Editorial – Should we still think small?

At a recent South Dundas council meeting, the discussion about an infrastructure funding application ended up being a debate about which washroom upgrade the municipality should apply for. For a fund where hundreds of thousands of dollars or more could be approved, municipal staff proposed to apply for washroom upgrades. The debate led Mayor Steven Byvelds to make a comment that “we think small” and The Leader agrees with that assessment. But, should South Dundas continue to think small?

In 2019, several municipal recreation groups backed an application made by South Dundas to build a multi-sport field house in Iroquois. While that application was unsuccessful, the idea was based on the need for a year-round recreation space in the community. That need still exists. This proposed facility is not a small project and could potentially garner infrastructure money from all upper levels of government.

For decades, families have called for a pool in South Dundas. Given the size of the land around Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners, ample parking, and a yearly fund of money from EDP Renewables dedicated for that specific area, that’s an idea that represents bigger thinking. The yearly stipend from EDP Renewables could offset financing or operating costs of such a facility and be leveraged to support infrastructure funding applications.

Nearly every iteration of Morrisburg’s waterfront plans since the 1980s have called for a pavilion/restaurant/welcome centre/museum on the water. A facility like this would be a further draw to Morrisburg’s waterfront – for residents and visitors alike. Again an example of bigger thinking.

The trend is that shovel-ready infrastructure projects are favoured for funding approval. Consider this, the 2019 Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program South Dundas application for the multi-sport field house had no such shovel-ready plan. But in North Dundas, a plan to overhaul the recreation park in Hallville that existed for nearly 20 years was shovel ready. Construction will soon begin on that $2.7 million Hallville project, $2 million of that is funded by the ICIP program.

To be shovel-ready for projects, South Dundas will have to spend some money to create the plans for its big idea projects. Considering the amount of infrastructure spending that is ongoing – and the expected increase in that spending as the country digs out from the COVID-19 pandemic-induced recession – creating some big idea plans would be good value for money, even if those plans sit on the shelf for a while awaiting the right funding opportunity.

Small thinking will relegate South Dundas to getting less than its share of the proverbial infrastructure funding “pie”. It may be easier to think small, but it is not better.

South Dundas is ripe and ready to see any one of its big thinking marquis projects come to fruition but small thinking won’t get us there. It is time for South Dundas to think big and dream big.

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