By Emily Stonehouse
I’ve always been an early riser. The opportunity to watch the sun come up over a new day, that first cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes up, a few quiet moments before the responsibilities kick in. It’s lovely.
Is it by choice? Absolutely not.
I have a cat who requires immediate attention at 5:15 on the dot every single morning. Is he starving? No. Is he thirsty? Also no. Does he have an attitude problem I would like to adjust? Yes. Definitely.
I found myself thinking – as little paws swatted at my face at 5:15 on the one day I was able to sleep in for weeks – about the housing summit I attended and the four words I left the day thinking about; “what would it take?”
The summit was hosted by Place for People, and had everyone with some pull in municipal, county, and provincial politics in the room. It was a full day of panel discussions, an abundance of answers, and somehow, even more questions.
What is the core of the housing issues? Is it the costs? The zoning regulations? Transportation? Building materials?
Or is it a sticky mindset that refuses to find the clarity of what it would actually take? Is it too big of a problem that no one knows where to start? Or is it a fear that the “outside the box” ideas have never been done before?
Are politicians so used to saying “no” that they don’t know when to say “yes”?
Jennifer van Gennip, one of the speakers of the day, urged the importance of a shift in mindset. A change in the narrative. That “think outside the box” approach. Instead of the simplicity of a “yes” or a “no”, she encouraged responding with one simple question: What. Would. It. Take.
And sometimes, I feel like we all need to be asked that question, and be held accountable to the answer. Especially my cat.
I watch our own local government. Now don’t get me wrong, as I’ve alluded to in other editorials, I recognize that it’s no easy job to run for council, and it’s impossible to please everyone.
But with that being said, maybe it’s time for some more of that “outside the box” thinking.
Yes, there are liability issues with river-related events in the summertime – what would it take to make them happen for the betterment of our tourism season?
Yes, the lack of public transportation options are limiting to folks moving to the region – what would it take to come up with some ideas and test them out?
Yes, housing is arguably the most complicated and intricate of all the social issues in our neck of the woods? So what would it take to fix it? Or at least chip away at it, even a little bit.
Answers don’t need to be perfect. So often, as humans, our ego and pride get in the way of decision making. We won’t jump in with two feet until we are confident that the work we put our name on will leave us with a legacy our grandkids would be proud of.
But that’s not always the answer. Sometimes, figuring out what it takes means tapping into your inner Miss Frizzle – taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy.
So whether you’re taming a wild cat who lives for a 5:15 wake-up call, or tackling the social concerns of this place we all call home, I urge you to ask yourself the question: what would it take?