Jeff Green | Oct 23, 2008
Oct 23/08 - First Impressions
Back toHomeFeature Article - October 23, 2008 Marmora’s “First Impressions” of SydenhamBy Julie Druker
Lorie Reed, Typhany Choinard, Ginny Trousdale, Bruce Moore, Natalie UchimaruChris Lucas
Marmora’s Tiffany Choinard had a generally good “First Impression” of Harrowsmith, Sydenham and Perth Road, but she saw room for improvement.
Choinard, a planning co-coordinator from the Marmora community, represented 5 Marmorians who participated in an exchange program with the three South Frontenac villages. The exchange was organized by representatives of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFCDC).
Five people from Marmora traveled to South Frontenac and made note of their first impressions of the villages, and members of the Greater Sydenham Community Association will return the favour later.
Choinard reported her group’s findings to a meeting at the township hall in Sydenham on October 15.
Bruce Moore, a rural business consultant with OMAFRA who has been working with communities and the Exchange Program for 4 years, stressed that the Exchange Program, “is a tool to address the revitalization of smaller rural communities.” Part of his job is to train participants involved in the exchange on what to look out for.
Overall the “first impressions” on entering the three communities was good, according to Choinard; however she pointed out that signage at certain entrances could be made clearer, especially when entering Sydenham from Harrowsmith and vice versa.
The rest of the presentation focused mainly on Sydenham. The group found there was plenty on offer, a feeling of community and an overall friendliness and helpfulness of the people in the stores, schools and services.
The general infrastructure was considered good, and the three churches and the nature trails were well received as well.
The group suggested that a sign on Rutledge Road indicating Sydenham's downtown core would be helpful. Parking was somewhat difficult to find. It was suggested that putting fire numbers directly on homes and businesses instead of on markers would make finding things easier.
Beautification initiatives in Harrowsmith and Sydenham were suggested, such as banners and dressing up the painted garbage cans in Sydenham.
The houses in Sydenham’s downtown area need some beautification and suggestions were made to hold gardening or seasonal decoration contests.
Empty windows could also be used to visually enhance the downtown rather than detract from it. It was suggested that SHS students could display work or hold art shows or that curtains could simply be put up.
It was also suggested that the availability of public washrooms and a payphone would both be bonuses to the area, along with additional public benches for visitors to the town’s public spaces.
Sydenham’s most outstanding features were felt to be its natural beauty and history.
According to the Marmora group, the biggest challenges that need to be addressed are signage, litter, beautification, and proximity to Kingston.
Lastly, it was felt that the current “water issue signs” left a feeling of unease in visitors, who became aware of a conflict in the community.
Choinard pointed out that the Marmora group learned plenty from their visit and they plan to adopt some of the ideas they found in Sydenham. These included updating their gateway signs with heritage photos, using cement slabs to restore older gravestones and creating a pamphlet for new visitors.
The findings were well received at the meeting and generated a feeling of excitement and anticipation as to how these issues can be addressed.
Lorie Reed, the chair of the Greater Sydenham Community Association, stressed that the future success of the GSCA relies heavily on the will of the community to instigate some of the suggestions offered by the exchange program. Reed said that the program “is an absolutely fabulous way to bring in an outsider’s perspective of what they see when they come here.”
A GSCA survey is currently available at various locations in Sydenham for community members to fill out to add their personal input. The GSCA will be meeting regularly in the new year every second Wednesday of the month and the community is welcome.
The GSCA, which includes Perth Road Village, Sydenham and Harrowsmith, formed in May of this year, and has published a 2008 Directory that includes a map of the area and the businesses and services that it has to offer.