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The Ecosphere

The Biodome in Montreal

Bragg Creek is relatively unspoilt. We have no industry, homes are scattered and hidden throughout the forest and there is very little commercial development. By concentrating economic development in limited areas and ensuring that the related activities and facilities have no net impact on the environment we could generate wealth that would help pay for the water treatment, waste disposal and energy efficient heating and transportation that would sustain the community. In place of hundreds of homes where waste would be hard to treat, we could have a few centres where visitors could enjoy the natural habitat and obtain life enhancing experiences. Innovative use of new technologies would produce potable water from grey water. Waste would be recycled and reused. All of the good stuff that environmentalists have been promoting for years would be exploited.

Now that I've climbed the tree, I'm going to head out on a limb with a proposal that is at best flaky, at worst a nightmare. We need an Ecosphere - a domed pleasure centre where the air is enriched with oxygen and humidity. Yoga instruction would be offered alongside health spas. Mineral enriched hot pools and massage parlours could soothe muscles strained during outdoor adventure experiences offered by guides and outfitters. It would be a tourism attraction for the body and soul built around a natural world of plants and animals. Visitors would experience the complexity and fragility of nature and discover their role in ensuring its survival. Transport around the grounds and out into the wilderness would use alternative energy. Food services would offer hydroponically grown local produce. Arts, culture and learning centres could thrive. We'd offer the promise of health and well-being through recreation and discovery. People would come to find pleasure or personal fulfillment.

These kinds of facilities exist now. Montreal's Biodome recreates a natural world of plants and animals as similar as possible to those found in their natural environments. Disney's Epcot Centre is a showcase for new technologies with the promise of a better future through science and engineering. Health spas are common and people travel far and wide in search of rejeuvenation, refuge and recreation. Maybe it seems absurd, but we could create a little piece of paradise here in Bragg Creek. The nightmare scenario would turn this vision for the preservation of a natural ecosystem into the paving of paradise.

Kubla Khan
Or a vision in a dream. A fragment

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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