OUT OF THE
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
By ERIN DWYER
Times Globe staff
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
Ottawa couldn't ensure that the $2 million project
would be completed by March 31, 2001, says Deputy Prime Minister Herb
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
"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
"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
"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
These letter were taken from the Times Globe
paper a local Saint John newspaper.
Why the project didn't
writing in response to your May 23rd article,
"Feds say no to Marco
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.
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.
article also said that Elsie Wayne, MP, called this a "political" decision. She
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
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
Some Grade 3 Students at Island View School would like
to see the Marco Polo floating again like these tall ships near Baltimore,
Children want to see new Marco
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
Grade 3 Island View School
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
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.
support Mr. Ogden in his dream to build the Marco Polo II.
To whom it may
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.
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