What Will it Take to Get the City of Cornwall To Support Local Business by Jamie Gilcig

Jamie GilcigCORNWALL Ontario – One of the things that few people know about me is that I’m agoraphobic.  IE I have fear of crowds and in particular speaking in front of crowds.

I know; it’s nuts;but there’s something magical about challenging our fears that amps me up.

I used to joke about being a macho hypochondriac; ie I’d imagine I’d have conditions,but tough them out.

I digress.   This weekend I attended two events.  Friday night’s presser for the River Kings.    Cornwall is buzzing.

The Kings play a murky Don Cherry kinda style of hockey that helps the blood frenzy that most Cornwallites have.    Sometimes it even looks like real hockey; but mostly it’s about smack downs and scrapping with crowd faves like Chris Cloutier and Francis Lessard.  (Hope Clouts comes back)

I have always had a soft spot for the more pugnacious variety of hockey player.   I gave Lyle “Odie” Odelein his first card show gig.  It was fascinating watching him destroy a box of cards looking for his pic at one event….

brock mitch al June 13 2014

(pictured from left to right Al Wager, team consultant; Brock Frost, Sugar Daddy; Mitch Gagne GM & Sweater Vest Guy!)

I digress again.    Brock Frost, secret agent, real estate guru, and city council candidate (said to be eyeing a run for mayor in 2018 – hey, the boy has plans!) is trying to do what others have failed; have the Kings finish a season where everyone gets paid.

It’s a challenge, well; because it’s Cornwall, and it being Cornwall someone’s getting screwed, and so far it’s been the Kings Nation.    Brock has a huge challenge cut out for him, unless….he knows….something we all don’t…..which is also pretty common in Cornwall.

Sources have stated that the cost of running the Kings is approximately $600K per year.    The same sources estimate that with everything shaved down; that includes players salaries, if actually received by players, (allegedly David Small was very small in making with the payments to the coach and team)

The new budget is said to be around the $450K mark for the year.

Last year, with all the turmoil the team sold about 250 season tickets which of course is nowhere near enough.  This year the target is double that and you save $25 if you buy before June 30th.    If you extrapolate the attendance  numbers stated last year you end up with approximately $350K which would leave another $100K in sponsorship’s and promotions which isn’t impossible if the community pulls together.

The team lead the league in attendance last year in spite of the turmoil and this year if Brock gets his team working well  it should do better so there’s no reason to think it, improbable, that he might break even and that’s without another partner stepping in or with any support from the city.

And that’s a thorn for this scribbler and many others.   A biz like the River Kings should be front and centre in the Economic Development budget.     Not a soul from the city attended the presser.  Nobody from council, no department heads from the city.  Nada!  (I mean, come on; throw them a bone and give them some dead ice time at the Civic Complex or Benson Centre for practice at least!)

That’s sending a message and frankly not a good one.   This is a city that gives St. Lawrence College about $100K per year to rent Aultsville Theatre; essentially the school auditorium.   They spend even more money supporting the Woodhouse Museum which really doesn’t feel like a museum the rare times it’s open.   It gave a carte blanche cheque for $30K  to Lift Off as a loan a few years ago as well.  Essentially if you are in with Mr. Peters and friends you get support.  If you aren’t….

Saturday night I attended the Port Theatre.  It was Captain Fantastic, tribute to one of my faves, Elton John.  His song “I’m Still Standing” is my theme song 🙂

The Sylvain family have saved the theatre from meeting a grisly end.    When they came in the roof was leaking, it smelled bad, the lights were dark outside, there was no hope, and in the winter not always oil in the furnace.     All that were left were memories, Tim, Glenn, and some really great popcorn.

I had some of that popcorn last night.   Thanks to this local family operation the Marquee is lit up at night.   There is some digital projection, but not studio quality as that would cost close to $75,000 to install.   All you smell is fresh popcorn when you walk in and the place is starting to feel alive again.

They have been run about 25 concerts to add to their revenue stream and help save up for a digital project system; again with no help from the city except for a bit of  minor Heart of the City funding.  Some of those concerts actually sold out even which was exciting to see and be a part of.

