Silent No More

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One of the many sustainable tourism initiatives geared towards improving ecological health of the Bruce Peninsula’s environment. Photo courtesy of BPEG.

On the evening of Wednesday October fifth, 2016, community members from across Bruce County met for an event that would later leave a mark in the history of the region. It is reported that nearly 200 citizens agglomerated that evening to discuss a problem that heated the nerve of many—from North Grey to Tobermory, at its northern extremity. The infamous “tourist explosion”, as detailed through the media, is a common concern of which plagues the tourist-driven resort towns of the Bruce Peninsula.

For many (like myself), the debacle grew amidst emerging concern of futuristic altercations to the natural landscape of the Bruce, to which the term sustainability became a focal point in its wake. For others (those who own the well-established businesses and tour companies that drive our tourism industry), the debacle sat at the reality of poor advertising initiatives and insufficient growth for our towns’ newfound popularity. Unquestionably, growing tourism numbers—the epicentre of the debacle—took on a maleficent hue, as group members across the region bore advocacy and educational awareness directing attention to the issue. Before long, the concern grew and history was made on the Bruce Peninsula.

For one young man, this issue took on a deeper meaning. He was committed to finding out more; more than what sits at the surface. It was not long, thereafter, when the concept of sustainability emerged and was looked upon—eager to explore possibilities for the ecological integrity of the Bruce Peninsula to be kept intact while fostering tourism growth. Little did this man know that he and his viewpoints would later be recognized regionally for environmental protection, ecological education and sustainability approaches. This person is me. However, was it all worth it?

There is no denying that the Bruce Peninsula, and its abundance of natural environments, is a part of who I am. The outdoors is valued more than anything known. When I saw the level of environmental destruction occurring in my second home, I felt responsible for taking some level of action: writing to inform more than just a few. So, I wonder to myself again: did people hear? The answer is undoubtedly ‘yes’. Throughout my time advocating for a greener Bruce, I have met many residents and heard their sides to this very story, and I have grown to contextualize the issue with a broader lense because of it.

Without a doubt, the citizens of Bruce County deserve greatest recognition. Their dedication and commitment has built the community in ways indescribable. The natural environment of the Bruce is diverse and, indeed, one-of-a-kind— from provincially significant and aged wetlands and forests, to nearly 200 kilometres of shoreline dune habitat, and to the innumerable other sacred land-forms that perform ecological miracles in this little undisturbed nook of central-western Ontario—and for this, it is ever so important that we continue to recognize and cherish its significance.

Joseph Gentile – Editor and freelancer of environmental affairs,