Report To Our Founding Members

Notes and Actions from the founding Meeting of the Murray Canal District

The meeting was held at the Timber House Resort on February 23rd, 2014 starting at 2 PM.

Frank Blanchet and Bert Bowers of the Brighton Arts Council generously provided musical entertainment and a public address sound system. Many thanks for your support.

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting. Among the attendees, was former MPP Lou Rinaldi, and Brighton Municipal Councillor Craig Kerr. Thank you, gentlemen for your support.

Summary of the Meeting

Dave Dingle made a presentation to introduce the idea of the Murray Canal District Organization, the reasons for proposing it’s creation and some proposals on how to establish it. A transcript of the speech can be found towards the bottom of this page.

After the presentation, a brainstorming session was held during which ideas, feedback and suggestions for action were collected. These items are listed in the next section below.

Following the brainstorming session, Dingle highlighted three frequently recurring brainstorming session items and revisited related parts of his presentation in connection with each. These are highlighted as follows:

Frequently recurring: Quality of life, enjoyment of our surroundings, preservation and protection of our ‘way of life’ should be the main goals of the organization.
Related items in the presentation: The goals and focus of the organization should be determined through the establishment of a broad consensus of the membership at large. In the interim, until a more formal process of setting these goals and focus is in place, unanimous agreement from the members should be obtained for significant actions, goals and focus. For the time being, the goals of (1) improving road and bridge conditions, and (2) growing the membership quickly appeared to have unanimous support. Establishing an executive through a ‘join and volunteer process’ followed by a full membership vote, would be a third focus broadly indicated by our discussions. If any concerns or issues (aka not a broad consensus) please indicate by email as soon as possible. 🙂

Frequently recurring: To be successful, the organization must focus on a small number of initiatives, and make some quick wins.
Related items in the presentation: The bottom line recommendation of the presentation is to focus initially only on growing the membership quickly and dramatically by building awareness and tackling unanimously agreed problems that can quickly be addressed. The presentation highlighted a number of issues and opportunities across many dimensions: Quality of life, safety, environment, economic development, heritage, arts and culture. The review of these items was intended to (1.) draw attention to the depth and breadth of opportunities and issues to be addressed in the fullness of the coming years and decades; and (2.) highlight how the highly-fragmented municipal, county and national park boundaries and the interconnectedness of the surrounding bodies of water are a ‘Root Cause’ factor in the difficulty of resolving the problems and tapping the vast potential for quality of life improvements. Great success in tackling these problems requires a large-scale/critical-mass organization that speaks authoritatively for the district.

Frequently recurring: Murray Canal District should partner and coordinate with Friends of Weller’s Bay, Friends of Presqu’ile and Friends of Brighton Bay, among others.
Related items in the presentation: This is implicit in the goal of speaking for the district. Working with, aligning and partnering with these organizations is crucial and is a means of quickly growing our membership. Several connections already in place. Formal partnering should take place once we have established our executive and processes.

Post meeting discussions and actions leading from the meeting:

– A delegation, led by Dave Dingle, to the Municipality of Brighton Council Meeting on March 3rd 6PM to introduce the Murray Canal District organization and to present a budget inclusion request to repair Stoney Point Road. Members welcome and encouraged to attend.
– A delegation, led by Erin Alexander, to the Municipality of Brighton Budget Review Meeting at 6PM on March 5th. Members welcome and encouraged to attend.
– A delegation, led by Dave Dingle, to the Municipality of Quinte West Council Meeting date TBD to introduce the Murray Canal District organization and to present a budget inclusion request to repair Barcovan Beach Road. Members welcome and encouraged to attend. Comments and input beforehand appreciated.
– A draft letter for review by our members, to Brighton council requesting budget inclusion to repair Stoney Point Road. Please watch your email for this letter and provide your feedback.
– A draft letter for review by our members, to QW council requesting budget inclusion to repair Barcovan Beach Road. Please watch your email for this letter and provide your feedback.
– A visit with the PEC Chamber of Commerce on March 8th to to introduce the Murray Canal District organization. Members welcome and encouraged to attend.
– A request for applicants to stand for election as an Executive Committee member. Requested by copy of this email. Please respond to indicate your interest. Subsequent meeting to be held to elect TBD but soon.
– A clarification about the fire trucks and the canal bridge. Apparently the firetrucks are exempt from the load restrictions and may cross the bridge. But, it appears the first responding truck will come from Quinte West as a consequence of the brigdge’s condition. Action to get an official confirmation of the exact situation.
– Numerous contacts from interested individuals and concerned parties following the meeting. We now have almost 200 twitter followers and over 40 registered members with more arriving daily. Looks like we’re well on our way.

