Marco Polo Project Saint John New Brunswick

The Marco Polo rest anchor in the Mersey near Liverpool, England- by Thomas Dove

Canada's Deputy Prime Minister has come up with another reason why Marco Polo replica won't be funded one that's new to the ears of the project organizer

Times Globe staff writer

   Barry Ogden knows pretty well everything there is to know about the Marco Polo sailing ship - except the government's latest explanation for why his pet project didn't get Millennium Fund money earlier this year.
    Ottawa couldn't ensure that the $2 million project would be completed by March 31, 2001, says Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray.
    In a letter to the Times Globe that arrived yesterday, Mr. Gray says one of the criteria for receiving partial funding is that all projects be completed by the end of next March.
    "Since the Marco Polo project proposal and conversations between Millennium Bureau staff and the project organizer indicated that many deciding factors in the project's completion including an agreement on the site for the replica - were not in place, it was not possible to ensure that this project would be completed by March 31, 2001," he writes.
    That's news to Mr. Ogden.
    "We weren't given any reason because we met all the criteria,'' he said yesterday. "But we know what we are doing. We could build it in nine months." If he were given the funding soon, he thinks he could still get the project done by the deadline.
    For 14 years, M r. Ogden has struggled to have a replica of the Marco Polo sailing ship built in Saint John. He was hoping this was the victory year for the project, which would see a non-sailing replica of Saint John's most famous ship constructed on land near the city's waterfront.
    In May, Ottawa announced it had turned down the project.
    Mr. Ogden says it's true that the location for the replica had yet to be determined. But that was a decision that involved a lot of levels of government and agencies, and depended on the implementation of the strategic plan for Saint John's waterfront, released last September.
    One of the central themes of the plan is increasing public access to the water through a series of parks, historic sites and lookouts - connected by walking trails.
    "The wheels are moving extremely slowly," said Mr. Ogden, referring to the plan. "A plan is not worth anything if people don't do something with it. But there are so many players in the waterfront development, but no co-ordination. I'm not blaming anyone because there are so many players. But this doesn't get done without doers behind it.
    "In the meantime, we are losing opportunities. "
At the time the waterfront development report was released, Mayor Shirley McAlary said she wanted to hired a waterfront champion to power the plan into reality. In February, council voted to give $80,000 to the Saint John Development Corporation to hire a person before summer who would co-ordinate the implementation of the plan. The development corporation has yet to announce it has filled the position.
    The announcement by Ottawa that it was turning down federal funding to the Marco Polo project drew calls of political interference from Saint John MP Elsie Wayne.

Letters to the Editor
These letter were taken from the Times Globe paper a local Saint John newspaper.

Why the project didn't float

    I am writing in response to your May 23rd article,
"Feds say no to Marco Polo."
    In your article, Barry Ogden expresses disappointment that the Canada Millennium Partnership Program (CMPP) did not support the building of a replica of the Marco Polo.
    The CMPP provides partial funding to organizations from coast to coast whose projects meet the program's criteria. One of those criteria was that projects be completed by March 31, 2001. Since the Marco Polo project proposal and conversations between Millennium Bureau staff and the project organizer indicated that many deciding factors in the project's completion - including an agreement on the site for the replica - were not in place, it was not possible to ensure that this project would be completed by March 31, 2001. For this reason, the project could not receive CMMP support.
    Your article also said that Elsie Wayne, MP, called this a "political" decision. She is mistaken.
    While it is true that more projects were approved for partial CMPP funding in Moncton and Fredericton than in Saint John, it is also true that the program received more applications for funding from Moncton and Fredericton. It is not surprising, therefore, that more projects were approved for partial funding in those cities.
    In fact, while the CMPP is partially supporting more projects in Moncton than in Saint John, the same total amount of money is being provided to eligible projects in each of these ridings - $393,887 for projects in Moncton, and $393,703 for projects Saint John. $766,351 is being provided for projects Fredericton.
    As the consequence of partial support from the CMPP, several millennium projects in Saint John are currently being developed. For instance, the group Visit Canada Visitez will develop a 1.5-kilometre walking trail depicting Canada's provinces and territories. This project will also include a site to honour Canada's war veterans, an entrance in tribute to the First Nations people, and a series of murals profiling Saint John as Canada's first incorporated city.

The HON. HERB GRAY, MP Deputy Prime Minister

Tall Ships 2000 - Baltimore
Some Grade 3 Students at Island View School would like to see the Marco Polo floating again like these tall ships near Baltimore, Md.

Children want to see new Marco Polo built.

   Please find enclosed letters my students have written to Mrs. Elsie Wayne with copies sent to Mr. Barry Ogden. The children have studied the history of Saint John intensely this year and have completed a musical production relating to our city. They feel strongly about the rebuilding of the Marco Polo and its historical importance to the city and this is their way of showing their support. I thought they may like to see some of their comments in your paper.

Grade 3 Island View School

    To whom it may concern:
    I was very disappointed to hear that the government of Canada refused to give money to support the Marco Polo II project. As part of my Grade 3 Social Studies project I did a research paper on the Marco Polo. I was amazed at the importance the Marco Polo played in the history of Saint John and Canada. She was a proud symbol of our Maritime history.
    As a young Canadian I feel it is important to look at our past and relive our proudest moments. Being "the fastest ship in the world" is definitely one of those moments.
    I strongly support Mr. Ogden in his dream to build the Marco Polo II.

   To whom it may concern,
    I hope you will be able to find another way to get money for the Marco Polo project. I like ships and would like to see the Marco Polo rebuilt.
    The people have worked hard for money and I would like it to come to reality.

   To whom it may concern,
    I am a student from Island View School and I would like to have the Marco Polo II built! We would like for our city to be famous again! It would be a great project because we are the oldest city in Canada.

    To whom it may concern,
    The Marco Polo was the fastest ship in the world. I'm in Grade 3. We are doing a play in our school and we sing a song about the Marco Polo... My class would like it made again too.