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Community Vision Café Results: South Dundas residents are on same page

Dillon Consulting Limited, on behalf of the township of South Dundas, held four Community Vision Cafés last week on March 21st and 22nd.

According to Economic Development Officer Nicole Sullivan, approximately 70 people in total attended one or more of the four cafés. Both the Morrisburg and Iroquois meetings each saw upwards of 20 residents in attendance, while the Dixon’s Corners and Williamsburg locations saw, on average, about 10 residents.

Recreation and economic development seemed to be the two most common concerns for residents who attended the cafés.

As for the actual cafés, Mayor Steven Byvelds opened each of the café consultations with a welcome message and invitation to participate fully. “This is your meeting,” he said, “not council’s meeting. We’re looking for your ideas.”

“Don’t be afraid to dream somewhat,” he added.

The cafés were led by Rory Baksh and Sari Liem of Dillon Consulting Limited.

Baksh began each meeting with the same clear message: “the café gives citizens an opportunity to chart their own future. It’s important because who knows this community better than you? You should be the ones who have a voice in shaping where this community goes.”

And, as one resident at the Dixon’s Corners café pointed out, “as a result of the amalgamation, there’s a lot of different cultures trying to fit together.”

Baksh suggested that ideas be “achievable, practical and economically realistic (and) support long-term continuous improvement.” In addition, ideas “should reflect your passion and your voice.”

“The plan that will come out of this process will very much be the work of the citizens.”

Liem followed Baksh’s opening statement, saying, “there’s no wrong answer. Be creative, but be realistic. Discuss rather than debate and, think positively.”

“As community members,” she added, “you have the strongest voice.”

Following the opening remarks, the interactive portion of the meeting got underway. 

The first exercise was recognizing and listing the assets and strengths that South Dundas already possesses. The township’s strengths were divided into seven categories: human; social capital; cultural; natural; economic and financial; built; and political.

Baksh pointed out that “we’re focussing on what assets are here. We have to understand what we value so we can plan for the future. A community is shaped by the assets and things that we care about.”

Liem added, “think of these assets as opportunities we can leverage on.”

Residents named the river, the open green space, the rich history of the area and the wealth of volunteers as just some of the assets found in South Dundas. The lists were, in fact, lengthy.

Following the compilation of current assets, residents were asked to complete an exercise called the Wishing Well. Participants were encouraged to “take one step into the future” and make some wishes for South Dundas. The guidelines for doing so were clear: wishes should be smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Some of the more common wishes arising from the Dixon’s Corners group included changes to recreational facilities, beautification projects, additional industry, and changes to educational opportunities within South Dundas.

One participant was clear about not wanting industrial wind turbines. Another suggested that Williamsburg get a facelift, while another dreamed of a monorail connecting South Dundas to places like Ottawa, Cornwall and Brockville.

The Wishing Well exercise brought forth many of the same ‘wishes’ in each of the café venues. The Morrisburg café added things like “create a heritage preservation society” in addition to having more sidewalks and trails.

Following the Wishing Well task, residents were invited to go farther into the future and form a Vision Statement for where South Dundas should be in 10 years.

According to Baksh, “a good vision is understandable, inspirational, distinctive, and ambitious.” He specifically pointed out that “it shouldn’t be something cookie-cutter from somewhere else.”

After brainstorming in small groups, each group presented their vision statement for South Dundas to the whole group.

One group, using a metaphor, pointed out that “you have to have a foundation for a house before you start building a house” and talked about small steps that lead toward grander dreams down the road.

Visions were similar in that they focused on providing “safe, healthy and supportive living” in South Dundas. 

There was emphasis on preserving what’s here in terms of history, environment, and infrastructure.

A woman attending the Dixon’s Corners café said, “ I’d like to see services stay in the community. If we want people to stay in our community, we need to encourage local businesses and services so people stay within South Dundas instead of driving outside.”

Residents at the Iroquois Civic Centre café voiced the need to preserve the golf course.

In addition to protecting current services within South Dundas, there was general agreement that the township needs to grow by welcoming more businesses, small and large, as well as more tourists.

Following the Vision Statement presentations, Baksh and Liem, at each café, made a list of community priorities or key points based on that meeting’s vision statements. 

The key points that arose during the Morrisburg café consultation were: develop business along Highway 401; waterfront park; youth centre; seniors support centre; more industry to grow; public washrooms downtown; sidewalks; hiking/walking/biking path along Lakeshore Drive; and, more things for teens.

Before leaving, café attendees were given the opportunity to “vote” for the wishes/ideas that they felt were most important. In addition, they were invited to sign-up for future action plan groups based on some of the key points.

Baksh concluded each café consultation by ensuring attendees were aware of the process going forward. In April, there will be a status report. 

At the end of April or early in May, he revealed that there will be another round of workshops. These workshops will focus on action plans centered around specific themes. 

The final draft of the plan will be available in June. 

In addition to the ideas provided by South Dundas residents, Baksh said that some of the photos submitted online would also be used in the final draft of the plan document.

