Tag Archives: BIA

Saying Goodbye to Cathie Hawkins McOrmond



I wrote about Cathie Hawkins McOrmond  awhile ago, and now I must write that today, Friday, is her last day at work for “Downtown Carleton Place”.  McOrmond’s Facebook page used to be consumed with town events squeezed in between her family’s photos. Now there are mostly inspirational posts, as Cathie chose to work her last 8 weeks as Project Manager for the Carleton Place BIA after her job became null and void in the restructuring of things.

I am not going to get specific about the colour of the grass on either side,  but an unplanned departure is never good news. The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart, and that is what Cathie has done. Today, let us celebrate Cathie as a friend, mother  and the never to be forgotten face of downtown Carleton Place.

You might not know that Cathie initially wanted to become a social worker when she was in High School. Sadly, the wayward youth of the Ottawa Valley did not have privy to her talents, and instead, the town of Carleton Place acquired Cathie to cheer lead us on at all our local events for the past decade.


Cathie has lived in Carleton Place since her high school days, and her family is very active in the community. The business graduate has many notches in her belt: teachers aid, life skills trainer, Crime Stoppers, Commodore at our local Canoe Club, and the list goes on.

Whether or not you agreed with her sometimes– you could always see the passion she has for our community.  Makim Gorky once wrote that only mothers can think of the future- because they give birth to it in their children. Cathie’s mother used to be a volunteer tuck shop coordinator for the Carleton Place Hospital. She had encouraged her daughter to volunteer there also, as  she felt it would give her a sense of community.


There is no doubt in my mind that losing Cathie is a loss, but hopefully we can learn something from it. As Rocky McDonald-  former chair of Downtown Carleton Place, formerly the Business Improvement Association (BIA) said to the Carleton Place and Almonte Gazette:

“Though, I do want it to be said I loved working with Cathie every second,” McDonald noted. “She is an amazing individual.”

“She really does have the town at heart,” he continued. “Unbelievable…that woman cares more about this town than, honestly, town hall cares about this town.”

To be a champion, you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. That is and always will be Cathie–as an old Japanese proverb says: “Fall seven times, stand up eight”.


Related reading:

McOrmond excited for future beyond Carleton Place BIA

Cathie Hawkins McOrmond — She’s Just a Small Town Girl

Here Are your Downtown Carleton Place Board Members


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I have had a ton of emails the last few days and today my inbox never stopped. You only have to read the latest story by Tara Gregg Gestner in the Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette to see why.

Carleton Place BIA eliminates project manager position, a job held by Cathie McOrmond for nearly 12 years


“Jeff Maguire, the former publisher of the Carleton Place Canadian and Almonte Gazette newspapers, was chair of the BIA board when McOrmond was hired in 2004.

“Not only is she a local native who cares deeply about the community, Cathie also conducted her BIA role with a real sense of commitment and purpose,” he said. “She wasn’t hesitant to take on new projects, and her involvement with Bridge Street Bazaar, Lambs Down Park Festival and both the Christmas and Halloween parades speaks for itself.”

“Cathie has a passion for the job and for Carleton Place in general,” Maguire continued.

Calling the elimination of her position “a very short sighted decision,” he added, “I believe this move will adversely affect the community.”Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette

If you have read my blogs the last week you know how I feel.  Some asked me who exactly sat on the BIA board. So I went to the Downtown Carleton Place site and found the list. Click here for the board members.

Rob Probert was out of town, if you read the story in the Gazette, so he had no knowledge of what transpired. So that ladies and gentlemen is the list of Downtown Carleton Place  board members which is pretty easy to find and public knowledge.

Time to Change the “What’s In it for Me” Attitudes


Time to Change the “What’s In it for Me” Attitudes




We’re all self-centred– and that is just how it is. So if you are a leader in any capacity you need to make sure your employees are being treated right during any kind of a transition.

No one likes change– as change is a movement towards something different. But, a common ingredient in failed change efforts is that sometimes the people advocating the change are blind to any viewpoint other than their own, and don’t take the time to think before they act.

People that rule the lands or sit on boards always seem to live in a different world than the folks on the ‘shop floor’. That is not to suggest that one is better or lesser than the other, but you need to produce ideas that people can believe in and will work. If our downtown does not carry products or provide services that encompasses what customers are looking for- people are going to take their business elsewhere. It is that plain and simple.  How many people spend most of their time listening and observing to what is REALLY going on in downtown Carleton Place?

I fully admit I cannot provide all the solutions, but I’m not just a writer. Since 1967 I have worked in retail and marketing. Twenty five of those years were spent in my own business while still promoting other small Ottawa businesses and the local Ottawa music scene. I never ever asked once “what was in it for me”– because if you are not devoted to a project with heart and soul for the betterment of business for all–then why bother.

I fight for things that the town of Carleton Place lacks just for the satisfaction of hoping to see the day the town finally comes together. Yes, I am constantly told I have no clue what I am talking about. But, it doesn’t take a Harvard Business grad to see what is actually happening here in Carleton Place.

We want to have a successful downtown–yet I can’t see some suggested ideas working. Then again, nostalgia for the past will not sell the downtown in the present either. You have to have complete control over  your downtown – from special events to even getting rid of the weeds.

Developing and sustaining a mixed use downtown is challenging and we need a balanced leadership group to work on issues. Downtown organizations must have strong outreach efforts which must include working one-on-one with local businesses, and those businesses must have confidence that the right decisions will be made, and made in the right way.

I think most people realize that “the same old” isn’t working here, so we do need to be looking at creative ways other towns have revitalizing their downtowns, and who they have worked with to accomplish their goals. Maybe that means starting new relationships with people from outside of Carleton Place, people with fresh eyes and a different perspective. We desperately need to do something.

In reality there are no single solutions for our downtown right now– but we all need to look beyond that ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality to regain the economic health before the final threads of hope are lost.


Comment from a reader on Facebook

Steve Yaver I’ve only been here 7 months, but  I think it’s possible people from the outside will have a fresh perspective. From what I’ve seen, there seems to be a lot of cronyism in CP, with people pretty polarized on both sides, which is natural in a small town. I think having someone with zero preconceived notions, etc, can make a huge difference, even if it’s just to get a fresh pair of eyes on things.

What I do see is a town pulling in two directions – one that wants badly to revitalize downtown, preserve its heritage, and keep to its small town roots, but at the same time, embracing dense housing development, sometimes at the sacrifice of those roots others want to preserve.

I see a town at a crossroads that ultimately needs to decide whether it wants to stick to the roots on which it was founded, which can easily included SUSTAINABLE development, and attracting business (and I don’t necessarily mean storefronts, but other types of business so there are real employment opportunities locally) or whether it wants to be a town of commuters, which likely means more big box stores and possibly a further decline in the downtown area.