Brutal Real Estate Sales Downturn Impact Cornwall Ontario Economy & Highlight Leadership Failures by Jamie Gilcig – JUNE 18, 2015

Over a dozen Cornwall real estate agents have been lamenting the weak market we’re seeing this season.  Inventory is fat and sales are few and far between.

This of course is having an impact on businesses that depend on house sales, from support services to sales of furnishings and all those things that people spend money on when the move.

Cornwall is an interesting market, but the bottom line is that job losses, an inability to retain younger workers, and an inability to attract younger people to the community is having an impact.

Mix in higher taxes than nearby South Stormont, a dysfunctional and unproductive City Hall, and Economic Development team as well as poor performances by a cronyism fueled Seaway Tourism and Chamber of Commerce and it becomes clear how the bar has been lowered to the red line.

Cornwall’s local economy is getting bulldozed by big box stores even though not that many have invaded the city.   Where other communities have fought the arrival or growth of Wal-Mart for example our city gave Smart Centres Corporate welfare.

Some of the problems seen is that local business decision makers tend to be older and less literate which makes businesses less competitive in a market where consumers spend more time on Facebook than listening to local radio.

Except that Cornwall doesn’t really have local radio with its two stations being reduced to chain fodder for a big National chain which doesn’t even have a local news room.

Akwesasne has CKON which is the closest thing we have to a local radio station.

CFN was going to bring a local Online TV station including an evening newscast, but City Hall’s boycott has led to a cancellation of that project and the six emerging media jobs lost.

Is there anything we can do to spike things other than hoping for a random ebb and tide?

Lower taxes is the biggest factor as it comes down to bang for the buck for people considering Cornwall.

Spread what little wealth there is.    Until the corruption with tentacles even leading to local charities ends people will take their poor experiences and keep sharing them with others.    How many people have been burned applying for jobs or trying to set up businesses only to see artificial barriers?

Stop using public dollars to protect the bad guys.     Do we really need the city to keep pumping about $20K per year into the Cornwall Living magazine without getting hard core results?   How many great stories aren’t in there unless they fall under the aegis of Rick Shaver or Bob Peters?  As talented as Jason McNamara is, is he the only talented photographer in Cornwall?   Is John Earle really the only videographer in the city?

If you don’t share those contracts out more fairly, chiefly based on talent and value, what happens to those that feel locked out?   They move.   And they share their horror stories enroute and those horror stories do more damage than the weak offerings of Bob Peters and Kevin Lajoie’s press releases.

Real Estate agents need to up their game.   They need to market better, smarter, and wider.    The practices they currently use only work with limited results, mostly based on word of mouth.   I recall asking one prominent agent, Jacques Perreault, to define what he does better than an other agent or what he does that should give a potential client a better reason to use him and he simply couldn’t define himself.

And he’s a past President of the local Real Estate board!

Real estate agents are our ambassadors.  They usually are the first contacts potential new Cornwallites meet and that makes their performance and the culture that they share crucial.   If they fail, in a sense Cornwall fails.

When I originally moved here my ex-wife wanted us to settle in Brockville.   I fought for Cornwall, but looking back the points she made have become abundantly clear.

We also need to give people more reason to enjoy and stay in Cornwall.  Having lost Lift Off, Winterfest, and La Cabane a Sucre is a total fail.  Should those that were  a part of that failure be allowed to continue or maybe is it time to let some new blood in?

The United Way failed in reaching its target which is utterly embarrassing as the targets are usually set below the real targets to make every one feel good.    Michael Galvin, a key factor in the demise of Lift Off’s decline is now in charge?  Really?

The city is spending tons of money on hockey while the arts go begging for dollars.  The 33 year old public art gallery is about to launch a National Campaign after the City cut its funding to Zero.   Is that going to promote our community?  By bringing shame and highlighting the ignorance and pettiness of people like Councilor David Murphy and Claude McIntosh who led the charge to kill the gallery’s funding?

