going on to Stratford has allowed it to preserve its old-fashioned architecture as antique shops and cafes.

Another town a few miles up the road, New Hamburg, has already been disfigured by small factories, car and equipment dealerships and fast food joints spreading out and aligning themselves along the five lane highway there. What is the real reason behind the move to turn communities two hundred miles from Toronto into crass-looking ‘Golden Miles’? Well, one is the techno-hub that has sprouted up in Kitchener-Waterloo. I lived in Waterloo for a year back in 1974 and remember it as an ugly little city next to another ugly and slightly larger city. Recent visits indicate that for all the economic growth, both places are still depressingly unattractive and provincial. 

However the main reason is the way agriculture has developed in this part of province. And I will be looking at what this all means in another post coming up shortly. Meanwhile, I hope that locals are able to fight the proposed highway widening and defend the integrity of this small rural community with its famous name.


One Response to “Paving Shakespeare”

  1. GC January 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Believe me, the people of Stratford don’t want this highway any more than do the residents of Shakespeare. I and everyone else I’ve spoken to about the situation much prefer expansion of a parallel road to the south of Shakespeare, Perth Line 33, as it runs right into the truck bypass which is supposed to be used by all transport trucks in an effort to preserve the atmosphere of the downtown. Even leaving the roads as they are and simply directing transport truck traffic down line 33 would ease congestion, if there were any, which there isn’t. The entire project is ludicrous and a waste of money and a perfectly cute hamlet. Assuming there’s anything Stratford City Council can do in December, and assuming I’m elected, I will stand with the people of Shakespeare in fighting the MTO’s plans for their homes and businesses.

    George Christie

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