Many of those concerts were catered so that there could be booze served.  The Sylvain’s have followed the book but have hit the Cornwall Road Block that so many businesses have endured.   Moustache Joe’s; over a one year wait to open and they were refused the use of the upstairs as a catering hall.

Truffles and Table 21, a multitude of delays and allegations that their patio permit was only green lit when they pulled their ad from CFN.

Another pizza restaurant in a strip mall; a full one year wait before he could open.   These are not rare or unique circumstances.  There are many others sadly.

The Sylvain’s aren’t saying much as to why the City not only have yet to allow them to have their liquor license as many other theatre’s are doing for special events; but they went one step further by allegedly threatening the caterers who had provided liquor service so when I went to have a glass of wine before introducing the band last night there was none!

critesNot a drop since fire inspector Cliff Crites leaned on them.   I have been told that the Sylvain’s are meeting with some mucky mucks this week; but to watch a family bleed and kill themselves to save a historic venue and do such a good job and be treated this way is very very sad.   It doesn’t send out a message to outsiders that they should come to Cornwall and invest.

We are losing our venues in this city.  Murphy’s Inn, no more.    Rangatangs, rung out.  Remington’s.  Even the venerable La Maison is for sale.

People still want entertainment.  I know that as we’ve sponsored sold out events in this town; but we as a community have to do better if we want these places to survive and for us to have things to do or see.

But more importantly our elected officials and public servants who suck our hard earned cash out of us in bucket loads need to get their heads out of their bums and start to listen.  Enough waving of flippers and thanking people.   Action is needed.   Cold hard cash is being lost by people who simply want to help our city grow and thrive.  These people contribute to the culture of our city and economy.  Why do our officials crap on them?

It would be a tragedy for the City to lose the River Kings or the Port theater.  It’s a tragedy that more doesn’t happen here in Cornwall.    Drive down Pitt Street after dark, or you can do as I have on occasion; walk a full city block down the middle without a car inhibiting your journey.   Doesn’t our council and city management, many on the Sunshine list not understand this?  Is it because so many of them don’t actually live in Cornwall or simply have driver’s licenses that say they do yet rack up metric tons of mileage like our mayor?

We as a community need to talk about these issues.  We need to think about the Cornwall we want.   And if we really want change we have to work together to make that change.  We need Cornwall to be more inclusive and open.

But in the meanwhile we need to support our teams like the River Kings.  We need to support families like Larry, Nancy, and Nick Sylvain who have truly given a lot to Cornwall.


And yes, we need to support the newspapers that actually will talk about issues like this instead of punish them.

What do you think Cornwall?

You can post your comments below.


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  1. Jamie you wouldn’t believe this if I told you – no you wouldn’t but this is true. I was thinking about Cornwall all this morning as well as this afternoon and wonder what could pick the town up by its boots and make it a good place to live. The first thing is to stop cowing down to those cut throats that run Cornwall. I also thought about having good transportation in Cornwall’s buses to keep them on the road and longer by using smaller buses and not big ones with very few people. Another thing to amalgamate Long Sault, Ingleside, Morrisburg and such places with Cornwall and have a transportation. Another thing is to try and keep the taxes down as much as you can. People have to put the important things first. Amalgamation will cost big time but well worth it. Moncton NB amalgamated, Kingston amalgamated and so did many other communities as well as Montreal, Ottawa, etc. The cities themselves are getting too big and overcrowded and many would like to live in a smaller area but you have to think what would attract people to Cornwall and make businesses to work. One thing is you have to get people educated and off the welfare systems and give them self worth – send them to trade schools. Make the high schools teach trades like what they used to. Advertise the town to other places. Get rid of this sexual abuse which is a huge stigma on the town. I hope that Brock Frost gets in as council and this man would be good to run as mayor as well. This man is a business man and that is what Cornwall needs and not some dim wit, uneducated individual with no foresite. Cornwall needs people like you Jamie and like Brock Frost.

