What is the plan?

It has been nearly a year that this council has been in office in South Dundas and one has to wonder, what is the plan?

While neighbouring municipalities like Edwardsburgh-Cardinal are announcing new distribution centers in their industrial parks, South Dundas has shuttered their Economic Development position. South Stormont announced just last week that all of their vacant industrial buildings are now full. North Dundas has attracted expansion in their municipality, North Stormont has recently finished as the host of the International Plowing Match and all of the local spin-offs that benefit that municipality. Carleton University just announced that they are opening a satellite campus to open in Cornwall. All of these municipalities within the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry have plans, and are implementing them. South Dundas?

What is needed for the community to grow, and be successful, is a plan. A plan to work and attract businesses to located here in South Dundas. Tourist events like bass tournaments are fine if there is an economic benefit to local businesses, but is that where council’s focus should be? Does that kind of development bring permanent jobs? No, it does not.

Centering your community around the tourism industry alone is not a good plan for growth. A diversified plan that grows industrial, commercial and tourism is needed in this community. That starts with hiring a new Economic Development Officer. One who’s sole job is to be the sales person selling the benefits of locating their business here in South Dundas. They should not be doing administrative work for the waterfront committees, nor should they be assisting with recreation. The sole job of the Economic Development Officer is to bring business here.

Economic Development is needed in South Dundas. As the current population ages, the municipality has to attract business to locate here, to give residents a reason to move here. If not, the tax-base shrinks and the tax-burden on the homeowner increases considerably. Residents with fixed incomes should not have to sell their homes because they can no longer afford the property tax bill.

A new Economic Development Officer can come up with a plan to move forward very easily. Just look at what our neighbours are doing, and do that. Edwardsburgh-Cardinal came up with a 10-point economic development plan in 2012. Three years later nine out of 10 of the points are implemented and they just sold three-quarters of their Johnstown Industrial Park to Giant Tiger for a new distribution center.

South Dundas has the available land, the commercial and industrial vacancies, and the room to attract new residents once the jobs arrive. All that is needed is a plan, and the will of council to move South Dundas forward. Our economic development cannot be to sit on the sidelines and let everyone else pass us by.

Published in the October 14, 2015 edition of The Morrisburg Leader.