Our city needs to make sure that newcomers to Cornwall can truly build a life and that means inclusion and a not behaving like a bunch of xenophobic extras from the movie Deliverance.    Divisiveness and mayhem have kept our population under 50,000 for far too long.

It’s time to change.    This sad Real Estate market of 2015 should be a huge warning sign to our city.   We need to reverse that trend.

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.




  1. The real estate downturn is happening everywhere, not just Cornwall.

    Comparing taxes in Cornwall to South Stormont is comparing apples to oranges. I’ve listed the various reasons before, so I won’t do it again.

    Corporate welfare happens everywhere. It takes different forms in different locales.

    Local radio without a news room….not really new. It happens a lot. Corus Entertainment, which owns Cornwall’s BOOM and Fresh Radio, has no news room in Ottawa as well.

    Lower taxes would be nice. But let’s be realistic. Cutting taxes means cutting jobs and / or services. I’d rather have a reasonable tax increase, than have services cut / reduced.

    But I do agree stop using public dollars to protect the bad guys. And stop wasting our tacx dollars on whistle-blower settlements / court costs. When a whistle-blower comes forward deal with the problem then. Don’t fire / suspend them and end up costing us mega $$ down the line.

    Festivals come, festivals go…..priorities change. Personally I’d rather go to RibFest, than Lift-Off.

    United Way not reaching its target? Cornwall wasn’t the only city to have this happen. It’s not unexpected or unusual.

  2. Jamie you wrote a good article as usual and all your articles are good but some stick out more than others. You spoke about real estate going down and yes young people will not remain in Cornwall at all and it will only be for seniors on their last legs of life if at all. A ghost town is what Cornwall will be. About real estate agents their line of work is coming to an end because there are no jobs that will pay for people to purchase homes and they have to go into other areas of work. I have heard this since many years ago. I myself (your wacky Jules) would never set foot in Cornwall to live and I would much prefer Brockville, and other places but never never Cornwall ever again dead or alive. Your ex wife was absolutely right Jamie and Brockville is a beautiful town and has the Thousand Islands as well as Kingston. Cornwall is absolutely finished and a mighty black reputation and you can’t get any worse than that. Before I was married friends of mine from Ottawa and elsewhere took one good look at Cornwall and asked what I was doing living down there where there was nothing and both friends in Cornwall, Ottawa and elsewhere all advised me to leave which I did. Cornwall is dead and will never improve at all. All young people in Cornwall set your goals and leave that graveyard of a town and go where there is opportunities. Get a good education and don’t look back at all – look forward to better places.

  3. As a new addition to the city ( they never changed the POP sign) the first thing I noticed was how this city upkeeps it’s open park spaces. Bravo. The Cornwall Photography Club takes many fine pictures of our area and the photogs are to be congratulated Sure they can be in a tourist mag . Never forget our city is proud and healthy. You just have to look u instead of under the rug..

    Comment policy reminder
    CFN has a new comment policy. You must use your real first and last name. As well if your email bounces we will terminate your posting privileges.
    We value all input from our amazing CFN viewers and are always trying to improve the viewer experience which includes making this a safe, informative, and entertaining platform.
    If you have any questions please email

  4. Hugger1…when you adjust for costs associated with legal and settlement payments related to recent events a zero increase budget would have been achievable. The former council (half still with the current council) cost each and every taxpayer real money. Efficiencies can be found and where it impacts the number of required employees let attrition handle the transition to fewer numbers.

    Return to a ward system and fairly represent the whole population and just not the chosen few.

  5. David Oldham….I agree.

    But for others “The Song Remains The Same.” Time to change the CD.

