NIMBY, of course

This is not a NIMBY (‘Not in my back yard!’) issue, says one of the opponents of proposed gravel and sand pits in the Tawatinaw Valley.

Of course it is. On the other hand, it is representative of something universal: i.e. – the conflict between those who favour development and those who oppose it.

There are always good arguments for both positions on one of these pro and con development scenarios. Development is always disruptive and even destructive to one degree or another. And outright opposition to development is always contrary to the benefits of economic development, to one degree or another.

Gravel and sand – as in the Tawatinaw scenario – are obviously needed and have to come from somewhere. Apparently a private landowner (or maybe more than one) wants to see it happen and make some money off it. What’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong with it is other residents of the area are appalled by the notion. They have recruited the environmental group Keepers of the Athabasca to their cause. The resulting news release makes it sound akin to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. It’s actually pretty small potatoes, but obviously not to somebody who has to live next door to it.

In this case, sand and gravel can probably be found someplace that doesn’t have neighbours. It would be just as ‘destructive,’ but less likely to stir up opposition.

However, even non-NIMBY development is getting complicated these days, with First Nations permission being needed. Nobody knows where that is headed – but all the signs suggest it’s going to get harder, not easier, to get anything done on the landscape.

Again, there are solid, defensible reasons for this, but the proponents are perhaps not taking into account the negative impact on the economy, along with higher costs. A zero-growth, zero-environmental impact economy/society is the implied objective here, and how it could ever work is not very clearly articulated. Or believable.

The Tawatinaw issue is very much ‘not in my back yard,’ but as noted, it has broader significance because conflicts like it are happening all over the place.

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