Editorial: How does South Dundas compare?

American President Theodore Roosevelt once said that “Comparison is the theft of joy.” While that may be true of personal introspection, one normally does not relate the emotion of joy to municipal politics. In fact, comparison is often the best method of judging whether one municipality is in a better position – or has enacted better policies – than its peers. Over the past few weeks, The Leader has looked at the municipal elections of our SDG Counties neighbours to the north and to the east, specifically the major issues each municipality faces.

In the Township of North Dundas, the three big issues facing residents all relate to growth – water, trash, and a vision. North Dundas has a looming drinking water issue. Unlike South Dundas, the water systems in the North Dundas’ two communities – Winchester and Chesterville – are not connected. North Dundas does not have a large water source to draw from, relying instead on eight wells which barely serve the current needs of North Dundas. Future growth depends on securing new water sources.

While current and past councils have adopted a “we can handle it ourselves” approach for its Boyne Road landfill, the clock is running out on North Dundas’ trash issue. Unlike its southern neighbours, it does not have a backup plan for its landfill, and officials shunned involvement in the SDG Counties landfill study, which looked at regional solutions for waste management.

Is North Dundas a rural municipality, a bedroom community for Ottawa (Kemptville 2.0)? This quasi-existential crisis of identity requires officials to deftly balance rural and urban concerns. Growth is needed to spread out capital and operating costs of the municipality, but if the vision is not right, either group could be alienated and growth stalls.

The Township of South Stormont shares a water issue, but on the other end – wastewater treatment. The Ingleside treatment plant is at capacity and cannot support more houses and businesses in its current state. That upgrade is needed because the settlement area for Long Sault is quickly filling up with residential and light industrial development – growth must look west in South Stormont.

Concerns over the dangerous Highway 138 continue to be ignored by the province. A large portion of the highway traverses South Stormont and through its third-largest village – St. Andrews West. While a roundabout will be added at one collision-prone intersection, a highway bypass and significant upgrades are really what is needed to improve safety and stop the needless deaths on the highway.

South Stormont also lacks control over its own waterfront. Instead that township must negotiate with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission for any access to its 30-plus kilometre long shoreline. Two years after developing its comprehensive waterfront master plan, little progress with the provincial agency has occurred, hamstringing South Stormont’s growth for this valuable residential and tourist resource.

In comparison, South Dundas looks to be in better shape. While the municipality is not without issues, none are going to break the bank as badly as North Dundas’ or South Stormont’s. Comparisons like this are valuable when you determine how you vote on October 24.

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