Council agrees to chip in $600,000
for ship replica
The catch is that a volunteer group must produce
the other two-thirds of the $1.8- million cost. Barry Ogden thinks the
Millennium Fund might come through with the cash.
By DAVID YOUNG
council is willing to climb on board the Marco Polo to the tune of
But Mayor Shirley McAlary isn't planning to sign
any cheques right away.
In a closed-door meeting before
Christmas, the councillors agreed to contribute one-third of the costs to build
a replica of Saint John's most famous ship.
of the city's commitment for $600,000 is on the condition that the group comes
up with the other two-thirds - $1.2-million.
Polo group has applied to the federal government's Millennium Fund for
assistance. But the mayor doesn't think it will be enough.
"I believe the application that went in to the federal
government was only for $600,000," Ms. McAlary said after last night's meeting
of Common Council.
And that leaves a rather large gap in
the funding and makes the mayor skeptical about the
"It's doubtful at the moment. We have no idea
where the other money would come from," she said. That's why the committee
resolution was never brought to an open meeting of council for ratification.
Barry Ogden's been dreaming of a replica of the tall
ship for years. The Saint John High School teacher, head of the Marco Polo
Project for the past 13 years, has raised the profile of the ship both in New
Brunswick and , across Canada, fighting for a commemorative coin and stamp,
among other things.
Mr. Ogden's latest request for Common
Council funding for the replica came during a meeting in
This morning, the only word to describe his mood
"I've never felt better," he
He's confident that the federal cash is in the bag,
because the project meets all nine Millennium Fund criteria, but it will be
another couple of months before he'll know for sure.
Ogden said that if everything falls into place, Saint John could have its Marco
Polo - which he envisions being almost as tall as City Hall - within the year.
"We've had some engineering and architectural work done.
This could all be put together in nine months," he said. "We feel pretty good
If the Marco Polo does finally come into
being, he believes it'll be a catalyst for other things, like the city's plan
to spruce up Water Street. "This is the icon, the centre of it all," he says of
the Marco Polo. "This would put us on the map."
says he doesn't expect the city to kick in any more than the one-third of the
cost they've already agreed to. He is banking on other sources coming through
with money after the project gets rolling.
In its short
life, the Marco Polo was the world's fastest sailing ship. The idea of building
a replica of the 1850s sailing ship, which ran aground in an 1883 storm off
Prince Edward Island, has been floating around the Port City for more than a
In its latest form, the plan is to construct a
land-based version that could also serve as a tourist
The land-based ship would cost considerably less
than the $20-million or so needed for a full-scale sailing version of the
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