Fear of Change on Prince Edward Island.

Dec 18

It’s said the only constant in the universe is change, but for some people in my home province of Prince Edward Island, change is to be resisted.

Some Islanders were against this.

Some Islanders were against this…

In recent years I’ve observed how a group of Islanders – usually middle-aged and senior citizens – were against a series of changes which ultimately improved life on the Island.

During the 1990s these folks were against the construction of the Confederation Bridge in the 1990s, fearful it would attract undesirables who would hurt the peaceful Island way of life (like drug dealers and huge retail stores) or disrupt the Northumberland Strait fishery.

These folks never clued in that drug dealers have always been on the Island and almost always homegrown, nor could they grasp the fact that undesirables were never deterred by taking a ferry or flying to the Island.

After the Confederation Bridge was constructed, the quality of life on the Island significantly improved while having almost no adverse effect upon the fishery.

Several years later, the same critics of “The Link” were against the implementation of a city bus service in Charlottetown. It’ll never work, they howled. The buses are too big for our narrow city streets. Few people will actually ride them. They’ll be a huge waste of money.

And this...

And this…

A decade later, the bus service is successful, making life easier for those without vehicles (including seniors, students and the poor) to commute around the city. Indeed, many of those who were against the service use it regularly.

When the province announced several years later its plans to turn several of Charlottetown’s busiest intersections into roundabouts to ease traffic congestion, the usual gang of idiots criticized the plan. Roundabouts are too confusing, they bellowed, though how driving in a circle until you reach your exit can cause confusion eludes those blessed with common sense.

Their complaints grew so loud, the businesses near where the first roundabout was being constructed grew nervous about losing customers. When it opened, a number of people gathered in the nearby Tim Horton’s parking lot to watch the mass accidents and traffic snarls they were sure would ensue. To their dismay, the roundabout worked as smoothly as intended. The others have since been constructed without complaint, with most people agreeing they were a great idea.

And this...

And this…

The construction of a bypass highway through a hilly, winding stretch of the TransCanada highway met with the same howls of protest from the same people.

Dubbed “Plan B” by the provincial government, the highway construction plan attracted protesters who claimed it would destroy “old growth forest” and farmland. Their definition of “old growth forest” were trees which allegedly were 100 years ago. Those who owned that stretch of land containing forest and farmland sold it willingly to the government, having no further use of that land.

If this road were being built toward another golf course which dot this island, nary a protest would’ve been raised. It’s interesting how folks who live on an Island spider-webbed by roads and highways got up in arms over an improvement to a stretch of the Transcanada, which would improve tourist traffic and make it easier for truckers, whom this Island relies upon for bringing in the bulk of its goods.

And also this.

And also this.

Eventually the road was built, proved to be a success and the protesters melted away again, undoubtedly to plot their next protest to another planned change which would improve Island life.

It’s not unusual for folks to fear or even protest change, but here on PEI it’s as though they fear anything which will make lives easier and better will destroy the fabric of life. If their ancestors shared their stubborn resistance to change, this Island wouldn’t have settled in the first place.

Change can be frightening, and it’s understanding why some ageing folks fear losing part of their way of life or losing part of their culture. But here on PEI, those resistant to change are actually allowing their unfounded fears to cloud their better judgement.

Thankfully, they’re not in any positions of power, or else this Island would be stuck in another age, slowly dying as the rest of the world passes it by.

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