Orangeville’s Beauty Challenge

May 27, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

The BIA is calling all artists to submit their ideas for a mural on the wall of the Chocolate Shop at 114 Broadway, which story is published in this issue, as the closing time and date for submissions is 5:00 p.m. June 4. The plan is for an interactive mural of the main stage at Theatre Orangeville to attract and “draw in” visitors to the town. They should want to take photos of themselves in front of it as we do with attractions wherever we travel.

The point is to show how vibrant and cultural a town this is and it is but…

Because there has not been sufficient support of local downtown businesses, several of the boutiques that made Broadway so attractive have disappeared and are being replaced by law and medical offices. The arts aspect of Broadway that has kept it beautiful for so many years is being diminished by the unrelenting closures of so-called non-essential stores.

This really has been a puzzle for me: if Walmart can be open, every store should be open. Don’t bother telling me that, recently in particular, non-essential items have been roped off in those large stores – what a nonsense – as if buying kitchen items was more dangerous than buying bread. Ridiculous to say that to purchase a work of art, a piece of jewellery, a sketch pencil, a book! is more likely to bring you into contact with Covid -19 than lining up to purchase your food and drink.

Rubbish – dangerous, business-killing rubbish. And, for a start, the consequence is that beautiful little shops, privately owned by people who took the bricks-and-mortar leap of faith and could not survive the rigours of being closed for months at a time, are being replaced by businesses who would be better located just off Broadway, just back from the heritage look of this historic downtown.

The cafes and restaurants, so important in a stretch of land like Broadway and the rest of Orangeville, how on earth will they make it through as the months of take-out roll on and re-opening means catering to a third of the clients it takes to balance the books? That and the huge increase of labour hours required to adhere to the protocols must sometimes leave owners wondering why they get up in the mornings. 

Still, they do get up and put their best feet forward and I have to admire their tenacity, their bravery and hope they can stay open. I hope they can continue to make Broadway and all of it attractive to us, to visitors. Keep feeding us, please, but it behoves all of us to continue to patronize those eateries with their take-out, for the sake of being able to enjoy them truly in times (soon, we hope) when we can sit at a table and leave the whole business of dining (and clearing up) to them. Those lovely hours of kidding with our server and at leisure to just relax over a meal with our companions.

I sure miss that.

Every year, for many years, Orangeville has entered the Canada Blooms competition, a nation-wide event that has adjudicators visiting small towns across the land to see how well kept are the parks and public spaces. Even to the extent of noting that the citizens of the towns tend to their own spaces with tidy lawns and pretty front gardens. Very often Orangeville comes out of it with awards and recommendations for the beauty of the old houses and buildings, how pleasant the place is. 

Big, huge Canada with its sparse but rapidly growing population is a target by perspective immigrants, by developers, industry and not necessarily those with Canada’s environment’s best interests in mind; financial institutions – well, all sorts of interested parties, who primarily see the frontier potential of the country. A Canada with a population of a hundred million people has been envisioned by some; we are just over a third of the way to that now at 38 million.

This is a time when beauty is at risk; a time too when town planning seems a thing of the past and developers have too free a hand to build to low standards in every regard. Miles of low-grade housing, all of the same design because they are cheaper to build, are the scourge of the 21st Century in towns and cities everywhere. The uglier-by-the minute malls shut down the quaint and beautiful main streets because people will agree to patronize the cookie-cutter shops. 

We need to build two new cities away from the jam along the 49th Parallel: absolutely green in the approach to development, founded on existing infrastructure: or re-building a city: Wawa was suggested by a friend. Bringing in the whole crowd to the fine line along the south of Ontario, of Canada is destroying too much precious land and abandoning beauty.

The demolitions on First Street indicate an intensive bout of building to come. Will it add or detract from Orangeville’s ambitions as a destination?

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