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Title - The View from Dundas
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Follow Me on TwitterPhillip Blancher is a writer, web geek and communications professional by trade. He has written for a number of publications in Eastern Ontario and Northern New York State and also was a weekly morning show contributor for two area radio stations. As a resident of South Dundas for the last seven years, this long-time political buff has taken on an appreciation of small-town/rural life while also being a father of four and a soccer coach. Blancher's columns on OurHometown.ca will cover a range of his interests from politics, parenthood, local history and on his favourite NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres. If you have questions or wish to contact Phillip, you can email him at pblancher@ourhometown.ca
Where is South Dundas?
Phillip Blancher
OurHometown.ca

Where is South Dundas?
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 image problem.
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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 image problem.

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. Lawrence River.

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.


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