    About being afraid of audiences Jamie you do very well and the best is to look at one person in the audience and everything will look after itself. You do an excellent job as is and I congratulate you. Take care and all the best.

  2. The city (& by that I mean administration) has to understand that local business is good. Roadblocks are not good. If local businesses thrive then the city thrives and brings more revenue and more tax revenue in.

    Jules, Cornwall does use the small buses now, no more big buses here. As for amalgamation with Long Sault, Ingleside and Morrisburg I don’t see that happening. They are too far away.

  3. Hugger Long Sault is only 7 meesly miles from Cornwall, Ingleside is a meesly 20 miles and Morrisburg next door to Ingleside. Amalgamation can be done and has to be done. The same with Williamstown and all those areas. Everyone is enjoying the profits of Cornwall without contributing in taxes and everything falls on Cornwall’s shoulders. It is long overdo for amalgamation. Look around you they are all very close by. Cornwall has a lot of work ahead of itself to change for the better and get rid of the sexual abuse and the smuggling and high taxes and you will see business go. If a place has high taxes like what Cornwall has then businesses go elsewhere. People have to be educated and have good business minds. Cornwall needs people with the skills which is the most important for a start. Cornwall needs more people with business minds as well and if not then Cornwall stays behind. If things do not change it may have to take the province to issue a city to take charge of Cornwall. Bare Ass is completely incapable and is never there.

  4. Great points in this article. Can’t disagree with any of it. It is really pathetic the way things have been run in Cornwall. I thought having Kilger for a mayor was going to be great for the city figuring that with his connections he’d get lots of good things done for the city, but he’s just been a lazy fat cat collecting another paycheck to throw in his Scrooge McDuck like vault. He’s a joke. If he actually wins the election the people who vote for him should be ashamed.

  5. Perhaps Jules. But I don’t see Long Sault, Ingleside, Morrisburg or anywhere else wanting to amalgamate. Amalgamation has never gone good for any township / municipality. Perfect examples are Ottawa and Toronto.

  6. I completely agree with Monsoon 1974. Years ago I too thought that Bare Ass was going to be good for Cornwall because of his connections and can get businesses on the go. Boy was I mistaken badly and so much so that I don’t trust any politician whatsoever. Turn them upside down, inside out and any other way and they all look and stink the same. No tanks and I know way too much. I didn’t vote this year and if a decent person doesn’t come in to replace (who dat) then I still will refrain from voting. Somebody else has to replace Bare Ass and nobody should put Bare Ass back in and if this happens you can all kiss your town goodbye.

  7. You ask what it will take…the answer is quite simple…it will take a majority of councilors and a mayor that embodies leadership. Outward looking individuals who have an understanding of what drives business and how location and workforce requirements fuel the decision making process.

    Again put rather simply, with few exceptions, it will take a stark departure from the current choice of city representatives. Representatives that are doing and have done in the recent past a poor job for the Cornwall taxpayer. Unfortunately for the majority few councilors have demonstrated listening skills necessary for true representation to succeed. My opinion shared for all.

  8. Mr. Oldham you said it exactly what is needed and I said it before that when a leader and his or her team have no understanding of business or any plans for the present and future then they are the wrong ones. What you have in Cornwall is the most stupid, retarded bunch of lazy no goods that I have ever laid eyes on. There is so much that can be done but none want to budge and make things better. Most around that table are mighty old and one foot in the grave and they no longer can use their intelligence. You have one who is a “don” and what he says goes and nobody has a say. You wonder why a councellor or two left and it took more than the thought of collecting a paycheck why they left. These counsellors left because they had a conscious which is something that the rest of them do not have at all. If any of you elect these no good for nothing clowns ever again then you deserve what you get.

  9. Jeez Jules stop doing this. I agree with most of your comments on this topic.

    And Jaime….pink? Really?? It’s hard on the eyes.

