Lots happening in North Grenville these days. The announcement of a new hotel coming to Kemptville is an exciting development for all sectors of the local economy. For quite a few years now, the need for more hotel accommodation in Kemptville has been clear, and there have been a few entrepreneurs interested in launching a project over those years.
The problem has always been a chicken and egg kind of thing. On the one hand, if we had a large hotel, we could attract conventions, seminars and other gatherings to places like the Municipal Centre and Kemptville College. We could also have even more sporting events, as the North Grenville Curling Club and Little League Baseball have managed to put on. Imagine, it was felt, what more we could do with our facilities here, if more people could only stay the night, instead of having to commute back and forth from Ottawa or Brockville.
There is no doubt that the number of major events which could be held in the municipality would greatly increase with a corresponding increase in accommodation. But, on the other hand, those who researched the economics of opening another hotel here found that, as it stood, there would not be enough business to keep a hotel in profit until more events could be brought in. Weekends would be fine, but the mid-week stays would not meet the minimum required to make a hotel commercially viable.
You will remember that the Holiday Inn chain had announced that they were opening a hotel on the land where Starbucks is now operating, and their sign stood in that empty field for many, many months. But no hotel arrived. So, the news that the Comfort Inn were planning to open a location in Kemptville has been met with a somewhat ambivalent response. The news is great, and the possibilities opened up by the hotel chain announcement are virtually unlimited for North Grenville. We certainly wish the parties involved all the best and would love to see them succeed.
So, also, would those people in the community who have already jumped in with ideas about how the swimming pool in the new hotel could be opened to the public, if the Municipality would get involved in some kind of deal with Comfort Inn and Suites. That, I fear, is hoping beyond what is likely, or even possible, though it would be one way to get a swimming pool in the area – possibly the only way it could happen, given the economics.
The other big news, of course, is the agreement which has, it seems, been finally signed between Ontario and North Grenville regarding the future of the Kemptville College campus. Perhaps now the taxpayers will find out precisely what the financial terms of the deal are, and will be hoping that they are as favourable as we have been led to believe.
Whatever the agreement involves, it will be of genuine importance for the economic development of North Grenville in the coming decades. The College is a prime piece of real estate, and, as with the hotel news, it holds great potential for a wide variety of agricultural, commercial, educational and social initiatives. The deal has taken three years to reach, in which time a lot has changed. The entire campus property is not included in the agreement, and what the future of the excluded property will be is of concern. Will it be sold for development of other kinds?
The farm and arena on the east side of County Road 44 is not part of the municipality’s share of the land, so that valuable asset remains outside municipal control. What the future holds for that parcel will be fascinating to see. In fact, what the Municipality does with the section they are assuming will also be a fascinating conundrum for whatever Board of Directors are appointed to run the not-for-profit body it is intended to establish to administer the property. Who will those Board members be, who will nominate and appoint them, and what role will the Municipality have in the process? What commitments have been made by the CAO and Mayor in reaching this deal with Ontario?
What are the intentions of the two French language School Boards already using buildings and facilities on campus? It is rumoured, at least, that one of them has plans to buy their section of the land and building they occupy. Will the planned school at the corner of County Road 43 and Somerville Road go ahead, or will the College become the new educational centre for french language education in the area?
Yes, there’s a lot happening in North Grenville theses days, as we enter an exciting year of elections and change. To steal and mangle a quote: Though Trump is angered and Putin is vexed, we’ll still stick around to see what happens next!