50-foot High­lander gets OK

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

South Glen­garry coun­cil has given the thumbs-up to pur­sue fund­ing for a pro­posed road­side tourist at­trac­tion in Lan­caster – a 50-foot-tall High­lander statue – dis­cussed dur­ing bud­get talks this past March.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­utes from the town­ship’s strate­gic plan­ning talks held in Mor­ris­burg on June 22 and 23, coun­cil di­rected administra­tion to ap­ply to the Cana­dian Ex­pe­ri­ences Fund “to cre­ate a tourist in­vest­ment at­trac­tion” fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by Shauna Baggs, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment and tourism co­or­di­na­tor, on the sec­ond day of the ses­sions.

Mrs. Baggs con­firmed with The News last week that the ap­pli­ca­tion – in the amount of $400,000 – is be­ing sub­mit­ted with an eye to­wards putting up the statue “some­where off the high­way (401) in Lan­caster.”

An­nounced in the 2019 fed­eral bud­get, the Cana­dian Ex­pe­ri­ences Fund (CEF) is a two-year, $58.5 mil­lion na­tional pro­gram “to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties across Canada as they cre­ate, im­prove, or en­hance tourism prod­ucts, fa­cil­i­ties and ex­pe­ri­ences,” ac­cord­ing to the (fed­eral) Canada Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment web­site.

CEF fund­ing is de­liv­ered through the re­gional devel­op­ment agency in the ap­pli­cant’s re­spec­tive re­gion – in South Glen­garry’s case, FedDev On­tario. The pro­gram “nor­mally tar­gets in­vest­ments that range from $25,000 to $500,000 for projects” that fo­cus on sev­eral “pri­or­ity seg­ments,” in­clud­ing tourism in ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, win­ter and shoul­der sea­son tourism, and farm-to-ta­ble, or culi­nary, tourism.

Mrs. Baggs explained that the ap­pli­ca­tion she filed last week would cover the cost of the statue, the land­scap­ing around it, “and a few other small de­tails.”

And while she told The News that the town­ship has yet to pro­cure a spot for the statue, and that “po­ten­tial prop­er­ties” for the project are be­ing eval­u­ated, a pos­si­ble site was men­tioned dur­ing the afore­men­tioned bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions in the spring.

How­ever, that tract of land – near the junc­ture of South Beech Street and County Road 34/Military Road South, prac­ti­cally kitty-cor­ner to the Pi­lot Fly­ing J/Denny’s truck stop – is cur­rently owned by the French Catholic Dis­trict School Board of Eastern On­tario.

Ac­cord­ing to Mrs. Baggs, the statue ini­tia­tive al­ready has some un­of­fi­cial up­per-tier govern­ment back­ing.

“I spoke to one of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the (CEF) pro­gram,” she said. “I just kind of gave her a very high-level overview of what the project in­volved, and she was very ex­cited for it, and thought it was a good fit.” Mrs. Baggs is equally en­thused. “I was at the ‘Big Ap­ple’ (off High­way 401 near Col­borne) a cou­ple of weeks ago, com­ing back from Toronto,” she said of the land­mark stop for mo­torists go­ing to and from Toronto which fea­tures a bak­ery of­fer­ing on-site pre­pared ap­ple pies, bread and other treats, a counter-serve din­ing area/restau­rant, pet­ting zoo, and many other at­trac­tions.

“And they’ve cre­ated a whole in­dus­try there now...There were six tour buses parked there when we stopped.”

Mrs. Baggs fore­sees the pos­si­bil­ity of a sim­i­lar sce­nario in South Glen­garry.

“The ini­tial in­vest­ment (for the statue project) is go­ing to be quite large. How­ever, the im­pact is go­ing to be for years to come,” she said.

“Peo­ple might first turn off the high­way to get a pic­ture, then they might go to the restau­rants down the street, or do a bit of shop­ping...I think it will be re­ally great,” she said.

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