Brainstorming Session Notes

Overall feeling/sentiment: preserve way of life we enjoy now; wellness & quality of life is the input (goal); economic development should only be a by-product or a consequence, not an objective.

Engagement with other Groups
Engage “Friends of Weller’s Bay & Presqu’ile Bay
Community engagement with students to help
Engage Heritage Foundations (e.g. Speedy) and local historic groups
Engage youth for entrepreneurial opportunities along the canal – i.e bike rentals? kiosks? services for boaters?

Bridge & Retaining Walls
Fix bridge so it’s safe. Wide enough for pedestrians and/or bikes.
Fix retaining walls so they’re safe for people

Canal Trails
Fix the trails so they are attractions for pedestrians
Create a separate trail for vehicular traffic
Canal trails should be groomed bike paths on both sides of the canal
Build an Arts & Cultural Centre near the bridge in conjunction with Brighton Arts Council. This to include an art gallery & crafts, winery, local products.
Continue bike lane from Lovett Road to Carrying Place
Clean up the trash along the canal
Improve moorings for boats (add power, showers, etc)
Non boat fishing derby – historic park should be restored
Have a clean up day followed by a dance

Stoney Point Road
Fix potholes and make sure the road is safe and secure
Street lights at curve
Other ways to make that curve safe for pedestrians and cars

Better signage for boaters and visitors along the canal
Better signage to indicate Brighton’s boundaries

We are Brighton. Why does our mail go to Carrying Place?
Attract doctors to the area and better access to medial services
Reservoir for fire protection
Public beach – minimal charge
Weeds in bay block boats
promote local business
Maintain character of small town

Murray Canal Founding Meeting Presentation Transcript (speaking notes)

Welcome! And thank you for coming to the founding meeting of the Murray Canal District. An auspicious gold-medal day to begin a new organization.

Being here today means we share a common interest in the Murray Canal and it’s surroundings.

200 years ago the area was known as the Murray Isthmus. Then, it was strategic to commerce, navigation and defense. Today, it is just as strategic to taking our three-County region’s economic development, tourism and environmental health to the next level.

We literally have before us a fantastic opportunity to dramatically improve quality-of-life for our residents and the vitality of the entire region of the three counties of which it is physically a hub.

The opportunity may not be entirely obvious when you consider current realities:

How was your ride down to the Timberhouse today?

I hope you were successful dodging the potholes.

Any trouble finding this part of Brighton?

Bye the way, if you live in this area, how good is your Internet connection on your home computer?

How are those propane or fuel oil bills going this winter? Been pretty cold. I hear natural gas is quite a lot cheaper.

Was there a lot of traffic on 64 or 33 headed back from the County?

Any near misses on the bridge?

Hope you don’t have a fire. If you do the first trucks come from Quinte West because of load restrictions coming across the Brighton bridge. Did you know that? (ed: needs confirmation from BFD)

Have you explored along the canal and the banks on either side between the bridges? Have you noticed the poor condition of the roads, bridges and banks? Have you struggled to find your way along the trails?

Water quality in Presque Isle Bay and in the bay of Quinte is poor. The Murray canal connects these two bodies of water. The causes of this pollution may be debatable, but it is certain that a solution will depend on cooperation across the entire watershed and the connected bodies of water.

Do you find yourself in the car on the way to entertainment, cultural and recreational activities a long way away from here?

In the bigger picture, the world is changing quickly. Climate change, soaring energy costs, and economic inequality are potentially big impacts to our rural way of life.

