A Perspective on the Future of Cornwall Ontario by Harry Valentine – LTE Aug 26, 2014

A Perspective on the Future of Cornwall Ontario by Harry Valentine – LTE Aug 26, 2014


LTE UCFN – A looming municipal election invites a wide range of citizens to declare their candidacy for public office and share their vision of the city’s future. Over the past 30-years, various candidates have promised to work to bring high paying jobs to Cornwall, repeatedly singing the hymn “I shall bring high paying jobs to Cornwall if elected – – – Ah-lay-hay-loo-yaaahhhh” during every election campaign. Except that nothing in this regard has materialized in many years. Ontario’s once vibrant manufacturing industry has collapsed while the provincial government pays over $10-billion annually to cover the interest charge on the provincial debt.


Population Growth:


Several years ago, there was an initiative to improve Cornwall’s commuter transportation link to Ottawa and the commuter bus service started. Today, it carries about 40-daily weekday riders between Cornwall and Ottawa. Except that improved transportation links to Ottawa have only benefited a few communities in the region that have undergone population growth, namely those located within 50-kms of Ottawa. On the Quebec side, opening a commuter train station at Vaudreuil to serve as the western turn-around point for Montreal’s Lakeshore commuter train service greatly increased population growth at Vaudreuil and surrounding area.


Competition from Quebec:


The Vaudreuil-Soulanges region of Quebec is located between the Ottawa and St Lawrence Rivers and border with Ontario. It has potential to compete with Cornwall for future economic development despite having long been an electoral stronghold for the Parti Quebecois and Bloc Quebecois. The recent opening of Hwy 530 across the St Lawrence River between Dorion and Chateauguay along with recent improvement to the docks at the nearby Port of Valleyfield enhances prospects for future economic development in that region. That region’s recent increase in population growth enhances future prospects to further develop Aerodrome-Montreal-Ouest at St Lazare.


Growing Cornwall’s Population:


A former Cornwall city councilor recently initiated some discussion about increasing Cornwall’s population. Perhaps at a residential district in Cornwall that is similar to Greg Quay in South Glengarry could attract a mix of professional people and retirees to Cornwall. To the east of Creg Quay on the Quebec side, the attractive village of Notre-Dame-sur-du-lac is built around a series of purposefully built interconnecting canals that provide all homes in that village with waterway access, via each backyard. It is an attractive neighbourhood where a mix of professional people and retirees live and where all houses are occupied.


Area Population Growth:


A neighbourhood similar to Notre-Dame-sur-du-lac located on the Ontario side and with each home having waterway access from the backyard may attract professional people to live in the outlying area near Cornwall. Except that several years ago, the region’s conservation authority stalled plans for such waterfront residential development at Lancaster. Unless the provincial government is prepared to repeal some of the powers accorded to some of the conservation authorities, future waterfront residential development would be out of the question in this area while it would likely prevail on the Quebec side of the border.


Cornwall Waterfront Residential Development:


Over the past several years, developers have built multiple-unit housing accommodations between 2nd Street West and the Cornwall Canal, also to the north of water street that provide some of the residents with a view over the river. While other waterfront development may be possible at Cornwall, the region’s conservation authority would likely oppose such plans. Otherwise dredging the tributary of Gray’s Creek that extends under Boundary Road into Cornwall’s east end, along with the installation of a water pump and small navigation lock, could provide summer time waterway access close to residential areas located south of 2nd Street.


Recreational Waterway:


Parks Canada oversees the Trent Severn Canal system, Rideau Canal system as well as locks on the Ottawa River to provide for recreational boating. There are plans to re-activate the old navigation canal near Coteau, Quebec, for the purposes of summer recreational boating. It may be possible at Cornwall, to build a navigation lock to the west of the new causeway, between the Cornwall Canal and St Lawrence River, to transit recreational watercraft. Mechanical boatlifts between Cornwall Canal and St Lawrence River and over the dam wall between the Cornwall Canal and Lake St Lawrence may be possible.


It may also be possible to build a shallow navigation canal using raised earth and concrete sections around the bottom of the dam wall, to link Cornwall Canal and Lake St Lawrence. The canal would include navigation locks and transit recreational and small commercial watercraft during summer. The edge of such a canal may need to be located some 50-metres away from the base of the dam wall so as to assure the structural integrity of that dam wall. Such a proposal requires further economic analysis as well as structural analysis


Barge Port:


The development of 2 x deep-sea super ports on the Gulf of St Lawrence for super-sized container ships could introduce container-on-barge traffic between those ports and inland ports. Bringing containers to a port at or near Cornwall’s front door during the navigation season could lower transportation costs for the distribution centers. Revisions to the navigable waterways act could go far to help develop a barge port at or near Cornwall. Except that the region’s conservation authority may delay development of such barge port, potentially diverting future maritime container traffic through the Port of Valleyfield and Vaudreuil-Soulanges area.




Cornwall’s close proximity to the St Lawrence River enhances future prospects for waterfront and waterway development related to tourism, recreational and residential purposes. Except that the region’s conservation authority and NOT the elected municipal councils has acquired authority over such future development.

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