John Ross offering to pay for campground expansion

MORRISBURG – John Ross has a vision for the Iroquois Municipal Campground, and he is disappointed and frustrated that South Dundas council does not seem to share that same vision.

Ross is so committed to that vision that he is willing to pay for the design and construction of the campground expansion if council approves the re-location of a portion of the pathway.

He told The Leader about his informal offer during a recent interview.

He estimates the value of his offer to expand the campground at between $200,000 and $300,000.

“The re-location of that pathway is critical to the future of the campground,” said Ross.

Last week council decided against moving a portion of the Iroquois waterfront pathway, because that move according to a staff report by South Dundas director of transportation Jeff Hyndman stated that the rerouting of the path would have added an additional $110,000 to the project, that South Dundas would have to fund.

Without that $110,000 addition, the pathway rehabilitation project is almost fully funded by a Trillium Grant.

Ross contends that he could have the necessary re-location done at a lower cost and adds that he is willing to pay for that as well.

During the June 22nd meeting, council members commented that they were not willing to spend that money without having a proper expansion plan in place for the campground.

“I would not have asked for the path deviation unless I had already prepared a plan which clearly indicated the need for more land for the campground,” said Ross.

“If there had been a meeting where the issue of cost was raised concerning the path deviation, I would have gladly funded it for the long-term benefit of the campground,” said Ross.

“They have a nice new building coming to fruition that can handle 100 campsites,” said Ross adding that he sees this as the perfect opportunity not only to improve the pathway system but as an opportunity to make way for an expansion of the municipal campground by 30 sites.

Ross, who is already footing the bill for a large portion of the new campground and airport building, which is nearing completion, said: “I told the council from the beginning that this building is only the start. That campground needs to be brought to a whole new standard of excellence.”

Asked why he is willing to fund this project Ross explained that the campground is where he stayed when he first came to Iroquois and he fell in love with the community. Ross was planning to relocate his family to start his business and was looking at cities like Kingston, but he loved this community so much he decided that this was where he wanted to be. “So this is literally where Ross Video started,” he said.

“All of Iroquois’ recreational facilities were the vision of volunteers,” said Ross, adding that he is here as a volunteer wanting to improve on recreation. “Once again, council is not sharing that vision.”

“Sometimes it seems to me it’s the role of volunteers to dream of a better future and how to get there, and it’s the role of council to ensure it doesn’t happen,” said Ross. “I hope they change their minds.”

The Leader reached out to South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds for comment and received the following: “At this time, council has decided to wait till next year before doing any further work or planning for the Campground.”

“We have a new building which is not done yet and we would like to get through a season to see how it works out. We are also still in the COVID-19 pandemic and with the restrictions that need to be followed, it will not be a ‘normal’ season and as of now, there is no end in sight,” said Byvelds.

“It may affect campground operations for years to come and doing any planning at this time may prove fruitless. We have new staff on board this year and this will give them an opportunity to see how it goes. They will then be able to provide valuable input when we discuss the path forward for the campground early next year.”

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