Cornwall - Dec. 22, 2011 - 1) There have been rumours that the OHL may return to Cornwall at some point. Do you believe that Cornwall is a hockey town and can Major Junior hockey could work here?
SETNYK - Cornwall is a great hockey town with a rich and vibrant sports history. Cornwall born Ed "Newsy" Lalonde was the first Captain of The Montreal Canadiens and helped the famous franchise win it's first ever Stanley Cup. Cornwall was the home of QMJHL/OHL hockey team the Cornwall Royals who won three Memorial Cups. Hockey fans enjoyed watching star athletes like Dough Gilmour, Ray Sheppard, and Dale Hawerchuk light-up the lamp night after night. For a brief time in the 1990s Cornwall was the home of AHL franchise The Aces, who were a farm team for the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche. Coaching the Aces were Jacques Martin and then Bob Hartley, both of whom landed NHL coaching jobs. Currently over a thousand people are in attendance each game to see CCHL Junior A hockey team The Cornwall Colts play. The Colts won the Bogart Cup Championship four times and the Fred Page Cup once. Many talented hockey players suited up for the Colts including Cam Barker and Yann Danis. The City of Cornwall has hosted the Royal Bank Cup, as well as the Ontario Winter Games and Special Olympics. Cornwall ranked second in the first ever Kraft Hockeyville, and in my heart I still believe Cornwall should have won. The City has invested heavily in infrastructure building the multimillion dollar Benson Centre arena that has three NHL sized rinks in it. The City has also attracted great new businesses, like the Ontario Hockey Academy, which has set up shop in Cornwall. There are a lot of notable people from the Cornwall area who have made a career out of hockey. Mayor Bob Kilger was an NHL referee, and his son Chad played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. Lori Dupuis is a gold and silver Olympic medallist for Women's hockey. The list goes on and on! There have been rumours over the years of the OHL returning to Cornwall. Most cities who host OHL teams are much larger than Cornwall. In fact Belleville is one of the only cities as small as Cornwall to also host an Ontario Hockey League team. Tickets for an OHL regular season game would probably be in the $16-$22 range. I think a lot of people in Cornwall want an OHL team, but can enough people afford it? I have not done the marketing research on this, but perhaps there is a reason why OHL franchise are mostly in Cities two or three times larger than Cornwall. I would love to see OHL hockey in Cornwall. I would definitely attend a few games a month, but I would not buy seasons tickets. Cornwall is a terrific hockey City, and an OHL franchise would be great for economic development and attracting new people and businesses to the City. However I am concerned the market is not there to make an OHL franchise sustainable and profitable.
BENNETT - The rumours of an OHL team coming to Cornwall have been around for years. Personally, I believe most of those rumors are started by owners using us as a threat, when they want a better arena deal or other concessions from their current home
cities. I think if an OHL team really wanted to come here, they would make the effort to come see our facilities, and gauge the city's support for a team. I haven't seen any of that yet. So until I do see that, I don't take any rumour seriously. Now, having said all that, do I think a team would work here? The answer five years ago would have been a simple no. But, asking me today, I would answer yes, and here's why. If anyone has been paying attention to our city in recent years, you can see a big turn around in the way we, and others perceive us. We are now a city on the rise. With over a thousand new jobs expected over the next year to eighteen months, we are set to finally start growing our population. An OHL franchise now, would be one more carrot for our city
to dangle in their effort to attract new residents. Some would say that the OHL was all ready tried, and failed here. That's true. But I think that team was poorly promoted, it didn't compete, and the owner of the time wanted to move it to a bigger market, so he could sell it for a lot more than what he would have gotten trying to sell the team in Cornwall. We were a dying town at that time. Things are much different today. A team coming here now would make sense. They would have a fan base now of about 2000-2500 just to start off. With new
residents coming here, it can only go up from that. A new team would help us continue the buzz out there that Cornwall is on the rise. An OHL team creates media interest all winter long, and promotes the Cornwall brand. That is something I think we should be taking a chance on. So maybe, instead of waiting for the next team to use us as a negotiating tool, we should be putting the word out that we want a team here. Let all current owners out there know, we are here, we are ready, and we can be a place for a successful OHL franchise.
2) It appears that the customs preclearance station will be moved to Massena, New York. Is this a good thing or bad thing for Cornwall?
SETNYK - To say the makeshift Customs on Brookdale is an eye sore would be an understatement, and something definitely needs to be done, but how did this whole mess start? It started when Steven Harper and the Conservatives wanted to arm CBSA agents. Akwesasne opposed this because the customs was on their land. I truly believe this conflict could have been resolved through mediation, but Harper doesn't govern by pragmatism, instead it's either his way or no way. Now it appears the Canadian customs preclearance station will be moved to Massena, NY. I'm pretty sure this is a first, and this will create a series of new precedents for the two countries. Unless they declare the new site "Canadian Soil" like they do with an Embassy, a lot of legal questions come to mind, especially with legal jurisdiction. I will reserve judgement on these potential legal issues until more information comes out. According to a local newspaper Guy Lauzon and Bob Kilger have known and supported this move to U.S. soil for over a year now. I don't think the stakeholders, in this case local residents, the people of Akwesasne, and the local police were properly consulted on this issue. Although they didn't have to be consulted or asked for their feedback, in this case it would have been the right thing to do. Despite a few concerns about legal issues and proper consultation, there are some immediate advantages to moving the customs to US soil. It will clean up the mess on Brookdale, and Akwesasne residents will no longer have to check in to the CBSA to go home. This move will be a good thing for Cornwall, so long as Canadians can reasonably, conveniently, and safely cross the boarder here to the U.S., and return home with the same ease.
BENNETT - The issue of the Border crossing moving to the American side is a complicated one. And to be honest, I am not sure I fully understand all that would be involved in making that decision. What I am sure of though is this. Not having the border crossing on our side would severely impact our ability to fight
smuggling. How could we? There is a lot of space between Cornwall and the proposed lacation of the new port of entry. The Canadian government would have to poor resources into the local policing organizations. The Akwesasne police would need the most support. They would be constantly fighting organized crime organizations who will try to set up shop in their territory for their illegal smuggling operations. That isn't fair to the people who live there. It isn't fair to the police officers who's jobs just got a whole lot tougher, just because of the location of a building. As I stated earlier, it is a complex issue that I don't fully understand. But, for the impact on our Akwesasne neighbors, and our city, the possiblity of smuggling activity increasing, is enough for me to want the government to think this out carefully before making any decision. Our neighboring communities have done a lot of work over the years
improving our image and crime rates, and I would hate to have to start all over again. At the very least, our government should be consulting Akwesasne and Cornwall, our local police, and the RCMP. How could
we not be consulted? We need to demand to be heard, and have our concerns raised to those in government making these decisions. I may be all wrong in my opinion about the smuggling issue flaring up again. But until someone explains to me why I am wrong, my concerns and other peoples' concerns will just grow. So with a decision, there needs to be an explanation, and a plan, as to how this is going to work for our communities. That is the very least of what we are owed in this process.