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Ontario funding for 1812 Bicentennial

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  • James Yaworsky
    ... [snip] I believe that difficult budgets may result in ... My take on this is that decisions to spend scarce funding for heritage properties is always
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 19, 2009
      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Hurlbut" <hurlbut8646@...> wrote:
      I believe that difficult budgets may result in
      > crumbling structures as what available monies are directed in the perceived > best way to keep the facilities functioning. But I do think it tragic if the > bicentennial money is perceived as a means to make up for years of neglect > (at whatever layer of administration is responsible) as I think the money
      > should go to making something new and lasting.

      My take on this is that decisions to spend scarce funding for heritage properties is always potentially a political hot-potato. It is simply easier, politically, to spend money on War of 1812-related sites when the public (i.e. the taxpayer/voter) is a little more attuned to the value and wisdom of spending money on such sites. Which is what the public relations value of the bicentennial is all about.

      So, it seems logical to me that we, the 1812 community, can expect a few new things, and a few older things fixed up while the political climate is favourable. That's just the way things work.

      Should it be that way? In the perfect universe, there'd be cash available for every conceivable worthwhile project, from cutting-edge medical services in even the smallest hamlet, to research to rid us of our dependency on fossil fuels that would produce results in months instead of years or decades, funding of fabulous art galleries, dance schools, bike paths, NHL-sized hockey arenas in every community, etc. etc. etc. - and finally, of course, funding to appropriate commemorations of every important historic event that ever occurred.

      But, there ain't that much cash available, and never will be! Which is why the heritage community should be glad when the politicians *do* throw some serious bucks in our direction.

      > However, if promoted properly, I do believe re-enactments are cost effective
      > in bringing folks to the sites. (I think I can say this because I have
      > organised and run some successful events.)
      > And as a re-enactor, this is the best way I can help with the bicentennial.

      Agreed, although politically only so much money would ever be spent on something as transitory in nature as re-enactments.

      For that matter, there is only so much money that can even be deployed in such activities. There are only so many people out there who are desirous of being a re-enactor and are willing to do the work to get proper gear and proper training. The kind of money being tossed around for the bicentennial in Ontario could never be absorbed by just reenactment-related projects.

      And, there are members of this group - and of the "1812 community" - who are not *primarily* re-enactors. I think it behooves all of us to try and see the "big picture", as well as whatever our "pet interest" might be. Perhaps in any given area, money might be available to fix up and rehabilitate an existing site, but asking for money to throw a large re-enactment isn't going to work. So, it might be smarter for re-enactors in that locale to get behind the existing site's project...

      If a proper and representative area committee has decided to focus on two or three projects, then it might be smart for everyone in that area to get behind the game plan, rather than get their nose out of joint and stomp off because their particular vision wasn't picked - even if they are absolutely convinced they are right and the majority are being shortsighted and are "wrong". "Something" is better than "nothing"!


      > To suggest however, that the direction of this money shouldn't be questioned
      > and rather be supportive of where it is going in the hopes that more will
      > follow forgets the fact that this is being funded by the tax payer. It is
      > our money.

      The direction of this money is being established by the area committees, which are open to input from the "players" in their area. From what people like Dave Brunelle are telling us, this process is open to positive input from concerned citizens, and in some respects is still open to further input, even though we are now getting quite close to 2012.

      So - get involved if you are so inclined! It hardly seems fair to be second-guessing what is being done, and finding it inadequate, if the criticizer has not bothered to get involved in the process that produced the plan...

      And, let's say we think some aspect of an area's plan is not the best use of "our money" - then what? Should we contact our MPP and try and torpedo the plan? What good would that do?

      > Check out this web site to see some of the submitted proposals:
      > http://fortyork.ca/1812_Submission.pdf
      > Some look really good and fall within the spirit of my idea for the purpose
      > of the money and some do not. Some are about repairing "infrastructure" pure
      > and simple. If it is necessary to save our sites with this sort of special
      > funding then maybe the tercentennial will have to be moved up ;-)

      Thanks for posting this url, Tom. I read the document and I have to say that there is some rather obvious "piggy-backing" of some proposed projects that have a very tenuous link to the War of 1812 going on here. I'll restrict my comments to my local area.

      Looking at Windsor/Essex, the Bellevue mansion is post war and while it is a very significant (and beautiful) building, it seems to me that the logical "Amherstburg" 1812 project is currently sitting in a harbour in Rhode Island and is now being called the "Oliver Hazard Perry"... But, the bicentennial funding was too late to save the H.M.S. Detroit project... such is life.

      As for Windsor, we've needed a new municipal museum here for decades but linking it to War of 1812 commemoration is quite simply a wild stretch. Still, the City of Windsor has a sizable cash nest-egg available of its own to throw at this proposal, so it might happen.

      Personally, I would have suggested the best War of 1812 project still available down here would have been to expand Fort Malden's grounds and accelerate the long-term plan Parks Canada has for the site. Fort Malden needs more land to become a viable site for reenactments. This land can come from expropriating some private properties that actually encroach on what was once the fort, and by transferring other public lands that are currently owned by the municipality and the school board.

      However, it seems that Fort Malden expansion is not in the cards. So should I, as a resident of Windsor/Essex, bitch at what *is* in the plan, perhaps even try and derail some or all of it; or should I try and get behind it and see some significant improvements to the heritage infrastructure in this area actually happen? To phrase the question in this way is to get the only logical answer, I suggest...

      The government has recognized for a bunch of reasons, some valid, some "political", that it should spend some money commemorating the War of 1812. This is one government spending spree that I for one actually agree with! If this will create some new sites/attractions, and prop up some existing ones, then I for one am happy.

      > Thanks Jim for letting me finish what I've (unfortunately) started. I'm not
      > sure this has much to do with 1812 anymore. (Sigh!)

      Hey,Tom - this sort of discussion is what this group is supposed to be all about. In my opinion, it has *everything* to do with 1812! Thank *you* for getting us on this topic. I know it's made me think about these important issues, I hope it's had the same effect on many other list members.

      Jim Yaworsky
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