Thursday, February 29, 2024

In Defence of Municipal Holiday Decorations

Editor,

Regarding Editor Stephen Vance’s Rant (The 3Rs…Rants, Raves & Rumours, December 14 print edition) about holiday decorations in Meaford, steps taken to make our town attractive to visitors should not be considered a “frill”. Aesthetics and design for improving the experience of a community should never thought of as just ‘prettying’ things up. Dismissing Deputy Mayor Shirley Keaveney’s desire to showcase our small town is rather patronizing. The decision by Council to not invest in putting out and maintaining floral displays (on bridges, etc.) during the summer months as well as the lack of seasonal holiday decorations has been disappointing. As someone who has visited many small communities in Canada and Europe, the aesthetic appeal of a town is seen as a significant demonstration of civic pride. This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit the town of Knowlton in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The amount and maintenance of incredible flower displays, sculpture and public art throughout town was absolutely stunning. Tourists flock there and no one regards this enhancement as frivolous.

As a relative newcomer to Meaford, I am impressed with the strong sense of community here. The people of Meaford are warm and welcoming. I have become involved in myriad activities. I am a volunteer with the Meaford Hospital Garden Group. I can tell you that the addition of many spectacular gardens on the property do much more than just ‘pretty things up’. They bring beauty and joy to patients and families experiencing illness and challenging situations. I moved here after living in my previous small community for thirty years. It too was facing similar growth and development challenges. I served on the Town Improvement Plan Committee there and was constantly dismayed when our recommendations for maintaining the small town appeal (with the addition of flower displays, seasonal holiday decor, etc.) were ignored and the town was left diminished. Let us not allow that to happen here.

While Meaford faces many challenges as a growing community, and while concerns like infrastructure improvements, housing and development are paramount, we also see ourselves as a tourist community; attracting visitors to our town then cannot be an afterthought.

Marie Burnett, Meaford

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