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Getting Around

More on the May 28 meeting.

The second main item after Membership on the consent agenda was a presentation by the Land Acquisition circle. Their assigned task was to determine what our criteria are when it comes to picking a piece of land on which to make an offer.

Bill, with his background as a hydrogeologist, explained in some detail why almost no piece of land is actually suitable for development.

Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration.

What he wanted to get across, I think, is that any piece of land, especially one whose use is being altered (for example, from farming to residential, or from single-family household to multi-unit community) is likely to pose challenges from the point of view of an engineer or city planner. A property beyond the reach of city services has to provide its own water supply and sewage system. Installing these systems is expensive, of course, and it complicates site selection. You can’t put a septic system just anywhere. New regulations, being introduced because of climate change in urban settings everywhere these days mean, for example, that dealing with sudden exceptionally heavy rain can be problematic. Storm sewers and drainage systems have to be more robust than before—and the challenge is compounded by the increasing demand for inner city densification.

So, basically, development on a very practical level, isn’t easy. And it’s costly.

Michele, and then Ed, took over after Bill was done to talk about some of our preferences with respect to the land we buy. How close to the urban core do we have to be? How reliant are we on public transit? What sort of dwelling do we have in mind? How big? What sort of amenities? What kinds of uses do we want to see in the common house? So many questions. There will be a survey via Survey Monkey.

The Land Acquisition circle presentation was as impressive as Membership’s. So was the response of the everyone present. People care deeply about the subjects that were broached. And Wendy’s facilitation of the meeting ensured that everyone spoke up and was listened to. We even stayed more or less on schedule.

For me, however, the bigger takeaway from the meeting, apart from the specific points that were raised, is that the work done by circles like Membership and Land Acquisition is becoming at least as important, and in the long run will be more important, than what happens when we’re all in a room together. What is most heartening about the way things are developing is that the circles are taking on a degree of autonomy. They’re identifying problems and coming up with solutions—they’re doing the really hard work of community building.

To revive Michele’s memorable metaphor: the circles are the wheels that support enterprise. We need them all rolling along in unison to get us to our destination. Sunday’s meeting was evidence that we’re not just spinning our wheels.


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