Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XII

Steve Bull (
3 min readMay 14, 2021
Teotihuacan, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Growth Greenwashing: A Comforting Narrative

My comment on an article regarding the cessation of a provincial programme for municipalities in British Columbia meant to support and fund climate change initiatives.

Not sure what the situation is like in BC surrounding provincial mandates and municipalities, but I would judge a programme that is supposedly to support climate change initiatives ​in Ontario municipalities to be primarily about political theatre, certainly not about addressing any type of environmental dilemma. I live in a municipality on the edge of the Greater Toronto Area that has been chasing perpetual growth for many, many years. In fact, it uses this growth to try and attract more growth, marketing itself as one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario and thus the place to live and work.

This growth comes at a steep cost, if you ask me. That being the expansion of suburban residences over prime agricultural land and sensitive ecological habitat being on the glacial till known as the Oak Ridges Moraine. They have shifted their plot somewhat in arguing that they are concentrating on densification of the town proper (they just approved a large apartment/condo complex in the middle of town that far exceeds previous ‘bylaws’ regarding height restrictions — you know, a one-off exception), yet the construction of residential communities continues unabated in areas outside this supposed new approach as farmland continues to be paved over; adding to the looming crisis Ontario will face as it adds more and more people yet already imports more than 80% of its food.

As my once ‘small’ town (about 18,000 when we moved here in 1995) approaches 50,000 and supposedly will ‘max’ out at around 80,000, I have to wonder how the town’s motto (Country Close to the City) connects to the reality on the ground. I’ve been suggesting for a number of years the town should abandon this farcical slogan and change it to what is actually happening: Suburbia Close to More Suburbia.

When pushed about this ongoing pursuit of growth, our municipal politicians invariably skirt responsibility stating they are simply following the diktats of the provincial government; their task being to implement provincial mandates in a manner that considers local ‘needs’, particularly the environmental sensitivity of the area (leading me to conclude these municipal ‘representatives’ are really little more than local, middle managers doing as instructed from the more distant ‘representatives’ of the province — I put ‘representative’ in quotes as one has to wonder who exactly the politicians ‘represent’ in their policies/decision-making; I tend to believe it is those at the top of our power structures, not the ‘average’ citizen).

I have to laugh at the bombastic rhetoric. They cheerlead ‘sustainable’ development and growing with the environment in mind without flinching at the hypocrisy in their oxymoronic statements at all. They talk about protecting the environment while undermining it with expansion. They speak of responsibility to future generations while using up all the finite resources that support life. They expand and expand and expand with no understanding of how exponential growth quickly overwhelms systems and that overshoot of the environmental carrying capacity of a region always ends in collapse.

The foxes truly are in charge of the henhouse. But they have created a comforting narrative so that the chickens can avoid the cognitive-dissonance that comes from realising it’s all just a fairy tale. Ontario, a place to ‘grow’.

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Steve Bull (

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...