A Downtown Revival

It’s hard to pin-point exactly when the turnaround downtown started as it evolved slowly. I’ll say, it was about two years ago when Array Hair Studio opened across from Geronimo Coffee House at 201 Prescott. Array brought a nice upscale business that seemed to fit everyone’s vision of what Old Town Kemptville could be. Then Terri and Lee McIlvenna bought and built Geronimo’s into a thriving business that not only opens nice and early but now seven days a week. Recently Array moved a few steps north and bought the building at 115 Prescott across from the CIBC. Like To Be Continued‘s second expansion in just four years, it’s another concrete example of business confidence in the future of Downtown Kemptville.

Since January of this year however the pace has picked up noticeably. Next door to Array’s new location, we’ve seen 113 Prescott, the former Kemptville Advance building leased to the professional engineers of ISI Controls Inc. Setanta Solutions Inc, another professional IT service, now occupies 206C Prescott just south of Voice2Net which opened last year at 200 Prescott. Exit Realty By Design celebrates the Grand Opening of their realty office this Wednesday at 310 Prescott and Integrated Business Solutions Group is in the process of opening offices at 28 Clothier Street East. Up in the Rideau-Sanders Triangle, Andrew Beveridge CPA opened shop at 200 Sanders and across the street at 215 Sanders, the North Grenville Times now has an office on the ground floor (side entrance).

The new growth downtown hasn’t all been just professional services however. We have new investment downtown through new owners of the Kemptville Academy of Martial Arts (formerly Tekken MAA), Brewing Oasis, the South Branch Bistro (formerly the Branch Restaurant) and the Clothier Mills Inn Motel across the street. The Bowen Approach is now located at 3 Clothier and Get Cronk’d , a new fitness business at 9 Clothier (behind), has just hired a new trainer! GlowSport – Kemptville, The Glow Entertainment Company is opening soon at 29 Clothier Street East. By the Prescott Bridge both 10A and 10B Prescott have been leased – look for a number of innovative businesses housed at those locations opening soon. The Prim Shed at 419 Rideau Street and the Posh Plum at 207 Prescott opened just a few months ago. Just last week New Energy Kreations began renovations of a new showroom at 132 Prescott, which will greatly improve the streetscape of that section of Prescott, in other words, the broken window has been replaced.

(Ken Schliemann stands outside his new showroom for New Energy Kreations with Array Hair Studio reflected in the window)

We all look forward to see what will occupy the former Butler’s Victorian Pantry (currently being renovated by new owners) and who will be the new tenants of the vacant storefronts recently leased, such as Array’s former location. The BIA will be working hard this Fall and Winter to help fill the last of the available commercial spaces downtown. Look for even more Grand Openings in the months to come.

 

How to Save the Conservative Party

Andrew Coyne is my kind of conservative (whether he identifies as one or not). He writes in this article “there is no neccesary contradiction between a concern for the individual and an ideal of community.”  Limited government is government that minds its place – it’s not less government or small government, it is the creation and servant of the people.

Worth the time to read …

Source: How to Save the Conservative Party · thewalrus.ca

 

 

With a little help from my friends …

Subaru May 22

The good news was I broke my left leg in November of last year which meant that repairing the clutch in my Subaru wasn’t as urgent as it had been just two weeks earlier. There it sat at Rekmans Automotive while I healed over the Christmas holidays and relied on the generousity of friends, family and neighbours to get me from point A to B. It’s now back in my driveway (honk if you see it)

I missed driving; the Subi’s a great little car. I hadn’t owned a vehicle for the 30 years I lived in Toronto – I cycled, walked, took cabs, used the transit system and rented when I wanted to get out of town and visit family in Ottawa. When I moved back to the country I knew I had to have a car and my brother Michael was deputized as my car advisor as I knew absolutely nothing about them including their care and feeding. In fact it took me longer to find a local mechanic I could trust than a local family doctor. Rekmans Automotive, a family owned and operated garage at County Road 44 and the 416 exit (#28) was were I landed. I’m glad I did.