  6. Hugger1, you cannot include Kingston in your post about low sales are in other cities as well, In my Kingston area houses are selling in less than 2 weeks for some,quickly enough for most. I do however live in a desired area where many soldiers live near their base. A girlfriend of mine just finally moved up here, she had put offers on several, she said that two went for above asking. The hockey rink in Cornwall went national did a lot of damage because of very poor city council mayor & then even gets worse for rink owners.My hero & relative Perry Dunlop got the worst when city & higher up people chose to protect themselves & sex offenders. Cornwall has had two very bad mayors back to back. Other whistle blowers have suffered greatly as well verses having their stories handled correctly. I wish it to be different but frankly City mayor & several councilors are dealing with court cases verses just doing the right thing & get on with building up of this city & working with all the business like CFN who are Cornwall,s largest news outlet,read by not only Cornwall viewers but many other far away cities .

  7. I might also add that the high cancer rate in Cornwall is well known

  8. Author

    There are many reasons why some communities struggle. Interes rates are still low. As one person and I were sharing on the phone you can sell T Bone steak for $3.00 per pound, but if you only have $1 it won’t help you much.

    We need to fix our foundation and then in a positive manner build reasons for people to stay and come to our city.

    Until that happens we simply will have the status quo.

  9. You are absolutely right indeed Mary in everything you said. Who wants to go to a mighty polluted high cancer rated town to live and bring up a family. Who wants to live among pedophiles (a pedophile ring) who get away with their crimes because they are Mr. So and So. Who wants to live where drugs come across the border freely along with guns, etc. Perry Dunlop was one of the very best people that Cornwall has ever had and he left with his life intact along with his family or else they would have killed him and his family. Is that the kind of a town that any good person wants to live in and my answer is absolutely not. Good people will leave including good seniors. I left in the mid 70’s and only went back because of mom being mighty sick with cancer and alzheimers disease otherwise I would never have stepped foot down there. We left in 2004 for good and that town is finished. Cornwall used to thrive where the streets were full of people shopping and enjoying life and had work. Today the town is a literal graveyard and way too depressing and so much so that you hardly see a dog around town. Cornwall’s mentality is not something that is welcoming to anyone and nobody wants to bring their businesses nor themselves down there ever. When one gets a bad reputation you cannot shake it – that reputation stays for life.

  10. Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “everywhere. ” Instead replace it with “a lot of places.” Yes, time for the council to build the city up, instead of defending it in court continually.

  11. Mary Bray i agree that cancer rates in Cornwall are high (Domtar). They are very comparable to Shawville Quebec (Consolidated Bathhurst). Actuaries put both these cities at the top of the list for North America in the nineties, to the best of my recollection. Cornwall topped the list for industrial asthma (sulfur dioxide emissions) during the same time period. Fortunately, going forward, most of the sources responsible for Cornwall’s high incident rate have been eliminated. Having said that we still face the daunting problem of an incredibly toxic waste dump located well within the city limits, Big Ben, people living in Cornwall tend to forget or minimize the impact that this festering sore has on our community.

  12. Author

    David Big Ben has no membrane. I have been told that there over 100 more chemicals in our water than in Ottawa. It’s kinda scary, especially when you can’t get clear answers from places like the EOHU.

  13. Some of us like it here in Cornwall, with all its supposed blackness and history. Yes, Cornwall has a high cancer rate. But name me a city that has an industrial past that doesn’t have a high cancer rate. Why bring up things (a pedophile ring) from Cornwall’s past? Yes, it is part of the past. PAST!! We try to move on from our mistakes, don’t we? Drugs and guns cross the border freely?? Again, name me a border where that isn’t a possibility. People still enjoy Cornwall, contrary to what some may think. There is work, if you look for it. Part of the problem is some people have an entitlement mentality. They think the government / society owes them something (welfare, etc.). Sorry, that is not how life works. You get out of life what you put into it. If some see Cornwall as a black hole, that’s their problem and their minds will never be changed.

  14. Good point Jamie about 100 more chemicals in our water compared to Ottawa. EOHU can’t give us clear info about what is exactly in our water, but they say that fluoride is 100% safe to drink everyday. Even though we know the nazi’s used in in concentration camps for malicious reasons. Anyway, just wondering if anyone has a good tap water filtration system they can recommend and trust?