  10. Author

    I stopped mourning the election. Whatcha got against pink? 🙂

  11. Nothing against pink, just this version of pink is hard on the eyes.

  12. Businesses are having a hard time to keep going and the taxes are the biggest enemy of all. When my husband and I go shopping or just walking through the mall we see so many people just looking and when they see the prices of things you would love to have a camera to take their picture of their expressions. That is here in Ottawa and things are over priced. It is going to get much worse than what we see just now and even for people who have homes and have to put food on the table. On yahoo it warned people about BBQing this summer of red meat since it will be unaffordable and to eat chicken instead. We see this already and even a small roast is $40.00 and such prices. Most people cannot afford to eat out and we sure can’t do that at all. Something is mighty wrong in Cornwall why the taxes are so mighty high which makes no sense at all.

  13. When you take a good look around you and see the prices of things in the stores for the basic essentials and you ask why businesses are closing and businesses cannot keep up with the very high taxes and nor can home owners nor renters. Just this morning we were driving by to come home from the store (Farm Boy) and the gas at the pumps here in Ottawa Esso was $140.9. There are mighty big and mighty serious problems in the Middle East and many Europeans and North Americans involved in the fighting. Expect your home heating fuels and food to rise significantly along with other things. Recycle as much as you can folks.

  14. A sporting business venture has not worked in Cornwall since the Royals left. Mind you even a period before they went on the skids with Willie Wise as owner.

    We need the city to support something that will help the economy for more than a handful of sports ( and I use sports lightly) enthusiasts

  15. You are absolutely right indeed Hailey Brown the Royals were a great team and my dad used to sit next to his radio listening to the Royals hockey game way back when. Willie Wise destroyed everything that he touched and he brought it out of Cornwall. When we lived in Cornwall for a while there was the Québec Nordiques Farm Team and they left town as well since Cornwall did not have the ability to keep them. I went to a few hockey games with my kids and as you all know I am not a sports fan. If the River Kings are costing too much money to keep going then just take a good breather and think for a while that there is a good reason why they could not stay on just like other teams. The cost of doing business is horrendously expensive. You have to make the right decisions. Hockey teams work better in big cities because of the amount of people who will go to them. People who are educated do not go to hockey games in general. You get a certain type of people who go to those games and the rest stay home and do other things. The essentials of life come first and most people cannot afford it anymore.

  16. Jules….are you saying the people that go to hockey games are uneducated? I disagree. Hockey fans are from a broad base, from doctors, lawyers, realtors to your average run of the mill office worker.

  17. that brock frost guy gives me a bad vibe. There is something about that guy that just doesn’t jive.

  18. Money = Power. Power = Money. It’s never been a more powerful statement than in Cornwall.

  19. With the way things are in Cornwall now with the businesses this isn’t time for a hockey team no matter how much you all mighty want it. The economy everywhere is in deep trouble and Winnie is going to make cuts from what I read because she wants to balance the books by 2017-18. Cornwall is a very small town and when Cornwall loses just one or two businesses then it is in deep trouble. Now with at least 20 store fronts plus the bars closing + closed this would be the ultimate tragedy. People don’t have money to spend. Brock should be an intelligent person and should use his intelligence to see that. Willie Wise pulled quite a fast one and believe me things are not over yet in this hell of a fiasco of his. People better wake up to reality. We all have wants including myself but I open my eyes to reality and not live in LA LA Land. Talk is cheap it takes money to buy whiskey as my dad used to say. How very true indeed.

  20. Being a small city Cornwall needs all the entertainment options possible. If it works fine, if it doesn’t work fine. Cornwall has fallen before and will again. The city seems to pick itself up when needed. We WILL make it. There is no option of failure.

  21. Hugger it costs big money big time to have a hockey team anywhere and especially in a town known for very high unemployment and it isn’t the figure that you gave me before but triple that figure or quadruple it. Most of the people are senior citizens and others are unemployed and only a small few are employed. It takes very big money just to eat these days not counting paying rent or a mortgage, taxes, utilities that keep on going higher and high taxes to boot and there will be hyper inflation on these things to come and already starting. You cannot put entertainment ahead of the basic necessities. There are many people in Cornwall who are going to bed hungry while the rich want to entertain themselves at the poor people’s expense. None of this makes any sense at all. Cornwall had the Québec Nordique Farm Team and couldn’t keep it and before that they had the Royals which were a very good hockey team that Willy Wise took out of Cornwall and dumped it into other cities. The taxes in Cornwall are way too high and it chases all businesses away. Hold on to your shorts Hugger and don’t get them all tied up in a knot you will see a great deal more happening in the near future. Things that I read on a daily basis that you don’t get to see. You will be welcoming in a “new banana republic” sooner than you all think.

