Marco Polo Plot
Ottawa doubted final $200, 000 could be
found for $1.2-million replica project
By CAMPBELL MORRISON
OTTAWA - In addition to concerns over whether a Marco Polo
replica would actually get built on time to qualify for millennium funding,
federal officials were suspicious of the group's claims of financial
Documents obtained by the Times Globe under the
Access to Information Act show that the $1.2-million proposal was finally
rejected when its proponent could not come up with the money or a convincing
plan that it would be completed before the Canada Millennium Partnership
Program expired in March 2001.
"Without confirmation of
site ownership, your proposal is still at a developmental stage and is
therefore premature to be considered for funding under the Canada Millennium
Partnership Program," says a federal evaluation sent to Richard Oland, project
organizer of the Marco Polo Harbourfront Historical Village & Museum
"Your project describes an activity that will not
provide a finished product or deliverable until an unspecified time in the
future, whereas the Canada Millennium Partnership Program requires that it be
completed before March 2001. "
As for the money, the
evaluator, Horan Patrick, noted that the City of Saint John had pledged
$600,000, while the program was limited to giving one-third of any project, or
$400,000 in this case, leaving $200,000 unaccounted for.
"The proponent is unsure where the $200,000 difference will be found.
Also troubling, but not mentioned in the evaluation,
was an internal study that estimated the cost of the project would be more than
double the $1.2 million the proponents submitted in their application
An engineering study done by Godfrey Associates
Ltd. in October 1999, just a month before the proposal was submitted, suggested
the cost of building the giant replica of the famous 19th-century sailing
vessel that was built in Saint John would be $2.755-million. The study was done
for the Marco Polo Harbourfront Historical Village & Museum
Phase one, which included the construction of the 2
80-foot long land-based replica ship with masts reaching 170 feet in the air,
would cost $1.8-million, the engineering study estimated. The remaining costs
covered an interpretation centre, walkway system and landscaping costs in phase
The estimate did not account for the acquisition of
In phase one, the costs were estimated in the
following way: foundation, $210,000; masts and rigging, $665,500; hull and
deck, $459,500; decorative items $75,000; painting, $75,000; electrical work,
$110,000; and a contingency reserve of $200,000.
our opinion that the project, which must still be considered in a very
preliminary stage, appears to be viable at the above indicated costs and under
the assumptions made with regard to site access and foundation conditions,"
concluded the report.
The Marco Polo project has been on
the table for 12 years.
Along with Mr. Oland, whose name
heads the official application, Saint John teacher Barry Ogden has been most
closely associated with the project.
submission for funding altered the estimates to four items: foundation
$245,000; masts and rigging $789,000; decorative items $83,000 and painting
While it appears the engineering study was
appended to the submission since it was included in the federal file on the
proposal, there was no explanation for the changed
The projects many supporters also overlooked
the problems that eventually led to its rejection. Their letters were included
in the file on the Marco Polo submission.
In addition to
two letters from the City of Saint John, letters of support were also received
from Rothesay, Grand Bay- Westfield and Quisparnsis.
the political level, Saint John MP Elsie Wayne endorsed it, as did Grand
Bay-Westfield MLA Milton Sherwood.
endorsing it included the Saint John Board of Trade, Enterprise Saint John,
Uptown Saint John, Hospitality Saint John, the Saint John Airport, the New
Brunswick Historical Society, the Port of Saint John and the Rotary Club of
The article above was in
the Times Globe newspaper on Friday, July14/2000
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