Capping the Forest City Until October 2014 Makes No Sense

By Jay Menard

Sometimes a tree branch starts growing in a direction that you don’t want. There are a number of ways to control this growth, ranging from pruning to capping, but in the end all you’re doing is preventing the tree’s natural growth.

It makes sense if the tree is infringing on your home or at risk of causing damage, but to cap a tree simply because you don’t like the way it looks — or, worse, the colour of its foliage — is ludicrous.

Yet that’s exactly what some are suggesting we should do in London, Ontario. Essentially, there are those who are content to cap the Forest City’s growth until Oct. 27, 2014.

You see the sentiment each and every time there’s an article that even casually discusses the potential that the current London city council make financial decisions. You read a similar sentiment on Twitter and other social networks — a “woe is us” mentality that can only be rectified when prune everyone from council chambers and start fresh.

There are Twitter-based municipal election countdown clocks and a steady diet of wishing away time in the hope that October 2014 will magically appear.

But that’s still a year and a half away. While some may be content to put the City of London in a position of temporary inertia for almost 18 months, I’d rather foster an environment where the Forest City can continue to grow in a positive direction.

And those suggesting the current council should be prevented from making any further decisions are also the very same ones loudly criticizing our elected representatives from making any progress.

Our political system isn’t perfect, but it can work. Lament all you like about poor voter turnout, but a majority or plurality of Londoners chose the representation they currently have. It’s a choice they made then and many may still be satisfied with their actions. Others may not.

Regardless, everyone has an option that’s far more sensible and productive than waiting for an Electoral Godot to arrive in October 2014.

There are those who suggest that talking to plants can help them grow. Like a tree, council is a living, breathing organism — and you do have the right to talk to your elected representatives.

You have the right to assume your branch is more important than the other 13 in the Forest City. You have the right to suggest that your cluster of leaves has a monopoly on understanding what’s best for the city as a whole. And you have the right to undervalue the efforts, contributions, and desires of the tree’s other leaves.

You have those rights, but that doesn’t make you right.

Just because you, personally, don’t like the way the tree’s growing doesn’t mean that there aren’t many more who want to see nature take its course. Like the book, that Electoral Godot may never arrive if a greater number of Londoners feel satisfied with its representation.

A tree gains its majesty not from the prominence of an individual branch, but rather the dynamic interplay of its collection of branches and leaves. When we look at a tree, we see not the individual leaves, but rather a cohesive canopy all working together supported by a strong trunk. Each year, that tree not only gains another ring but also changes ever so slightly.

And, most importantly, cutting off that branch to retard growth may work. But it also might cause the tree as a whole to die.

Instead of artificially capping growth, perhaps we need to continue to feed, water, and nurture our Forest City. Some may want to wait, but I don’t see the value of delaying any growth for a year and a half.

All that will do is allow those other trees in the forest to get bigger and claim even more of our sunlight.

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