Ottawa CEO of the Year puzzled by South Dundas Council’s inability to accept $300K gift from his father, John Ross

South Dundas Councillor Archie Mellan (right) stands alongside local entrepreneur David Ross during a presentation at Seaway District High School in Iroquois. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

IROQUOIS — In a heartfelt letter to the editor, Ottawa’s CEO of the Year and head of the burgeoning Ross Video corporation expresses his puzzlement at South Dundas Council’s rejection of a $300,000 donation from his father and other private backers for facility improvements at the Iroquois campground and airport.

“Was it because they don’t believe that John Ross, recipient of a national Order of Canada Medal, can do the job?” asks David Ross in the April 14 letter mirroring a post on Facebook. “The same man that brought Ross Video to the town? The same man that built the runway, drained the mosquito infested swamp that was the park, built walking paths, enhanced the beach, built the hanger, ran 40 years of fly ins, and more?”

“Was it because some people didn’t like my father’s request that his name be placed on the building? When you raise over $300k, have done all this for the town, and are 84 years old, what’s the harm in that? Is it worth $300k to the town to refuse?”

After mulling the elder Ross’s financial offer toward an envisioned new building estimated at $650,000 this winter, council turned down further consideration of the matter April 2.

“Was it because it didn’t seem that John Ross was properly committed to seeing the project through?” David Ross also writes, posing a series of questions. “That’s unimaginable given the year of work he’s already put in, consultations, plans, endless council meetings and discussions, and of course the $300k commitment.

“Was it because the residents were not sufficiently engaged in the project or decided to just sit back and watch?” adds the younger Ross, noting a local newspaper reported “zero emails and zero phone calls in support” of his father’s “latest project for the town.”

The local tech magnate compares this to the lack of interest he noticed in the early stages of the fight to save his old alma mater, Seaway District High School, after the local school board shocked the community with a preliminary plan to close Seaway two years ago. The Iroquois-raised Ross and his company eagerly embraced a joint effort with the municipality and community to prevent that outcome.

“There weren’t nearly enough people to even circle the school track,” he recalls of the public interest at the start of the pushback against the Upper Canada District School Board. “That initial response was also disheartening. (In the end though, we filled the gym to capacity and won.)

“I can’t help but write that I’m extremely disheartened to see this come to pass,” he says of the latest council decision. “John Ross and Ross Video have done a lot for the town directly and indirectly. This latest bout of apathy though makes me question if the town really cares.”

Founded in Iroquois, where the company still maintains a flagship manufacturing facility, Ross Video has posted record profits in each of the last 27 years. It plans hire to 100 new employees this year, adding to a worldwide roster of 700.

Ross penned his letter on the South Dundas situation after attending the NAB show in Las Vegas earlier this month. Sometimes favourably compared with the late Steve Jobs of Apple, he used the Nevada stage to announce his company’s latest acquisitions — Utah-based Portalis and UK-based Piero. With annual revenues approaching a quarter of a billion dollars, Ross Video has snapped up multiple companies over the last decade while enjoying torrid growth.

David Ross was recognized as Ottawa’s CEO of the Year at the Best Ottawa Business Awards in 2016.

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