  15. When I do a TDS test on distilled water that is advertised as o PPM, it is 0 PPM. When I TDS test water from my tap, it’s around 130 PPM. I want to know what all those dissolved solids are in my water. I believe in this day and age it should be available to us, just like mcdonalds was forced to tell us whats in their food and the calorie count. It’s like people really just don’t care, until they or someone they know gets cancer then they start blaming things like the water. When the small fluoride group in Cornwall pickets, they are treated like conspiracy nuts and are laughed at. Nothing is funny about being force medicated. How would they feel if health Canada decided that they were going to start administering the flu vaccine in the water. You know, because they know best and say it’s safe.

  16. I really think Jules loves Cornwall and would love to move back here. How else do you explain the obsession with Cornwall??

  17. Hugger it is bad enough that my arthritis has been giving me pain in my right arm for two weeks and then I read that I would love to come back to Cornwall – like hell I would. I come here for some good laughs. What other town can be as wacky as Cornwall.

    Jamie this morning I went walking with my husband in the park and we came across a small dog (black) like your little Fitzie and I was mighty tempted to ask the dog if he wanted to be mayor of Cornwall. LOL LOL. My husband and I love dogs and we patted him. He looked a little like your Fitzie but all black in color. The dogs would make a big improvement compared to what you all have today. The dogs are all intelligent enough to tell the sheeple what they can do with the mayor’s seat. LOL LOL. ROLF!

  18. Jamie, Hugger and folks I just went on the freeloader of Cornwall and found an interesting article where a young man from Montréal was denied a pack of cigarettes and he looked young but presented authentic ID of his health card, etc. The man at the store told him that he did not recognize foreign ID. I want to stress this “is this the way Cornwall treats people from another province” this is nuts to treat people in such a way. My husband who is foreign but is a nationalized citizen was treated mighty bad in Cornwall and when our own Canadians are treated in this way what do you think that immigrants go through on a daily basis in Cornwall. I will give you the article to read now if you haven’t seen it yet.

    Cornwall business man refuses sale to Quebec citizen believing ID was fake

    My daughter who is 36 years old looks like a teenager or early 20’s and had to show ID to buy as much as a lottery ticket, had to show ID to purchase a bottle of scotch for my husband, etc. Never once here in Ottawa have I heard such abuse given to people from Québec or anywhere else. This man will tell others about Cornwall and you talk about tourism the other day in your report Jamie about Ontario overlooking Cornwall and you wonder why. If I were from another town and never knew about Cornwall I wouldn’t set foot in a place like that. When I go to Montréal and Québec city I love to speak French even here in Ottawa. I came across a Spanish lady here in Ottawa who couldn’t speak English and I used my French and she understood and I told her that some words have a similarity and we could decifer what we are talking about and she said yes. That is Cornwall’s hospitality.

  19. 1. A health card is not considered ID. And if the clerk did not know that it was a Quebec health card can you blame him for not accepting it? With printers nowadays, especially #D printers, it is so easy to manufacture fake ID’s. This Istrange one isolated incident. Your statement that this is how Cornwall treats visitors is really unfair. One incident does not indicate how the city operates or treats visitors.

    As for your daughter if she looks young she will be carded. The penalties for selling liquor to underage people are too steep for businesses to take a chance.

    This is NOT Cornwall’hospitality. This is one isolated incident.

  20. Jules…jules…jules…

    If the clerk believed the ID was fake, then the clerk would be doing his/her job appropriately and following the Provincial Offences Act, as it is written. This has nothing to do with Cornwall, aside from your twisted obsession. I think Hugger is onto something!

  21. Last comment should read 3D printers, not #D printers.

  22. All of Quebec has lost my tourism dollars. I will avoid Quebec at all costs because of how i was treated there by many businesses , citizens and even the police there. The police actually told me that if i can’t speak french that i have no business being there. And foreigners being treated badly really has no effect on me. When you go to other countries, you are expected to do as they do no exceptions. But people from other countries come here and we are expected to throw money at them and bend over backwards for them. To the point that my kids can’t sing Christmas songs at school anymore. So save the sob story about a foreigner not getting treated how they want.

