Forgotten cenotaph looks for a refresh in North Dundas

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WINCHESTER – A little-known cenotaph in North Dundas will be getting a refresh if a group of volunteers is successful in their application to the federal government for funding.

North Dundas Township council heard a delegation from Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan on behalf of a group to  renovate the Van Camp Cenotaph on Levere Road, near Inkerman. The monument is located at the front of the Van Camp Cemetery and  commemorates five soldiers who died in World War One.

The project will clean and stabilize the monument, replace fencing, re-grade portions of the site and add interlocking stone and new lighting. Work will also help delineate the monument and cemetery from the former United Church property, which is now privately owned. But there is a larger goal besides just restoring the monument.

“There is the physical rehabilitation of the cenotaph that we’re proposing, but there is also an awareness that we need to do as well,”  Duncan told council that the community does not know about the war  monument where it is. “There are names of five young men who lost their lives in the First World War, all from around the settlement area of Van  Camp. So not only do we want to do the physical restoration, we want to do a memory restoration.”

In addition to the physical work, a project working with the Dundas  County Archives and its archivist Susan Peters, will highlight the  stories of the five soldiers commemorated at the monument.

The proposal’s budget for the physical work is nearly $22K, half of which will be covered through the Veteran Affairs Canada War Memorial program if the group’s application is successful.

Duncan is seeking the balance from the township, with some possible community fundraising to offset that. So far, the group has secured a  $500 donation from the Winchester Lions Club towards the project.

“Preserving the history of our community is important and I thank the group for taking this challenge on,” said Fraser.

Duncan has worked on other cenotaph refurbishment projects including in Dixon’s Corners, Morewood, and Iroquois.

The financial request will be considered during the 2023 budget process.

Budget amendments approved

A number of budget amendments were passed by North Dundas council at its November 29 regular council meeting to deal with increased costs in  2022.

Council approved an additional $8,359 for a sidewalk project on South Street in Chesterville. The funds covered additional work identified by the contractor to remove a curb.

Due to an increased volume of maintenance requests for municipal drains, North Dundas council approved a motion to double the township’s budget to $200K. In 2021, the township had 8,700 metres of drains  needing work – in 2022 that more than doubled to 20,650 metres.

Drain maintenance contractors are paid directly by the township. The province reimburses the township one-third of the amount, with the  balance billed to property owners benefiting from the drain work.

Just over $7,000 was approved to pay for sign reflectivity inspections. Due to an increased number of signs needing replacement, there was a shortfall in what had been budgeted for the mandatory service. $30,000 was the initial budget for the program.

Regional waste management

Council heard a presentation from SDG Counties Director of Transportation Ben deHaan about the regional waste management action plan. During the previous term of Counties Council, a report and action plan was commissioned to encourage collaboration between the six  lower-tier municipalities in SDG.

deHaan presented the key recommendations from the report which include each of the municipalities committing to create a Regional Waste Management Working Group, working on the transition to individual  producer responsibility for recycling, collecting accurate financial  data for waste management, and adopting a base “level of service” for  waste management in SDG, standardizing fees, collection amounts, and frequency.

deHaan told council that the goal of the working group is to promote municipalities working together and learning from each other – not to  take over waste management or impose anything on municipalities.

Council did not vote on any action from the presentation at the meeting, unlike South Stormont and South Dundas councils, which endorsed  having a staff member join the working group.

This article was originally written for The Morrisburg Leader.

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