Delta, Ont. mill tourism may take a hit after highway signage price increase

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200-year old Mill tourism in Delta, Ont. may take a hit after highway signage increase
Volunteer for Old Stone Mill speaks out after yearly payment for advertising on Ontario attractions signs on the highway increases from $400 to $1000 per year – Dec 31, 2018

Since the early 1800s, the Old Stone Mill in Delta, Ont. has milled flour for the surrounding communities and welcomed tourists from around the world.

The historic site is located off of Highway 15 and is a popular destination for people traveling between Ottawa and Kingston during the summer months. For many years, advertisements were plastered on two blue Ontario attraction signs to catch tourists attraction, navigating motorists to the mill, but those signs may be coming down after a 2018 rate increase.

“Our previous bill was $400 a year and the new bill jumped to $1,000 a year,” said Ken Watson a Delta Mill Society volunteer.

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According to the province, the previous provincial government signed a contract in April 2018 with Canada’s Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing program (TODS).

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The Old Stone Mill is run by volunteers and admission is free, relying solely on donations.

Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lake, said the provincial government stepped in to find a solution.

“Our government moved last week to freeze those rates,” Clark said. “We listened to the complaints from small businesses and tourism operators who some were facing thousands of dollars in an increase and we think it was the right decision to have a freeze.”

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Watson, however, says the rate freeze is just a band-aid for the problem and when the rate increase does eventually kick in, it will not only impact the Mill but the entire economy of the community.

On Wednesday January 2nd, Brett Weltman the Press Secretary for The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport told Global News via email, “the price increases for the TODS program were scheduled to take effect to build in this deferred cost, so that existing TODS structures could be scheduled to be upgraded from wood support systems to steel support systems.”

Weltman continued by saying that the actual sign faces were also scheduled to be refurbished and upgraded to the new type 3 retro-reflective materials for higher visibility and extended life.

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Watson is trying to stay optimistic and says the future of the Mill is promising as more people are utilizing GPS devices, and the use of signs is declining.

Watson and his team have until Victoria Day to come up with an advertising plan when the Mill re-opens to the public for the summer months.

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