We are fast approaching the Peterborough municipal election, which occurs on October 22. An election is not just a changing of the guard in leadership. It is also an ideal time to start a conversation about the kind of city, and the kind of future, we want to build. There are many challenges facing this city right now, many ideas about directions the city could go, and many opportunities to build towards those futures.
Recently, we have been speaking to local community organizers, thought-leaders, advocates, activists, and citizens about their visions for the Future of Peterborough. We will be publishing these interviews over the next weeks and months, and encouraging you, our readers and the citizens of Peterborough, to have your say.
Tegan Moss is the executive director of B!KE, a member-based cycling education and support organization. A passionate community organizer, Tegan brings strong leadership, clear vision, and a dedication to social justice within the community. Tegan has been highly successful in developing sustainable programming, and creating positive and accessible spaces in Peterborough.
What do you believe are the most important issues facing Peterborough right now?
Three issues stand out for me as the most important. Firstly, land-use planning. Green field development is cheap for developers, but places a major tax burden on our city for the servicing of sewers, roads, and other infrastructure. Adopting an approach to land-use planning that prioritizes urban densification would support-long term development of a city that is healthy and more economically sustainable. Secondly, there is the directly related issue of building liveable communities. While the single-family home on a quiet suburban street does have a certain appeal, it fails to serve our aging population in staying active and engaged in our community. When we build our infrastructure and our homes, the approach ought to favour those people with the least mobility and the least access to resources. This can ensure that people without mobility and people in poverty can participate fully and actively in our society. Finally, climate change is an issue we need to take seriously. It’s challenging to prepare for the unknown and sometimes impossible to imagine what our future may look like. However we must act with urgency to address the issue of climate change. From the everyday actions of getting out of your car or planting a garden, to the systemic changes like implementing green energy and green building standards, now is the appropriate time to act. These three issues are deeply interrelated and Peterborough is small enough to enact solutions at a city-wide level.
What are you seeing in the community you’d like to see more of?
It’s very exciting for me personally and professionally to see the city place a greater focus on pedestrian space and bicycle infrastructure downtown. I look forward to seeing this approach to infrastructure grow to other parts of the city. Making our schools and social services well suited to people walking and biking would be a great way to indicate that this is how we believe people ought to travel. Another thing I am continually delighted by are the grassroots efforts to make big changes. Examples include projects like the Peterborough Tool Library, Nourish community gardens, and One City, each seeking out ways that our community can be more inclusive and provide people with the resources they need to participate and grow as individuals and community members.
What is your ideal vision for the future of Peterborough?
I envision a future in which Peterborough has committed to become the greenest city in Canada. I dream of a city where we grow vegetables instead of grass, where more trips are made by bike than by car, and where green field development is no longer an option. I vision a city with strong progressive leadership that says “Yes!” to the simple environmental solutions available to us as a community. It is possible for Peterborough to become an environmental leader in Canada, and I envision a future in which we are.
What do you believe we need to do to get there?
The grassroots is such a rich and exciting part of the community that I say I would like to see more, but the grassroots alone cannot implement the type of change I vision for our future. We need to elect leaders who are progressive and steadfast in their commitment to moving the needle on major issues. We need city staff and council to commit to urban densification, climate change mitigation, and social justice. Leaders like me are doing what we can to ensure that Peterborough is ecologically and economically sustainable, but we cannot do it alone. We need the resources of our entire city committed to these values in order to make real change.
How could the people of Peterborough help to accomplish this?
The danger in calling on individuals to make change is that we each have only so much power. It’s much easier to tell people to ride their bikes than it is to demand bike lanes on Charlotte Street. The people of Peterborough can help to accomplish my vision in two key ways. First, vote into municipal office people who speak directly in their commitment to the environment. Second, make personal choices that reflect your own commitment to the environment. Third, push your city council for what you believe in; don’t stop pushing.
To learn more and connect with B!KE, visit: communitybikeshop.org
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