The nature of work itself is changing more rapidly then we can imagine. Industry, tourism and immigration patterns are rapidly changing, with potentially disruptive impacts on our day-to-day lives. Our young people often leave to pursue careers and opportunities far afield.

These are well-known issues. But why is it taking so long to fix them? If there are great opportunities locally what are they?

Did you know there are three municipalities in three different counties within immediate proximity to the canal area?

Did you know the canal, the lands on either side and the bridges across it are a national park? Did you know the grounds of the park away from the bridge areas are actually managed by our local conservation authorities?

Did you know the canal itself is a part of the Trent Severn Canal system, one of the largest canal systems in the world. Did you know there is a private members bill to turn the entire Trent Severn Canal system over to a Crown corporation, like Canada post. The bill is before Parliament and will shortly receive second reading. It is brief and to the point, severely lacking in details. This legislative process urgently needs our input although it is uncertain whether this bill will be passed or not.

In short the governance and management of the area is highly fragmented with many leaders, many different levels of government, with decisions made in distant town halls, county chambers, provincial and federal parliaments. And this complex picture may only get more complicated in the coming years.

While some of these problems are quite local and can be fixed literally by getting the attention of our local counsel, the vast majority of the problems and opportunities straddle multiple political boundaries.

Solutions require the collective attention and alignment of our political representatives. Often the resources are available or are already there. But we compete for resources and attention with problems that have a bigger profile and are easier to fix because they’re contained within a municipality or a County. In short, the political process and our leaders need help.

We already have the car traffic headed to one of the most successful tourism regions in Ontario traversing our district every day. Through simply improving our own quality of life we can easily enrich the experience of these visitors and derive considerable benefit for ourselves in the region at large from doing so.

Our region is crisscrossed and bypassed by ultra high-capacity fiber-optic cables. None of these serve our immediate area. All our emails, tweets and website visits leading to this meeting took place through wireless communications flowing through remote servers located in Quinte West or even Kingston. While a wonderful advance over the dial-up communications of not too many years ago, this leaves our region disadvantaged and unable to participate fully in the digital economy that is upon us. This can be easily remedied with extreme benefits accruing to our residents.

There are many many more opportunities we can identify through our collective imagination and creativity.

This is where the idea of a nonprofit nongovernmental Murray Canal District organization arises. It is a means to harness our collective voices, to harness the will to resolve our current problems and to overcome the barriers to achieving the full potential of our area.

If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk together.

With a critical mass of concerned citizens formulating our priorities, shaping a vision for the future and becoming a substantial, high-profile voice, not just within our communities but across our region, we will go far.

We can capture the attention of our representatives and enlist the support of citizens who live outside the immediate area. This will bring our issues to the top. This is how we will attract the needed resources and political capital to get things done.

Since we are all here, the question becomes how should we proceed? To get started I have a few simple proposals for which I would ask a show of hands to determine our very initial direction.

I propose the remainder of this meeting be devoted to three tasks:

Obtaining your participation as a member, and characterizing your desire to be involved in any or all of the following:
– an interested party
– a connector who can help to bring at least 1 more member to our group
– a driver and connector who will bring more members and would also like to participate on standing committees and project groups.

Your agreement on a simple, flat, consensus-based approach to identifying issues priorities and next steps driven by a standing executive committee. With election, at a followup meeting to be held within the next three weeks, by our members, of a standing executive committee to recommend priorities and actions of significance to be voted upon by the membership at large. This committee will also make decisions on administrative matters, membership commitments, fundraising and communications.

Obtaining your input on issues and priorities through a brainstorming process focused on the flip charts in the corners of this room.

At the front desk we have stations set up where you can register to become a member of the Murray Canal District organization. People are standing by to assist.

At the third flipchart in the far corner please write your name down and indicate if you want to become a connector or a driver.

If you would like to make any kind of financial contribution to the Murray Canal District there is a basket on the table near the bar.

There is free coffee and tea at the counter by the bar. The bar is open.

We will reconvene in half an hour to review and rank issues and priorities from the brainstorming list. This will be followed by a brief wrap up and closing of the meeting.

Thank you again for your interest and participation today.