  23. Jerry, I’ve got two trips planned to visit my home province of Quebec this summer. Too bad you won’t be there, but we’ll have fun anyway.

  24. Jules….can you provide a link to the story that works? The link you provided doesn’t work.

  25. Speaking of “corporate welfare”….what about the subsidy provided to the Colts to the tune of over $22,000 per year???

  26. Hugger just type in the title or go on the standard freeholder and the article is there. It was there earlier when I spotted it and wrote down the best that I could. I always go by the title and it brings me up to what I want. I find that using those numbers to get in is a real pain and I agree.

  27. Furtz,I don’t get it. I don’t know what you’re talking about “too bad you won’t be there, we’ll have fun anyway”. You don’t even know me. Is that an attempt to be funny or something? Anyway, have fun i guess. Why don’t you just move there? Honestly, what’s the reason you don’t live there?

  28. Furtz – the Gas doctor has been inhaling to much cow gas while on the farm – ha Furts! Furts thinks it’s laughing gas, but he is the only one laughing.

  29. Jerry, I’m content living where I am. But I do enjoy visiting other parts of Canada.

  30. If you think that real estate sales are brutal just now just wait a while longer and see what is in store and not just for Cornwall but the entire country as well as the entire world. Hold on to your shorts and sit down and watch what is going to happen and things that I knew for many many many years. I am sitting here just now waiting for the big events coming and how the sheeple will react when the huge doo doo hits the fan.

  31. Sheeple?? Are you included in that group as well Jules?

  32. Hugger 1
    That story Jules mentioned was in Freeholder but NOT written by their Staff
    It was in the UR(you report section) of the online version of SF
    Citizen Voices
    The stories are by locals but don’t change all that often Tonight June 20 11pm the story by By Kevin Durocher was still online
    UR News
    “Cornwall business man refuses sale to Quebec citizen believing ID was fake”
    I didn’t waste my time reading it and not sure how much vetting this section of SF gets. I have seen some rather odd stories or claims by UR reporters. Not sure who is really responsible in the end…the author…or SF for running them
    The fact the headline says Be LIVE Ing “beliveing” makes me wonder
    Gotta chuckle_with the SF comment section closed_ Hugo writes a column about the $22 grand the Cornwall Colts get every year. Hope they don’t drive another local team to leave town like Cornwall Royals
    Mr Jamie has brought up the ARTS many times
    Last paragraph of POV editorial
    “If it won’t heed these words, then it should at least be fair and offer the River Kings the same discounted rates. The rest of us should keep this decision, and the dollars involved, in mind when another sports – or goodness forbid arts, culture, or community – group knocks on council’s door for a comparable subsidy.” Hugo

  33. Author

    Mel I actually agree with Hugo on this one. Frankly many of the Colts players, I’ve been told, have to pay to be on the team. There is no reason to give the Colts the rink ads and subsidize them while giving the River Kings a stiff one up the posterior and even worse, cutting funding to an art institution to zero. It’s utter insanity.

  34. Jerry, for a growing number of Canadians, the issues resulting from a disgruntled Quebec have become tiresome. When you examine what this have not province has contributed to Canada as a whole, what comes to mind immediately?

  35. I was able to access the “story” on the 19th. IMHO UR NEWS is basically a letter to the editor. First he said it was his health card, and then he said it was his “Quebec licence.” It was either one or the other, it can’t be both. If he looks under 30 he will be asked to provide ID. In fact I’ve seen signs in some stores that say if you look under 40 you will be asked for ID. If the store owner has issues believing the ID is valid he was correct in not selling the man cigarettes. The store owner relies on cigarette sales to provide income to his store.

    The subsidy provided to the Colts is the same one provided to minor hockey on a per hour of ice time used. The last time I checked the Colts were not minor hockey. Hopefully city council will be able to figure out how to divide up the revenue from the complex between the Colts and River Kings. It would be sad to see yet another team leave town due to petty politics.

Leave a Reply