- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

UPDATE: Flato website has been altered since the writing of this article.

As a resident of Owen Sound for over 25 years, I was very disappointed at the image presented by a developer hoping to attract home-buyers to our community. Flato's  “Greystone Village” development is described as "an exclusive enclave of homes located south of 8th Street and east of Highway 6" with "everything your family needs close to home".

Under “Location” on their promotional page is a video, ostensibly representing Owen Sound. I give them full credit for the diversity of skin tones, something our own City tourism video has made no effort to include. Beyond that, the videos fail on any number of accounts - first and foremost, the laziness involved in not bothering to shoot in Owen Sound.

1. There is one slide that is identifiable as Owen Sound – it shows part of a heritage hardware store facade (good choice),  a pawn shop that has been closed for more than a year, and a failed coffee shop franchise that also closed over a year ago.

2. The outdoor shots - Soccer games in front of apartment buildings,  snowboarding through trees and a drone shot of Blue Mountain Village – are clearly not Owen Sound. If they are suggesting people living in Owen Sound so they can get to Blue Mountain quickly, the truth is it is closer from Flato's Dundalk development.

We have some magnificent “scenery from the sky” plus gorgeous water views. I recommend Good Noise Photography and David Strutt for the best of those.

3. The children's clothing store, women's boutique, restaurant, coffee shop and art gallery in the video are not in Owen Sound, and yes, I am familiar enough with my community that I am confident in that assertion.

This company is not the first to use stock photos of “somewhere else” on a website promoting a development in Owen Sound. The last two I know of never ended up building here.

Much more offensive than the videos is the “Neighbourhood Guide” in the “Heart of Owen Sound”.

In the list of “Shops and Retail Services”, 8 out of 20 are convenience stores, only one is a store in downtown Owen Sound, none are in Heritage Place Mall, and two are in neighbouring municipalities.

Under “Restaurants and Cafes”, out of 20 listed, 4 are in neighbouring municipalities (2 of those are duplicates) , one is closed, and two are Tim Hortons.

Under “Health and Fitness”, no public facilities are listed except “Annan Ball Diamond” in ...well, Annan. We do have ball diamonds, and lawnbowling, tennis courts, curling clubs, hockey rinks, toboggan hills, hiking and cross-country ski trails, golf, yoga, massage therapists and more in and around Owen Sound, but the list is almost entirely private gyms.

“Entertainment” is definitely the worst example of laziness in research and is opposite to the branding message I'm sure the website intended to deliver. The 13 listings include the bar below a downtown rooming house, a closed dance club whose last promotion on social media two years ago was “Redbull Fridays”, the city's only strip club, five restaurants  (not listed under restaurants) with sports on TVs  and FIVE Tim Hortons locations. No theatres, art galleries and lessons, museums, bowling, music venues, symphony, axe throwing, dancing, festivals – nothing!

"Education" has 13 places listed – two of which are Bluewater District School Board Maintenance Depots. Two of our elementary schools and one of our high schools are missing from the list, as is Georgian College. A mysterious and unknown “Miller grove elementry school” [sic] is on their list and map.

I am very proud of my city, and I welcome anyone who wants to join us in Owen Sound. But they deserve a realistic picture of our life here in our community. Lots of water and trees – no long stretches of empty beach. Beautiful views – no mountains. Places to buy good home-made pastries and coffee and chat with your neighbours – that are not chains. A microbrewery, locally-made Greek, Nepalese, Mexican, Syrian and Indian food – and bubble tea! Every sport, summer and winter, from pre-schoolers to Puffers. A year-round Farmers' Market. Live music for almost every taste. A Community College. Playgrounds and parks and a wonderful library – all of which were part of our decision to come here as a young family.

This was not a cheap promotion, this website. It was professionally designed. The company should not allow their contractor's  poor attention to the details to detract from the message we should want delivered – Owen Sound is a real community full of real people.









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