Letter to the Editor from Mike Bedard : Cornwall Ontario The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – April 24, 2011

It has been officially 6 Months since my letter to the editor on October 20th, 2011.  The Communities in Boom Report placed Cornwall 100th out of 100 communities; stating that our city was difficult to start-up and maintain a business!
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Many local officials and community figures were outraged and upset that I would agree with the negative aspects of the report.  But any of you who know me well know that I am very critical of myself and my own business because I continuously strive for perfection.  I never hide from the truth and believe the best way to handle negativity is head on.
The Good
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Before I begin to discuss the local economy and give some foresight on how I believe the local market will look, in the short-term, I would like to state that “Everyone I met while campaigning in 2010 truly wanted Cornwall to become a source of inspiration!”  Without a doubt Cornwall has a large potential for progressive change.
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The Bad
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In October, I stated the following “I believe Cornwall to be currently in a very similar position to what has been portrayed by several economists and industry leading professionals.  Cornwall is currently NOT an easy city to start and operate a business in for various reasons including but not limited to: High Tax Rates, Slow Building Permit Approvals, a lack of ‘Small Business Awareness’ by local government and a stagnant population.” Since then Satisfied Brakes, StarTek, Olymel, Café Connectionz, Bugaboo’s and others have announced lay-offs and closures.  We would need to bring in over 750 new jobs to replace the loss of employment and keep up with inflation in this year alone.  We will not be able to realistically achieve this goal and because of that our unemployment rate may increase or Cornwallites could move out of town.
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The last council banded together and like a broken record  repeated over and over again how they were community “Builders” and how proud they were to have been a part of leading Cornwall out of potential disaster and that they acquired government funding to build the new Benson Centre.  Since they were so eager to be responsible for the economic climate, during a period of government spending and some councilors even publicly stated that it was their “job” to provide an economic climate that fostered growth.  I ask you this:

“Why have our municipal leaders not addressed the major decline in our economy!”

Please don’t tell me there isn’t a decline because if their wasn’t then why did Lift-Off state that they are having a hard time securing funding due to a “Slow” start to the economy?  If you are going to take the credit for the good then you need take the credit for the bad!  The truth is council played a very small and insignificant role in bolstering the economy and that is why they cannot help now and nor did they help then!  They will do everything they can to help but ultimately they can do very little and should have never portrayed the image of a vigorous community.
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I believe Cornwall will feel the effects of the local job losses more this time then in the past because most of the job losses do not come with severance packages; as large as some Domtar employees.  Local small businesses will be forced to cut spending and more lay-offs will come in all forms.
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The Ugly
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Cornwall needs to lower the tax burden on both its businesses and residents or it will continue to operate in a stagnant state.
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Councilors: Stop arguing over each individual pea and start cutting the meat and potatoes.  Stop arguing and focusing on the Smaller programs that account for under 5% of the budget and take the tougher route of cutting from the Bigger programs that account for over 90% of the budget!  And please, stop calling yourselves FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE or CONSERVATIVE and then say yes to everything in some fashion.  YES is EASY!  NO is HARD! Being FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE is HARD!
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Also, let’s see some activity or a status report on the  promises made during the 2010 election and start implementing improvements to the cities programs for the youth, culture, businesses, etc.
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Cornwall also needs and attitude adjustment!
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Residents: Stop trashing your city or spreading rumors when you are talking to your children, family and friends.  Cornwall people are more prone to be excited about a person or business failing and the gossip that comes with it rather than focus on cheering on and supporting our local successful people and businesses.  Focus on creating rather than destroying!
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When I am out of town, which is weekly, I speak very highly of our City and its people!  However, I never turn a blind eye to problems or concerns and I strongly believe we should continuously be improving and comparing ourselves to other municipalities and ensure we are amongst the best in the province and country!  Wanting to faithfully improve my home and community is not a negative thing but bantering and doing nothing is!
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Even though I was the youngest candidate in the 2010 municipal election, I was the only local business owner to run for election and I hope more successful entrepreneurs will consider running in the 2014 election!  This city needs a new collective voice and a breath of fresh air to garner interest from outside of the city and right now even though the smell of Domtar is long gone the smell of denial is still fresh in the air!
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Thank You,
Mike Bedard

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Moustache Joes

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