The draft report will be posted online and Baksh enouraged all in attendance as well as each South Dundas resident to “read it over, provide comments. We certainly encourage that.”


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Agri Show is a family affair

The Dundas Seed, Forage & Agricultural Show was held on March 9th at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners. Exhibitors and visitors filled the hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Francis Henderson of Terrdale Farms won this year’s top spot, the Premier Exhibitor. His daughter, Tracy Porteous, accepted the award on his behalf. Kelly Fawcett-Mathers, a representative for  TD Canada Trust, sponsor of the award, presented the award to Porteous. The second award, Reserve Premier Exhibitor, and the third award, Premier Forage Exhibitor, both went to Ian and Tracy Porteous of Ayrporte Farm. 


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Broken Second relocation plan

At the March 6th South Dundas council meeting, Don Lewis, Planning and Enforcement Manager, presented council with SAI Engineering’s three options for the relocation of the Broken Second Drain in Iroquois. 

Lewis recommended council choose option two whereby the west section of the drain would be relocated along the south side of County Road 2, costing approximately $20,800.

Mayor Steven  Byvelds said, “I disagree with your report. I would go with option three. It would save a lot of work, save a lot of construction, and save a lot of maintenance down the road.”

In the end, after some deliberation, council chose not to follow Lewis’s recommendation, but instead went with the least expensive option whereby the ditch will be relocated perpendicular  to County Road 2. The cost estimate for this option is $1,600.


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South Dundas honours commitment to health

During budget deliberations, South Dundas council learned that this year, 2012, marks the completion of a pledge commitment to the Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH).

The final pledge installment of $70,000 will be paid to WDMH this year, thus ending 10 years of payments. With this year’s payment, South Dundas will have fulfilled its pledge of $700,000.

Treasurer Shannon Geraghty confirmed that 2012 is also the final year of a four year agreement with three doctors who have been practicing in South Dundas.

“The Township offered an incentive to new doctors coming to South Dundas in the form of $10,000 per year for four years with a return of service agreement between the doctor and the township.”

“Council reviews the need for the program on an annual basis as part of budget discussions,” he added.


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Feeding the people: Lutheran Parish gives to food bank

On March 15th, Pastor Norine Gullons along with a few congregants met with Terry Triskle, vice-chair of the Dundas County Food Bank board, and Donna Quesnel, administrator for the food  bank. They were celebrating the recent $2,000 Synod Antipoverty Grant received by the food bank from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Eastern Synod as part of their Compassionate Justice initiative. The grant was issued to the food bank for their Newborn Necessities project for which the objective is “to meet the needs of those with young children coming to the food bank for emergency assistance by providing them with formula, baby food, and diapers.” According to Quesnel,  the Synod Antipoverty Grants received over the past five years have become pivotal to meeting babies’ needs locally.” Last year, in addition to the grant, the South Dundas Lutheran Fundraising concert raised approximately $450 for the food bank.

The Dundas County Food Bank is currently in need of the following: canned fruit and vegetables, canned pasta and pasta sauce, cereals and peanut butter, brown beans and kidney beans, canned tomatoes, Kraft Dinner, fruit cups, pudding cups, and bars of soap. Also needed: empty baby food jars, small jars, and juice bottles.


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New members for Morrisburg & District Lions

The Morrisburg & District Lions Club recently inducted two members, a husband and wife team, at a general meeting of the club. Pictured above, l-r, are Lion Mae Pederson (sponsor for both new members), new Lion Jim Martin, new Lion Viviane Martin and Morrisburg & District Lions Club president Bob Bechard.



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Golden Gears executive takes office

At the February 29 meeting of the Golden Gears Car Club, an election was held to install the officers and directors of the newly revived car lovers organization. Deputy mayor of South Dundas, Jim Locke, was on hand to swear in the duly elected board and to outline for all club members the duties associated with each position. From the left are Jim Locke, Brian Erratt, 1st vice president, Henry Swank, president, Jim Millard, secretary, Ken Hasson, treasurer, Wayne Barkley, past president, Stephane Aube, director, Jeff Beaupre, membership chairman and Garry Tracey, director. Absent from the photo is Gaby Swank, public relations and communications chair person. The next general Meeting of the Golden Gears is Thursday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Iroquois Legion. New members are very welcome.


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CWL celebrates St. Patrick’s Day

Shamrocks and leprechauns and plenty of wearin’ o’ the green were evident at the annual St. Patrick’s Day tea and bazaar organized by the St. Mary’s and St. Cecilia’s Catholic Women’s League. 

The popular event was held at the Morrisburg Legion on Saturday, March 17, with close to 40 volunteers coming out to help.

Perfect spring weather brought many people out to enjoy shopping  as well as a home made lunch.

“We had plenty of baked goods for sale,” said CWL president Trudi McGinn, “as well as jams, jellies, candies and crafts for people to enjoy. Our plants table was popular with all this spring weather. We also offered many door prizes for visitors.”

