I had the honor of spending an hour or so with Cornwall City Councilor Syd Gardiner Friday afternoon.
I have to tell you the passion shared by Syd for Cornwall and the projects that he works on truly is inspirational.
We talked about a range of subjects; about his love for the Aultsville Theatre and his hoped for Arts Council (basically a United Way for area Arts Groups) and Cornwall in General.
I learned a lot about the man, and about this City I’ve been living in now for five years.
He had just come from St. Lawrence College where Jim Brownell had just announced a $10 Million dollar upgrade and refurbishment package that will allow the school to offer more programs and respond to the growing enrollment and interest in secondary eduction.
Syd spoke passionately about his hopes for an Arts Council for the area and the benefits of combining resources and information for the many people in the arts in the area as there are more people practicing one form of art or another than play hockey.
Then I cornered him on this 3+1 Arena project and he made some very strong statements.
He said categorically that this arena project would not raise taxes for the citizens of Cornwall.
He said that if the Federal $$ didnt’ come through then he support downsizing to a 2 pad arena.
He said that there would be “no job losses” at the new facility, and one quote that I liked is that he said he’d support taking the funds from the sale of the Bob Turner property and making sure that there’d be an artificial turf field added to the 3+1 arena site so that amateur Football and other sports would be able to have a longer season and better facility.
I have to give Syd credit for having vision. My main concern which I shared with him is that I feel that the hockey community so far just hasn’t done enough to warrant an investment of this size.
I feel that Mr. Lecky and his team (team being all of the local hockey groups) need to raise at least $2.5-3.5 Million dollars of the $8-10 Million burden on the city.
Cornwall has a fund from the sale of Cornwall Electric. It’s a lovely nest egg and the city plans to use about 3/4 of the yearly interest of this nest egg to finance this project.
Well that’s good, but that means that this nest egg won’t grow as much and if something happens that warrants a need to call on these funds they will be allocated for a decade.
So again, to me the challenge is for Mr. Lecky’s group and the hockey community that will use the 3+1 arena project to raise enough cash to warrant Mr. Gardiner and City Council’s faith in such a heavy committment.
Syd mentioned that this is about the kids and children are our future; but let’s give them the lesson that things don’t come for free and you have to work for them.
Let’s see the kids that play hockey go out and hustle some $$ together and let’s really see how much Cornwall wants this facility.
Syd then gave me a great quote about the transition that this city is going through since Domtar’s closing.
“You won’t recogknize Cornwall four years from now.”
I would tend to agree with him and I think with people like Syd in City Council many of those changes will be for the better.
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