Enough about cars; this is really about how resilient and interdependent I’ve come to realize country people are and about how lucky I was to have landed in Oxford Mills exactly seven years ago. In the past five months, I’ve managed to make every single event, meeting and appointment I had to attend and run every errand I’ve had to accomplish. I’ve had meals, care packages and groceries dropped off at my door. I was so well taken care of, that on occasion, I felt guilty about having to turn down unsolicited offers of help.

Where does this rural outpouring of generousity come from? I believe it comes from the values that are instilled in you from the realization that when you live in the country you are dependent on your neighbours . “Pull your neighbours car out of the ditch as you would have them pull you out of the ditch” is how I’d express it. I’m not being cynical when I suggest the golden rule is as much about self-preservation as it is about altruism – it actually brings out the best in people. It helps create a true sense of civility, of community. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by that depth of resilience; that type of caring.

So finally, I’m truly grateful for all the assistance I’ve had over the past few months; the drives to town and back home again, into Manotick, Brockville and Ottawa and back, the errands run and the vehicles loaned. In no particular order and apologies in advance for inevitable exclusions – THANK YOU David, Dave, Marc, Penny, Shelley, Deron, Steve, Phil, Robin, Rebecca, Diana, Tom, Kevin, Gerry, Gerald, Karen, Kendra, Dad, Bro’, Sis and Maggie.

Cheers,
John

Green and Growing Local Food

Published in the North Grenville Times on March 18th, 2015

Last week I attended two interesting presentations regarding Lanark, Leeds and Grenville counties; the first on Monday evening dealt with the local food movement and the second on Tuesday morning concerned community economic development.

March 9th Sustainable North Grenville welcomed Matt Brearley, General Manager of the Two Rivers Food Hub, who spoke to a full house at The Branch Restaurant and Texas Grill. Jim Beveridge, his son Andrew and I were also there to talk and answer questions about Markets on Rideau, a re-development project in the Rideau-Sanders Triangle in Old Town Kemptville.

Matt explained the goal of the Food Hub, located at The Gallipeau Centre in Smiths Falls, is to help local farmers and local food entrepreneurs increase their production by acting as an aggregation and distribution point for both produce and protein. The aim is to make local food costs affordable for consumers while helping local small scale farmers to become sustainable. Two Rivers is gearing up slowly as funds become available; its commercial kitchen space opened for business just last week. Matt also told the attentive crowd of 30 to 40 that the Hub can also provide food packaging and labeling services, and will help get products to market.

The demand for locally grown and locally processed food, free of the “ingredients” that agri-business choses to use in maximizing yields and shelf-life, far outstrips supply. Farm gate sales and farmers’ market have reached the limit of their capacity to satisfy the growing market. This offers great opportunities for rural communities that are close to large urban centres like Ottawa.

The Markets on Rideau project involves the redevelopment of 13,000 square feet of vacant commercial building space and an adjoining asphalt parking lot at 200 Sanders Street in Old Town Kemptville. MoR_LandscapeIt aims to become a centre for local food related businesses in which to establish themselves and, through branding the area as a destination, reach a larger trading area. In addition to the renovations and landscaping, a comprehensive marketing strategy will be put in place to provide marketing support for the participating businesses. In response to a question about the relationship between the two projects, I said, “Think of Markets on Rideau as the retail expression of what the Two Rivers Food Hub is trying to accomplish”.

On the morning of March 10th, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs conducted a highly informative Community Economic Development 101 workshop at the Municipal Centre. In attendance were numerous elected officials, public servants, people working in the non-profit sector and members of the general public, all interested in discussing the challenges that rural communities face in fostering economic growth.

You would think that developing the agricultural sector in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville would be a high priority with this group, instead rising Hydro rates and the prospect of further amalgamation in the area dominated. In fact, according to my notes, it was over two hours before the word “agriculture” was mentioned. This is a shame.

We often here the phrase “growth pays for growth” bandied about but usually it’s in the context of housing developments. What if we could grow good and meaningful jobs by developing the local food sector? It might give new meaning to the catch-phrase and it might even be a more sustainable activity in the long run.

As their name suggests Sustainable North Grenville is concerned with issues that threaten the viability of our community. Their Sustainability Fair happens on Sunday April 26th, for details email: info@sustainablenorthgrenville.ca. For more information on the Two Rivers Food Hub, head to: www.tworiversfoodhub.com.