2017 – CANADA’S 150TH BIRTHDAY

THE CONTRARIAN

Canada’s 150th birthday, surely that warrants some kind of celebration. My prediction is we will not hear much about it till after this year’s election – no party will want to put forward any ideas before then as the other parties will seize on them, distort them, destroy them, and no useful purpose will have been served. Think Tim Hudak’s proposed economic package, a small part of which was a hiring freeze; this hiring freeze part was blown out of proportion to be a wholesale layoff of whole departments, and that cost Hudak the election. Of course Ontario is now proposing wholesale layoffs of whole departments; such is Canadian politics.
But right after the 2015 Federal election, whoever wins, we can confidently expect lots of announcements, and no doubt one will be for grants to municipalities, clubs, associations, non-profits, ‘NGO’s’, for monumental type construction projects in celebration of the ‘150’. Given the short time frame projects will have to be ‘shovel ready’ to qualify for the grants.
So, it behooves us all, sports associations, service clubs, cultural entities, chambers of commerce, church or fellowship lodges, above all municipalities, to put our thinking caps on now, come up with some ideas the whole community can get behind. Then have the preliminary work done and plans ‘on the shelf’ so that when the announcements come, and the parameters are clear as to what will get the grants, we can pick a project ‘off the shelf’ and submit.
Just to confirm this notion, Dryden got its Water Treatment Plant back in the 70’s; it’s major water-main project in the 80’s; Curling rink, Number two arena, swimming pool, seniors center, day care, all of these mostly paid for by senior governments and way more than our share of the pie. All because we had our ducks lined up, because we were “shovel ready’; we were ‘first hog at the trough’.
So maybe it is timely that somebody, perhaps the city, and/or the Chamber of Commerce, the DDC, the Rotary club, the Masons, a group of interested parties, put together a ‘think tank’ to assess what the community as a whole would like to do for a ‘Centennial 150’ monumental project.
I of course have a hundred ideas (well, OK, maybe a dozen or so) and will put some forward in future columns. My off-the-top favourite would be to Rebuild Van Horne Avenue as our ‘Grande Allee’ – the glorious link from downtown to our someday-to-be-developed waterfront. With all wiring underground, of course, and with a wide pedestrian mall all along it with rest stops and grandstands for parades and events. The monumental part could be high-mast street lighting, the masts being sculptures, say stylized sailboats. Maybe we could throw in the amphitheatre part of the waterfront plan. Makes me shiver to picture it in my mind. (Since this piece was printed in the Observer, the city went ahead and paved the south part of Van Horne without sewer and water in place, so it will have to be dug up to advance this plan, but it is still a good plan)
Or we could submerge the city and other local governments into a new larger local government entity encompassing our whole community; perhaps we could get the fed to pay for the transition costs, also to pay for twinning and finishing the TransCanada highway the whole length of the new local government. We could call it the ‘Canada 150’ highway, and the new broader community could be named ‘Canada 150’. Or you might have a better idea.
If you believe that Dryden is doomed, then there is nothing to be done. But if you believe as I do that Dryden can resume its leadership role in northwestern Ontario; if you believe as I do that this can once again be the best place to live in the entire world, then you need to get involved, let’s do a Centennial Project.
(Entire world??, you ask. Then I ask, have you watched Toronto weather on The Weather Channel this winter? Any beheadings happening in your neighbourhood?)

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