  22. Yes Jules it takes a lot of money to run a hockey team. But if the city were to offer the same conditions to the Kings that the Colts get it would be a lot easier. The Aces and the Royals suffered the same fate…unfair deals with city hall.

    As for the unemployment rates I listed they were obtained from Stats Can.

    Taxes are high everywhere, not just Cornwall. People are having trouble making ends meet everywhere. These are not “Cornwall exclusives.”

    Your “predictions” crack me up all the time. Most of them are so far from reality they make me laugh.

  23. I think people are trying to relive the “good old hockey days” in Cornwall. It’s over, move on. It is obvious ( from the many failed attempts of setting up a team) that Cornwall might like hockey, but not enough to make it worthwhile. Stop beating a dead horse and give the people what they want, or leave them eat cake! 😉

  24. @ Jason re: that Brock Frost guy gives me a bad vibe. There is something about that guy that just doesn’t jive.

    When I first saw the introduction of Brock as a candidate for council in The Seeker I had hope that community oriented critical thinkers were going to step up for council. One issue he talked about was the dumping of fluoride in our water system which he was apparently dead against and even went so far as to elaborate on the insanity of the practice. I was impressed. Then later on he refuted his absolute position and said it was under consideration. Sounds like he’s fence-sitting to me. That doesn’t speak to conviction or leadership to me. Thoroughly disappointed.

  25. Brian…the flouride issue is dead. City council has dealt with it at least twice. It’s over, time to move on.

  26. @ Hugger. The fluoride issue is far from dead in any municipality where mass medication of the population is prescribed and delivered through the water supply.

  27. Author

    It’s far from dead in Cornwall also. If people truly want change there are candidates that clearly are against it and would not hesitate to vote so.

  28. @Hugger1

    I beg to differ. In fact I expect it to be one of the defining issues in the coming municipal election. But you’re right. It is dead as far as this council is concerned. If there was genuine concern for the quality of water that most working poor and those on assistance have no choice but to consume I expect there would be a change of heart. More progressive cities like Victoria, Waterloo and Calgary for example have already stopped adding this chemical to the water and many other communities are in the process. If you do your research you’ll understand why it’s imperative for the health of your family and the environment that this ridiculous practice be stopped. I might suggest perusal of the facts. A good place to start would be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX0s-4AyWfI#t=95

    You may wish to roll over on this issue but I doubt you speak for the informed masses.

  29. I love living in the boonies where nobody is dumping fluoride or any other medication into my well.

  30. Until we can get the “experts” to agree on what is correct I think this is a dead issue. One council votes yes, the next votes no. Are we any further ahead? I seriously doubt it.

    I don’t see flouride being any kind of issue in the municipal election. I see more important issues inn Cornwall’s election.

    People have different opinions on flouride. To me it should be in the drinking water. And until both sides can agree with what should be done I’m sticking with that.

  31. People using “junk science” against Vaccines and now Floride in the Water its insane how they want to go back to the Good old Days when our children were dying from preventable disease.
    For sure go online you can find “Proof” for everything from the CIA shot Kennedy to Floride is a commie conspiracy.

    mass medication of the population

  32. fluoridation was hailed as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  33. @Hugger and StopDrone/Strikes

    There certainly is a diff of opinion in N.America but world wide opinion is certainly favored towards abstaining from flouridation of our water.

