50-foot high­lander

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

The Big Ap­ple in Col­borne, the Big Nickel in Sud­bury, and Win­nie the Pooh in White River may soon have some com­pany in the On­tario road­side attraction pan­theon.

“I think you’ve prob­a­bly heard talk about a pro­posed High­way 401 statue which would help identify the com­mu­nity as a des­ti­na­tion, a place for peo­ple to pull off the high­way, and take pho­tos,” Joanne Ha­ley, South Glen­garry’s gen­eral man­ager of com­mu­nity ser­vices, told coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion dur­ing 2019 mu­nic­i­pal bud­get talks March 22.

Mrs. Ha­ley stated that the idea evolved from a sug­ges­tion first prof­fered by the township’s for­mer Chief Ad­min­is­tra­tive Of­fi­cer, Bryan Brown, who left the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s em­ploy in Jan­uary.

“For many years, he talked about cre­at­ing a fig­ure, an attraction, for peo­ple to come and visit, like what you see through­out North­ern On­tario,” she ex­plained.

Mr. Brown had been CAO for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Machin, lo­cated be­tween Kenora and Thun­der Bay, from 2007 to 2011, and was ap­par­ently in­spired by the tourist at­trac­tions he saw in that part of the prov­ince.

Kenora boasts Husky the Muskie, while Thun­der Bay has the Terry Fox Me­mo­rial and Look­out on its out­skirts – both of which are pop­u­lar road­side stops for fam­i­lies, shut­ter­bugs and other tourists.

Mrs. Ha­ley, pre­sent­ing the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment por­tion of the draft bud­get in place of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer and tourism pro­mo­tions co­or­di­na­tor Shauna Baggs, who was ab­sent from the re­cent meet­ing, ex­plained that the pro­posed statue would, in keep­ing with the lo­cal Glen­garry brand­ing ini­tia­tive, take the form of a 50-foot high­lander.

Ac­cord­ing to Mrs. Ha­ley, Mrs. Baggs has “done some pric­ing on what some­thing like this would cost,” and ar­rived at the fig­ure of $200,000 – plus an ad­di­tional $100,000 to ac­quire the prop­erty where the statue would be erected, likely sur­rounded by a park­ing and pic­nic area.

The tract of land, cur­rently owned by the Con­seil sco­laire de dis­trict catholique de l'Est on­tarien/French Catholic Dis­trict School Board of Eastern On­tario, is sit­u­ated along the 401 in Lan­caster, near the junc­ture of South Beech Street and Coun­try Road 34/Mil­i­tary Road South – prac­ti­cally kitty-cor­ner to the Pi­lot Fly­ing J/Denny’s truck stop.

And while the sub­ject of the statue – part of a broader “des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing” ini­tia­tive – was broached dur­ing the re­cent bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions, Mrs. Ha­ley pointed out that the cost for the pro­posed project was neither of­fi­cially in­cluded in the bud­get doc­u­ment, nor re­quested by the com­mu­nity ser­vices/eco

nomic de­vel­op­ment and tourism of­fices for 2019. “This is just some­thing for coun­cil to think about,” said Mrs. Ha­ley. “We didn’t ex­pect you to put $200,000 into the bud­get this year. We just wanted to take the op­por­tu­nity to say that this is some­thing that we would like to maybe see at some point in time, and to get coun­cil’s di­rec­tion.”

Coun­cil­lor Stephanie Ja­worski, who called the statue “kind of a crazy idea in some as­pects,” but who ad­mit­ted to see­ing its mer­its, asked Mrs. Ha­ley about North Glen­garry’s par­tic­i­pa­tion since the statue falls un­der the aus­pices of the town­ships’ joint Glen­garry brand­ing ini­tia­tive.

“Just from the de­scrip­tion we’ve heard, it talks about the 401 and 417. So have we been talk­ing to North Glen­garry, and would they have some­thing sim­i­lar there, by the 417?” she said.

Mrs. Ha­ley replied that Mrs. Baggs has “been work­ing very closely with North Glen­garry for ideas,” in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of putting up a statue in that mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Mayor Frank Prevost supports the premise of the plan.

“I like that we’re think­ing out­side of the box, and I think that’s what we need,” said Mayor Prevost.

“If you go to Toronto, ev­ery­body gets off the 401 at the Big Ap­ple, just to see what it is, right? So this could be a great op­por­tu­nity to draw peo­ple here.”

“A lit­tle out there”

Coun. Sam McDonell was some­what tepid in his as­sess­ment of the pro­posal. “I don’t hate the idea,” he said. “I thought it was a lit­tle ‘out there,’ but I don’t hate it... But I’m def­i­nitely not on board at $200,000.”

Although Coun. McDonell isn’t whole-heart­edly be­hind the plan, he sug­gested that the statue could be named in hon­our of for­mer Pipe-Ma­jor (John Thomas) J.T. MacKen­zie – an Ed­in­burgh na­tive and World War II vet­eran who im­mi­grated to Canada af­ter the war.

Mr. MacKen­zie, who died in 2004 at the age of 83, even­tu­ally be­came one of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent pipers, and was one of the early or­ga­niz­ers of the Glen­garry High­land Games.

Deputy-Mayor Lyle War­den felt the plan war­ranted ad­di­tional con­sid­er­a­tion.

“I think we should have a fur­ther, in-depth dis­cus­sion, on the $200,000,” he said.

“Maybe it could be dis­cussed at strate­gic plan­ning (ses­sions).”

Coun­cil seemed to agree with that sug­ges­tion.

How­ever, Coun­cil­lor Martin Lang ad­vised coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion not to over­look an im­por­tant stake­holder in the mat­ter.

“As far as putting a statue up, like Sam, I’m not hat­ing it. I’m be­com­ing more open to it, as we talk more about it,” said Coun. Lang.

“But I think you’d bet­ter talk to the com­mu­nity a lit­tle bit first... be­fore you just put this thing up there.”

Coun­cil­lors Ja­worski and McDonell also ex­pressed the de­sire to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of such ini­tia­tives be­fore mak­ing a com­mit­ment to the high­lander statue.

“Speak­ing to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in gen­eral... with these crazy, out­side of the box ideas, it would be great if we had more data to sup­port their value, like how they do or would ben­e­fit us,” said Coun. Ja­worski.

Coun. McDonell, con­curred with his col­league.

“I’d like for some­body to be able to prove to me that some of that $200,000 is go­ing to be re­cu­per­ated,” he said.

“I’d like to see some more fig­ures be­fore we go and spend $200,000.”

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