The one local issue we hear about most is roads. To maintain our roads properly would subsume the whole of the County’s annual budget, so we do triage and only repair the ones that need repair the most or that have the noisiest advocates. The situation is untenable.
I have a solution to offer, which I’ll get to right after I explain how my idea originated.
I was nourishing myself intellectually, by watching the college basketball playoffs, when I saw back-to-back advertisements for three different SUVs, from three different manufactures. The vehicles were virtually identical and all best in their class, just like, in Lake Woebegone, where all the children are above average. Each SUV was pitched on the basis of their prowess as off-road vehicles, shown climbing impossibly steep hills or sloshing through muddy ditches or herding sheep, all aimed at purchasers who will more likely spend their time ferrying kids back and forth to the hockey rink and the soccer field and never go near the wild. Then it hit me. “Off-roading” is what all those people secretly imagine themselves doing.
Why don’t we just declare that most of what the County deems to be ‘roads’ are no longer ‘roads’ and will no longer be maintained? If they aren’t ‘roads’ any more, they must be ‘off-roads’; therefore, if you drove on a former County road, at your own risk, of course, you would be ‘off-roading.’‘ You would kill two birds with one stone: you’d reduce the size of the County’s roads problem, and fulfill the dream of SUV owners, everywhere, by turning the County into a paradise for off-roaders, with easy access from major urban areas.
Imagine the excitement when a suburban Big Smoketown resident chats with a neighbour,
SUV owner: “What did you do last weekend?”
Neighbour: “Oh, nothing much. You?”
SUV owner: “Oh, you know, the usual. Took the kids off-roading in the County; had a blast. Probably going to do it this coming weekend too. Might stay away from the trail formerly known as Chuckery Hill Road next time.”
Neighbour: Breathes envious sigh.
Six weeks later.
Neighbour: “Like my new SUV? It’s the new County Off-roader Limited Edition with built in consciousness controls.”
SUV owner: “I want one too”
Yes, automobile dealers will love us.
Naturalists might be slightly less in favour of the wholesale incursion of SUVs, regarding them as a threat equivalent to mobile wind turbines. However, I remind them the idea is limited to current roads. If roads are turned intro off-roads, there will be lots of room for off-roaders. They will not have to venture into the sensitive spots, which, therefore, may retain their natural inhabitants.
Besides, I’m sure that not even turtles and bats would want to stand in the way of beings with superior intelligence having their fun. We could, as a kind of quid pro quo, perhaps design special cages so that the animals could go off-roading with our visiting drivers and experience the thrills for themselves.
I admit I’m not a big one for details and there are a number of details to iron out. For instance, our target market may well shift over time as the roads deteriorate with more use and no maintenance. The initial ‘gentle’ off-roading clientele is likely to give way to extreme sports enthusiasts and, after a few years, we may have to abandon off-roading for public safety reasons. Yet, we may still be able to offer up the County as a movie setting. I see a “Mad Max: County Roads.” It would sure be cheaper to film here than in Abyssinia or wherever it was they shot the last sequel.
I also acknowledge there will be some very difficult decisions to make in the de-roading process. Let’s take it as a given that roads 33, 49 and 62 are kept. I can see a strong defence mounted by your roads 1, 2 and 3 people. I can see a sort of preservation argument for roads 10, 11, 12 and 18. People will of course fight for their roads, despite the fiscal instability they create.
Who knows, with the advances in technology, a ‘road’ may soon become an anachronism: lightweight helicopters could bring us to hospitals and heavyweight drones might ship us our groceries. Best therefore to think short to medium term.
Just remember the County can only be ‘hip’ for so long. What will we do attract visitors then? Thank goodness for college basketball tournaments!
Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.
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