For the third time this year, the Town of Aurora Town Hall council chamber was completely filled with members of our community. Perhaps this is due to the fast growing community that we’ve become. Perhaps we have more issues. On November 24, 2014 Highland Gate community gathered at the Town Hall on the subject of Club Link’s closure of the Aurora Highland Gate golf course. The intention was to form a Ratepayers Association (Group). A proactive action at this point. It is obvious that residents of that area fear the worst. And the worst is new developments once the property changes ownership. However, at this point there are many rumors with the only fact being the golf course closure.
You can read more about this matter in THE AURORAN, Highland Gate residents want one voice as ratepayers. Brock Weir summarizes this meeting in a news format quite effectively. And Alison Collins-Mrakas gives a very good academic definition of Ratepayers Groups in her weekly column Politics as Usual found in the printed version of THE AURORAN on page 5.
Definitely there is a pattern for community engagements here in Aurora. Events and community issues do get the highest ranking. I do not have much to say about community events in the Town of Aurora as most of them are very successful. However, when it comes to engagement in politics it is a very volatile market and engagement usually happens only when the needs arise. Some act proactively and some react when it is too late in the process to do anything. In the case of Highland Gate community, proactive actions have taken place so far.
Anything to do with community engagement and leadership is my thing, therefore rather than talk about what is happening in the community, I will be looking at this matter from a different perspective. I will leave the newspapers to do their job to report on the issue. In general, the issue is not difficult to understand in my view. The golf course is closed but it is the fate of the Highland Gate Golf Course land that is worrisome in our community. The sad reality is that the land may potentially lose its green space status. With the purchase of your home any green space beyond your backyard is seldom guaranteed to remain green. Remember that for your next home purchase.
At a time like this you would think the community would be on the same side. But it was obvious that evening that there were different groups in the audience; some ready to form a Ratepayers group, some claiming it was too early, some concerned with control and transparency.
“Of course, chaos can lead to failure and extinction. But so can order. Far more nations, people, and ideas die of atrophy than die from revolution. Both order and chaos are necessary ingredients for long run success – for sustainability.” ― John Ikerd, Small Farms Are Real Farms
When I came out of the meeting, someone said, ‘there will always be division in Aurora’. Ask yourself this; is divisiveness in a community really necessary? We can look at this situation as pessimists or as optimists; I choose the latter. In my opinion, like it or not, I think it is important to have some division in our community. Division exposes us to different perspectives and gives us the opportunity to step outside the perimeter of our box. Division makes us think of other possibilities. In my humble opinion, divisiveness can act as a catalyst that encourages community engagement. Although division can be chaotic at first, most of the time it leads to interesting community dynamics and results. It is always good to have different sides come together in the same room so that we can all hear the same story from different perspectives; it helps us appreciate the way each group thinks. If we would think the same we would always end up with the same results.
Although monotony is not my cup of tea, I am not saying it is beneficial to make the Highland Gate community Ratepayer Association formation a complex process. The process should be simple while allowing people to gain knowledge and awareness of the different matters. That way when complications do arise the Highland Gate community will be in a better position to act effectively to resolve the unexpected.
Bill Hogg moderated the Highland Gate community meeting that night at the Town Hall. I watched with content how well he was able to keep the tense meeting relaxed and how he was able to diffuse unnecessary tension in the crowd numerous times. It takes a good leader to keep chaos in order. The lack of knowledge can also promote chaos and rumors. In that respect, it is important to applaud Frank Klees for standing up that night and sharing his knowledge and expertise as well as mentoring and encouraging the community to follow the process using real facts. A few weeks ago I watched Frank Klees standing in the crowd during the Memorial service at the cenotaph on Sunday November 9th, 2014. As a citizen of Aurora sometimes I wonder what’s next for those who walk away from politics or do not get elected. What was next for Frank Klees? Well Frank’s speech answered my question partially. Leadership does not end with the end of a political career. When you are truly passionate about community and want to act in the best interest of your community you can give back in many, many different ways.
The possibilities are endless, we can be active volunteers, we can share our knowledge and we can help to engage our community even more in the political system. Every bit of expertise from our community will make our community a better place to live; a community engaged in the political system that will lead to better decisions in our town.
Again, if you are truly passionate about community, you can act in the interest of our community in many different ways. Remember that. It is unknown what the future holds for the Highland Gate community, but I hope that Club Link and those affected by the closure will work together towards a common goal.
Anna Lozyk Romeo