The tea and bazaar, which has been around for well over 30 years, is a major fund raiser for the two parishes. 

“The money we bring in goes to lots of different things,” McGinn explained. 

“We support three higher education bursaries for local students. We also supply flowers to both our churches. Area charities like the Christmas Exchange are assisted by the CWL. The funds also help to support a family in India.”

Also on hand for the bazaar were members of the Knights of Columbus, who were offering raffle tickets on new vehicles in order to raise funds for the Arthritis Society.

Last year over 300 people came out to the bazaar, and organizers were hoping for a good crowd in 2012.


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Stewart trust helps Dundas agencies

Three local Dundas Country agencies, Linking Hands, the J.W. MacIntosh Seniors Support Centre and the Dundas County Food Bank were all recipients of 2012 grants from the John Stewart Estate Memorial Trust Fund. The money is investment income derived from the 1991 sale of the John Stewart Home in Cornwall. Representative Adele Eyman said the board looked at the “sustainability of each organization, as well as the numbers of people it served” in determining recipients. These Dundas groups “are all good neighbours in their communities,” she added, presenting the checks on Saturday, March 10, at the Seniors Support Centre in Williamsburg. Linking Hands will use its $400 to continue to develop its Lunch and Learn program through the House of Lazarus. The Dundas County Food Bank will use the grant of $1,166 to help “keep stocking our shelves with healthy food,” said Food Bank administrator Donna Quesnel. Janet Levere, executive director of the J.W. MacIntosh Senior Support Centre hopes to use the $400 grant towards subsidizing vital transportation costs. Pictured (l-r) are Nancy Christie of the House of Lazarus, Janet Levere, Adele Eyman, Alvin Runnalls, chair of the Dundas County Food Bank and Donna Quesnel. 


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Helping Hands seniors group embracing life

Helping Hands of Brinston, a seniors group, began meeting in 1974 at the old hall in Brinston. In 2012, almost 40 years later, the group continues to gather, but now meet at Matilda Hall and refer to themselves as the Helping Hands of Matilda.

According to group President Lorne Strader, Helping Hands meets the first Wednesday of every month at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners.

He explained that the original group lobbied for the building of Matilda Hall and raised $20,000 for the cost. The “new” hall opened in 1978, and the group moved in with the agreement that they use the hall one day per month, rent-free.

Strader, a life-long resident of Brinston, often organizes the meeting’s entertainment. Whether the entertainment falls into the category of informative speaker or lively musical performance, Strader takes his task seriously.

On December 6, 2012, for example, the Helping Hands seniors enjoyed the comedic jokes and festive singing of the local OPP Auxiliary’s Coppertones.

At the last meeting on March 7th, the group was treated with a performance by two guitar-playing songsters, Bill Horner and Ralph Jollotta. Strader is hoping to have the fire marshal visit for the next meeting on April 4th. 

Seniors from all over the area, in and outside of South Dundas, meet to chat, share information, catch up on news, have a little lunch, and enjoy some entertainment. 

The 12 o’clock luncheon is a pot luck deal which, according to Strader, “turns out good every time.” Each attendee brings something for the feast and Corrie Byker of Iroquois makes the soup.

In addition to bringing an item for the luncheon, each member drops $2 into a basket along with their name. After the feast, two names are drawn and those two receive their money back.

Things aren’t just all fun and games, however. Members also take care of group “business” at the beginning of the meeting, including the production of cards for local seniors who are ill and unable to attend the gathering.

The business portion of the meeting generally begins around 11:15 a.m. with the singing of Oh Canada. Jean VanGilt of Chesterville performs the duties of secretary.

Following the national anthem, Treasurer Doris Stewart of Iroquois, provides a financial report.

Birthdays, anniversaries, “get well cards” come next, followed by a period of devotion with scripture and prayer.

With the saying of grace before lunch, the business portion of the meeting comes to an end.

At the March 7th meeting, Strader talked about his great aunt Nelda Madeline (Irvine) Willis who passed on January 26th at the age of 103 years old. 

He pointed out that Willis’ mother, Ida Gilson was a sister to his grandfather, Charles Gilson, a blacksmith in Brintson for over 70 years.

Strader’s admiration for his aunt’s zest for life came through loud and clear. Willis, while in her 70s, traveled the world extensively visiting places like  China, Bali, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Thailand, and more.

In a memoriam honouring Willis, she was quoted saying that “people do have many  highs and lows in their lives. I do not believe I ever took the time to consider if any of the projects would be in a high or low category. I always seemed to be catapulted into the next round. There was sure to be someone or something waiting in the wings.”

Strader’s aunt’s philosophy of life exemplifies what Helping Hands seems to be all about: embracing life in its senior years by enjoying each day,  each moment, each experience, and each person who enters, as it comes.

“For age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress, and as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Helping Hands of Matilda has 62 paid members. Membership costs just $5 per year. Membership, however, is not a prerequisite for attending meetings. Anyone over the age of 50 is welcome to attend, said Strader, “bring something to eat, put it on the table and you can eat with us.”