by Paul Masterson

In a few weeks time, across Ontario, our municipal governments will be experiencing a democratic process called elections. In this exercise, the citizens of those communities (cities, towns and townships) will be choosing, by ballot, fellow citizens who have committed themselves to govern their municipality in the best interests of all citizens for the next three years. This is democracy at work.

Democracy is based on the “common good” in which the individual surrenders certain freedoms for the good of the community: at the same time, the community protects that individual’s freedoms. We know that democracy is based on majority rule; however, the rule is conditioned on the fair treatment of minorities.

Within the township of Tiny there has evolved, among it citizenry, a grouping concept based on the geographic proximity of their property to the shoreline or beachfront area. Three in number, the groups are designated as inlanders, beach front owners and backlot owners.

How did this division come about? Maybe this scenario answers the ‘how?’ At some time in the past, the Provincial government began to encourage settlement and development by selling off property to private ownership. These citizens then used their land to develop forest product operations, farms and speculative future uses. With the approval of governments over the intervening years, some of these landowners began to sell portions of their holdings, especially along the shoreline, to others who built service establishments and cottages on beach lots and later on lots back and adjacent to the beach front lots.

Unfortunately, from this ‘categorizing’ has come a negative perception that has prompted a discord fed on and promoted by individuals and small special interest group(s) with their own agenda.

What are these concepts? For some, there is the perception that beach-front citizens are wealthy individuals, self-serving, and elitist somewhat disdainful of the ‘have-nots back there’ and jealous of their privacy. Another concept is that citizens of the ‘inland’ sites are the solid, true and ‘rightful’ full-time residents of Tiny, with an innate dislike of “cottagers” – wanting their commerce but not their presence. The backlot owners are perceived as an ambiguous group of citizenry from a multi-culture background, tolerated by the other two groups, but “not one of us.”

But how does this perceived disparity impact on the socioeconomic relations of all the citizens of Tiny? If tolerated, it would indeed be a formula for disunity and strife. But fortunately, the vast majority of Tiny’s people are from wiser stock. They came here in whatever era, because Tiny was a place of genuine uniqueness. They didn’t set roots in Tiny to become the pawns of zealous development interests whether private or governmental.

They were attracted by its tranquillity, its bays, lakes, beaches, farms, forests, wilderness and country roads. They came ready to work, share and enjoy with others this blessed land devoid of the hurlyburly tensions of heavily populated cities and larger towns. They came and paid their way because the economics were right, especially for those in the retirement and modest income status.

This is what Tiny is today and this is what Tiny will be tomorrow if we unite to reject those that would pit neighbour against neighbour, inlanders against cottager, backlot owners against beach front residents. Let’s seek out those important issues that unite our common interests and concerns. Put aside our differences and promote goodwill towards each other that is in the hearts of all of us. As a start, let’s put into our Tiny government individuals who will best serve these hopes and aspirations, people who will act as responsible leaders and govern for the common good of all its citizens.

Paul and his wife, Maureen, have been seasonal residents at Thunder Beach for 29 years. Paul said “We are backloters and with our large family have thoroughly enjoyed our residence in Tiny and the friendships we have made with our permanent and seasonal neighbours.