MAC’S MUSINGS: Distribution centre on hold for the time being

Claude McIntosh

A large distribution centre for Cornwall has been put on hold and city officials are attempting to find out if and when work on the multi-million dollar project that could employ several hundred people at peak operation will resume.

Ground work at the site in the Industrial Park area has been completed. One estimate pegs the money spent on the preliminary work at around $7 million.

Earlier this month a three-person delegation – Mayor Bob Kilger, CAO Norm Levac and Economic Development Manager Mark Boileau – travelled to Toronto to meet with officials of the company involved with the project. The company is believed to be the Loblaw grocery group.

City officials are being guarded about the results of the meeting in Toronto. The city is believed to be putting gentle pressure on the company to reveal its intention. Speculation is that the company had plans to shift at least some of its Montreal-area unionized distribution centre to Cornwall before 2015.

Politics may be playing a role in the hesitation by the company. Several years ago a large Canadian Tire distribution centre for Cornwall was all but a done deal, but at the last minute the plan was nixed in favour of a site just inside the Quebec border, less than 40 miles from Cornwall. Some believe that the Quebec government put pressure on the company to build in that province. The official explanation was that an eastern Canada distribution centre at the Quebec site would save on transportation costs.

Another factor might be the marriage of Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart which has a distribution centre up and running in the Industrial Park.

“This may mean that the Loblaws people might want to scale back on the original plans for Cornwall since they now have a distribution centre (Shoppers) here, or they might want to enlarge the Shoppers distribution centre,” said one source. “I think they still plan to come to Cornwall.”

Within the next few weeks representatives of Loblaws are expected to meet with city council in camera for an update on plans for the Cornwall distribution centre.

If for whatever reason the project falls through, the city would have the option ob purchasing the property back from the developer.

TRIVIA ANSWER The House of Refuge and Industry was on what is now Eleventh Street, once called Glebe Road. It was operated by the United Counties and served as a residence for destitute persons, many of whom died at the facility and were buried in unmarked graves on the institution’s property. It later became St. Michael’s (Girls) Academy (also known by another less flatering name). In 1969 it was sold and given new life as a nursing home.

TRIVIA What historical event took place in Cornwall one minute after midnight on Jan. 1, 1945?

HERE & THERE During last Wednesday morning’s record cold snap, Massena village police patrol cars stopped to offer rides to children on their way to school and adults walking to work. The village doesn’t have a transit system. Gives new meaning to the motto “Serve and Protect”. … Hang in there folks, just six months until we can start complaining about the heat and humidity. … Is there a bigger political train wreck than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford? By the time his bandwagon gets to the starting gate in October there won’t be anybody on it. … Congressman William Owens, who has represented New York’s 21st Congressional District since 2009, will leave politics at the end of 2014. Owens is a strong advocate to have the Cornwall port of entry moved to the U.S. side. His departure could weaken the lobby in Washington for such a move, albeit with the feds spending millions for the “new” CBSA port a move to the U.S. side isn’t a priority.

‘ROUND’N’BOUT What do former Cornwall residents miss most about this city? Could be the pizza. Have a friend living in Toronto who puts in an order for two large pizzas when I visit him. And it turns out I’m not the only one taking pizza orders when visiting former city residents. … Good bet that all members of council will be on the October ballot. Some who hinted they may not run again are said to be swinging toward running. … In Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson has made it known he will seek re-election. He just hasn’t got around to filing his official papers. But two serious contenders aren’t playing a juvenile ‘Dare You’ game and have filed their papers.

THIS & THAT Plunging temperatures weren’t the only thing causing a chill for the struggling St. Lawrence Centre across the river in Massena Town. The deep-diving loonie (below 90 cents at one point last week) is expected to take a bite out of Canadian shoppers visiting the mall and other retail outlets. Ironically, the one thing that could help ease the pain (for U.S. retailers) of the falling Loonie is the new low-level bridge that should eliminate those long, frustrating wait times.

SPORTS STUFF Gerry Guay who played on, coached and managed fastball teams in the city has a great story about recruiting a young bat boy at King George Park for one of his teams. One of the bat boy’s duties was to place the bases on the infield before games. Before one game Gerry couldn’t find his new $250 aluminum bat (timber variety sold for $25). While searching around the players’ bench a clanging noise caught his attention. Looking toward second base he saw the bat boy vigourously hammering in a base spike with one of his expensive aluminum bats. … Jesse Winchester scored his seventh goal of the season in Florida’s upset win over Detroit on the weekend. Not bad for playing a checking line role and missing a handful of games with an injury. … Len Winchester (Jesse’s grandfather) who died Jan. 6 was one of the city’s top softball pitchers in the 1940s and early 1950s when the North End Fastball League attracted huge crowds at King George Park. His Canadian Legion club won the Eastern Ontario title in 1950 with Len on the mound. He was a member of the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame. He was 96.

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR Bank account books and deposit/withdrawl slips and banks that closed at 3 p.m.. … Uniformed ushers and usherettes at movie theatres who escorted patrons to their seats while guided by a flashlight. … When everyone knew the gals in the Capitol and Palace ticket booths by their first name. … Movies with an “R” (restricted) rating for the eyes of patrons 18 and older. Of course, that made it a challenge for those under-18 kids to try and “sneak” in. It was easier to get served a pint at the Cornwallis, which went by the code name “The Corn”.

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