South Dundas - July 29, 2012 - Ask people from around Ontario where South Dundas is,
nine times out of ten you'll hear answers saying it's near or around
Hamilton. Why is that? South Dundas has a branding, promotion and
Take a drive down the 401 west from Cornwall; you'll see signs showing
that you are in South Stormont, and the next sign you see announcing a
municipality is Edwardsburgh-Cardinal. In between is the Township of
South Dundas. Traveling east from Brockville, same thing. And, from
Ottawa, you'll see North Dundas predominately signed everywhere
including at Winchester Springs which lies mostly in South Dundas.
There is no sign saying you are in South Dundas.
If a municipality exists, and no one knows about it, how do you
attract tourists and economic development? You don't!
South Dundas was created thanks to the municipal amalgamation pushed by
the Ontario Government in the late 1990's and formed from the former
Matilda and Williamsburg townships and the villages of Morrisburg and
Iroquois. It's a large municipality, with lots of land potential for
distribution centers and tourism opportunities thanks to the St.
But no one knows about it. The township's idea of tourism promotion is
to cut a cheque to a larger municipality to handle it for them. That's
like Apple paying IBM to promote an iPad. There are no signs, no
marketing brand, nothing. Tourism is promoted by local service clubs
which hold events, like the Morrisburg & District Lions Club's
Antiquefest. Note the name - Morrisburg. It's the Iroquois Canada Day
celebrations put on by the Iroquois and District Lions Club, or the
Williamsburg Harvest Festival. The township has been around for 15
years yet acts as if one false move will split the whole township
apart. Other municipalities have been merged together, some forcibly,
but now embrace working together towards a common goal. South Dundas
has no common goal.
If township officials don't buy in and promote the township's brand
and name, why would or should locals do it? With no brand, there is no
attraction to the area.
A few years ago there was a half-hearted attempt to brand South Dundas
and South Stormont as the "Upper Canada Region". It is a good name,
but misplaced. The South Dundas name is confused with Dundas Ontario
and it is not unique. Yes Dundas historically is the name of the
county, but locals don't buy into the name either. Perhaps it's time
to change the name.
Upper Canada Township, geographically people recognize the area. It's
unique, calls on the history of the region. What is one of the most
famous battles on Canadian soil? The Battle of Crysler's Farm, which
was fought in the War of 1812 preventing the Americans from conquering
Upper Canada. The name is unique, it does not share names with other
locations in the province. It is unifying. For the locals it wouldn't
be one part of the township taking over another, igniting village
rivalries, but be something that everyone could unite around.
It would take political will from the township government to make this
happen, which currently doesn't exist.
What else is needed? A strategy, political will and some money to put
signs up. Why aren't there signs showing where South Dundas is? Where
are billboards saying there is land here to develop? Signs by all
major entries into the township, by road, rail and water, saying that
the person is in South Dundas would go a long way.
I fear that action on this is going to have to come from the residents
and businesses of South Dundas, to the point of organizing and paying
for it. Any time the township government gets involved, they have to
plan and study the situation ad nauseam until the solutions they are
studying are no longer relevant to the problem at hand.
So while other municipalities continue to attract businesses, develop
tourism and grow, South Dundas will continue to stagnate and decline.
I guess it is a good thing no one does know where South Dundas is.