by Cecilia Naismith
New branding strategy looks at establishing unique Northumberland identity
The exercise that will result in a new branding strategy for Northumberland County might be just the time for an idea Cramahe Township Mayor Marc Coombs first pursued 20 years ago – renaming the county Northumberland Hills.
Coombs recalled that this was before Northumberland Hills Hospital ever opened. He was on the county's tourism advisory committee at the time, and realized how its beautiful rolling hills seem to define the county to some extent and, in his mind, set it apart from neighbouring counties.
At the April council meeting, he expressed his hope that the idea can be explored during the coming two-part exercise that director of communications Kate Campbell described.
“Within the current four-year strategic plan, council provides direction to staff to evaluate and strengthen the Northumberland brand,' Campbell said.
Doing so supports both organizational excellence, and economic development and prosperity.
Communities increasingly rely on branding to get ahead in a marketplace where all are competing for resources, business attraction and tourist dollars. Good branding can provide the edge.
It often relies on an image that others associate with the community – Paris as a city of romance, Rome as a city of history, Las Vegas as a place to gamble and be entertained, Prince Edward County as a place of wineries and rustic authenticity.
“It's about the art of the franchise, what makes your municipality a unique and desirable place to be,” she said.
The Northumberland logo was updated in 2006, but there was no brand strategy beyond that. The process now beginning will have a Phase I in 2018, with the Letter M Marketing firm assisting. The process will include a brand review, an internal consultation with county staff and a mechanism for community engagement.
A Phase II, envisioned next year and beyond, will lead up to a visual asset design and roll-out.
Plan 2014 increases flooding risk, speakers say
A 50-year plan to manage Lake Ontario water levels has been replaced by a more recent one that is setting the stage for more shoreline flooding and erosion than the old one would have produced, Jim Mackenzie and Sarah Delicate of United Shoreline Ontario told Northumberland County council at its April meeting.
United Shoreline Ontario partners with United Shoreline USA for awareness and engagement around these issues, Delicate said, and the fact is that traumatic flooding took place over some months in 2017.
Many people are not aware that Lake Ontario water levels are controlled at all, Delicate said, but this is done through the Moses Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River.
In a plan created in 1958, high- and low-water levels were established as trigger points. The range of water levels that resulted was a reliable tool used by Federal, provincial and municipal authorities in engineering, planning and policies surrounding the shoreline.
Then an International Joint Commission established Plan 2014 to create what Mackenzie called higher highs and lower lows as trigger points. It allows for higher levels over longer periods of time – and then, if you factor in climate-change events on top of that, such as the wicked winds of recent weeks, you have a recipe for disaster.
The damage calculations on which the commission based Plan 2014 are grossly underestimated, Delicate stated. They do not take into account emergency-response costs damages to municipal infrastructure, damage to parks and beaches and shoreline properties, lost economic activity from shoreline businesses, and loss of tax revenues due to decreased property values.
New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who initially supported Plan 2014, is now a strong advocate of the United Shoreline organization after having to spend $45-million in shoreline-protection measures. In fact, the new trigger levels are higher than the altitude of Sodus Point, NY, which could potentially leave that community underwater.
Plan 2014 refers to protection and indemnity to anyone affected adversely by the new parameters, she added, but this has not materialized.
To make matters worse, she said, the plan was developed without public consultation, and municipalities did not even get a heads-up that changes were being made.
The speakers urged council to take some of the steps recommended by United Shoreline Ontario.
Ensure adequate emergency-management planning for an increased flooding risk, including sharing resources to maximize flood resiliency.
Share with residents the need for protections and indemnities.
Consider a resolution like the one passed in Clarington that lobbies for resources and shoreline protections.
Individuals are also welcome to get more involved on their own, and an on-line petition can be accessed atwww.unitedshorelineontario.ca.
Ministry plans for summer traffic on the 401
Ontario's Ministry of Transportation is working on initiatives to help the many travellers the summer months will put on Highway 401, as they encounter seasonal construction.