    Quick Facts:

    Most developed nations do not fluoridate their water. In western Europe, for example, only 3% of the population consumes fluoridated water.
    While 25 countries have water fluoridation programs, 11 of these countries have less than 20% of their population consuming fluoridated water: Argentina (19%), Guatemala (13%), Panama (15%), Papa New Guinea (6%), Peru (2%), Serbia (3%), Spain (11%), South Korea (6%), the United Kingdom (11%), and Vietnam (4%).
    Only 11 countries in the world have more than 50% of their population drinking fluoridated water: Australia (80%), Brunei (95%); Chile (70%), Guyana (62%), Hong Kong (100%), the Irish Republic (73%), Israel (70%), Malaysia (75%), New Zealand (62%), Singapore (100%), and the United States (64%).
    In total, 377,655,000 million people worldwide drink artificially fluoridated water. This represents 5% of the world’s population.
    There are more people drinking fluoridated water in the United States than the rest of the world combined.
    There is no difference in tooth decay between western nations that fluoridate their water and those that do not.

    Those are facts and not ‘junk science’. And the report I believe you’re citing ‘Ten Great Public Health Achievements — United States, 1900-1999’ is dated April 02, 1999. The vast majority of countries outside of N. America have decided to stop floridating their water since your noted report came out and the trend in N.America is currently against flouridation. Again I’ll cite Calgary and Waterloo as examples.

    I respect your wish to maintain status-quo but I personally tend to respect Europe’s progressive stance towards flouridation and permaculture and expect many citizens of Cornwall do likewise. Whether it will be an issue for the upcoming election or not remains to be seen. I think it’s one of those issues that will be a creeper and will ultimately one of the issues that will divide the progressive’s from the status Quo.

  34. Until all the experts agree to me this argument is invalid. If the experts can’t agree how much further ahead are we?

  35. Critical thinking is skillful, responsible thinking conducive to judgement relying on criteria, is self-correcting, and is sensitive to context and NOT merely relying on ‘experts’ who often seem to be bound to positions lest they expose themselves in their mind to ridicule. The idea that manufactured baby pablum is superior to a mother’s breast milk was a wide spread ‘expert opinion’ by the medical profession for decades. I expect that in time the fluoridation of our water will come to the same conclusion along with GMO foods and Round-up.

    One would think that if the rest of the world was removing fluoridation from their community water there just might be rationale for some serious consideration….particularly since the incidence of bone fractures and Alzheimer’s among our senior population is dramatically on the increase in N. America with fluoridation of our water cited as a major contributor.

    You may choose to wallow in ‘expert opinion’ but I sincerely doubt that their opinions will be so steadfast in the very near future. In turn let’s allow the citizens of Cornwall the freedom of choice and put the idea to referendum in the coming election. That in of itself speaks to a progressive council.

  36. Author

    I do believe for quite awhile there was “expert” opinion that smoking wasn’t bad for one’s health as well; until it was categorically proven that smoking cigarettes kills you dead.

  37. Forced medication of the population through the water supply is just plain wrong, even if most people think it’s okay. Everyone should have a choice about what medications they take.

  38. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I’ll stay with the status quo for now.

  39. @ Hugger. So you don’t mind that city counselors can decide which medications can be dumped into the municipal water system? If so, you have way more faith in the wisdom of our elected officials than most of us. Would you be up for Paroxetine in the water supply? It’s known to relieve anxiety and to make depressed people feel happy. What could be wrong with that?

  40. We elect governments for a reason. Sure, their decisions can be questioned. Until it’s decided by city council to stop using flouride I will continue using the city water supply.

  41. @ Hugger. I thought you had more between the ears than that. You like that municipal politicians are prescribing your meds and delivering them through the water supply?

  42. I’ve accepted your views on this topic, why can’t you accept mine? No need to insult my intelligence. The municipal politicians are NOT prescribing meds and delivering them through the water supply. You see it one way, I see it another. We disagree. We agree to disagree. Next topic.

  43. Author

    Just a friendly reminder to all to debate the principle and not the person. It keeps things a bit more sane. Thanks

  44. The only way to support local business of any kind is get rid of Bare Ass and his gang of cut throats. God help everyone in Cornwall if that jerk gets back in. You might as well as deal with Satan (the devil) than it is to have Bare Ass back in.

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