Heading into Christmas 1971, the Town of Brome Lake was at the end of its first year. Yet to come: Sewage, water, the Community Center and Medical Clinic, a well-defined walking and cycling path, and, at long last, a bridge over Trestle Cove. No one then could know how much their world was going to change over the next 50 years. If people from that era were transported by time machine to the present day, they would certainly recognize Knowlton and the surrounding villages and countryside, but there would be many changes. For one thing, they would wonder why people are staring at what looks like miniature television screens in their hands.
What will the next 50 years bring? We can’t even guess what technical marvels will change lives and transform civic life, as the Internet has. Most changes we might like to see are in the short term: the next ten years or so. Will the utility poles finally be removed from Knowlton streets? Will someone find a way to stop speeding trucks barreling along dirt roads in Iron Hill? And is there a way to cut down on truck traffic on Lakeside?
There are plans to restore the Mill Pond and dam, but will it still be a dream years from now? It would be nice to have a boardwalk and nature preserve in the heart of town.
Ecology and the environment will be all-important. We can’t just leave those issues to Ottawa and Quebec City alone. Each of us has a unique carbon footprint. Lowering it is both an individual and community effort. There could be a revolution in transportation. Artificial Intelligence could produce self-driving electric taxis that could take people on local errands or connections to public transit. There is a rail line in town. Fifty years ago, one could take the train from Montreal to Foster and even Knowlton. The infrastructure is still there.
We are lucky that we live in Quebec, with the lowest electricity costs in North America. Towns could make an example by switching to electric vehicles. Soon. More electric charging stations will encourage the further electrification of transit. There are many dreamy things that would make this area more self-reliant: solar power on roofs; windmills in rural areas along with small-scale hydro on creeks and streams; solar powered greenhouses to produce local food for local people. And the relaxation of rules against keeping chickens and other small animals.
When someone reads this 50 years from now, will they think we have made a difference?