Ministry representative Christina Klein shared a few of these ideas with Northumberland County council at its April meeting, and also brought members up to date on work to be done in 2018.
Of the 22 projects planned (including two bridges east of Kingston that must be completely replaced), Klein listed two in the Northumberland area – one job will take place on the stretch east of Nagle Road as far as Lyle Street in Grafton (paving and new culverts), and the other at the Wooler Road interchange (bridge rehabilitation).
Drivers who are up-to-date on roadwork can make better decisions on their routes and get less frustrated, Klein said, even if these decisions are made en route.
She discussed media notifications and the illuminated Portable Variable Message Signs that provide the latest information on traffic flows ahead, as well as the Ontario 511 site that refreshes minute-by-minute.
Klein said the ministry is always looking for feedback to ensure the best service for drivers looking to minimize the challenges that work on Highway 401 can pose. And councillors had some ideas to offer.
Cobourg Mayor Gil Brocanier offered kudos on the 511 site, which he said he had successfully used, but wondered about incidents – how quickly is an incident, such as a traffic accident, reflected on the site. Klein said this is done as quickly as possible, and estimated they would appear within five to 10 minutes of occurrence.
Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson suggested this kind of information could be conveyed more quickly and accurately if the 511 system was tied in with those of the OPP and emergency responders.
Cramahe Township Mayor Marc Coombs agreed with Brocanier that 511 is a fine service, but he said it's not perfect. It recorded a Highway 401 closure in the recent ice storm at 6:06 a.m., but Coombs dug a little deeper and discovered that the accident that occasioned the closure had taken place at 3 a.m.
Coombs also suggested a more consistent form of referring to Highway 401 exits for route suggestions. For example, he may not know where Highway 167 is, but he would know where Millhaven is.
Colborne's OAFVC wins show of support from Farm Credit Canada
Representatives of Farm Credit Canada attended the April Northumberland County council meeting to offer a show of support for Colborne's Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre in the form of a $15,000 donation.
Farm Credit Canada is the largest lender to agriculture, representative Karl McLaren said, but it also believes in giving back to the communities where its customers live and work.
They like the work being done by the Colborne centre, where people can take advantage of the equipment and expertise available there to turn their fruits, vegetables and other agricultural commodities into new marketable products – such as Nice Cream, a frozen treat now being marketed nationwide.
Warden Mark Lovshin acknowledged the significant impact small businesses can have on a community's health and well being, as well as its economy.
“We are very proud of the work being done at that facility,” Lovshin said.
“You are recognizing and advancing that work with your donation today.”
Director of economic development and tourism Dan Borowec also thanked the presenters, adding that their donation will purchase a piece of equipment that helps turn out hot sauces, soups and mixes – all popular commodities these days.
County recognizes special days and weeks
Northumberland County council made a string of proclamations at its April meeting to recognize deserving groups and causes in the coming weeks.
The week of May 6 to 12 was proclaimed Emergency Preparedness Week, whose goal is to raise community awareness and the need to prepare for potential emergency situations.
April 28 was declared a National Day of Mourning for workers killed, disabled or injured in the workplace, as well as those afflicted with industrial disease. Warden Mark Lovshin added that flags would be at half-mast on this day.
The week of May 27 to June 2 was proclaimed Paramedic Services Week in recognition of the contribution these workers make to the community's well being. In Northumberland, Lovshin said, the week will be observed with a project at three schools that invites children to make posters on playing safely.
And the week of May 20 to 26 was proclaimed National Public Works Week as a tribute to the county's public-works professionals, engineers, managers and employees for their contribution in protecting health, safety and quality of life.
Additionally, the county celebrated National Volunteer Week (April 15 to 21) with a presentation to volunteers at the Golden Plough Lodge and Food 4 All Warehouse who are reaching landmarks of service, such as one, five and 10 years, Lovshin also extended his thanks to other volunteers who may not be reaching such milestones but still contribute so much.