Slow talks sank Marco
Polo, says developer
LOSING OUT: Barry Ogden says
the project may have received millennium funding if the city was further along
in its waterfront plan.
By SANDRA DAVIS
If the city had its waterfront development plan in place,
Marco Polo project developer Barry Ogden has no doubt that he would have
received millennium funding to build the replica sailing
"It comes down to the land issue," Mr. Ogden said
Friday after hearing about government documents that reveal the $1.2-million
proposal was rejected because federal officials were not convinced the project
would be built before the Canadian Millennium Partnership Program expires in
March of next year.
"In one sense, it's not all their
[the millennium officials] fault because we're acting very slowly on the
waterfront development. And because we're going very slowly there, we're losing
"All these studies and all this talk, if
you don't act, it's worth nothing.
"This could be done in
nine months. The land is the issue."
The documents, which
were obtained by the Times Globe under the Access to Information Act, also show
that officials were not convinced the money could be found. Without ownership
of the land for the project, millennium officials said the project was only at
a "developmental stage."
Federal evaluator Horan Patrick
also noted in the report that the city 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.
Mr. Ogden says while
the group didn't include specific plans for raising the additional $200,000, it
would not have been difficult to find the funds considering the donations they
have received in the past.
"People don't realize we've
probably had $1.2 million eaten up in studies and design work ... most of that
was raised privately," he said, adding that he thinks the credibility of his
organization has been proven over the last decade.
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 form. The study, completed by
Godfrey Associates in October, estimated the replica would cost $2.755-million
Phase one, which included the construction of
the 280-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
The estimate did not account for the
acquisition of land.
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
The actual submission for funding altered the
estimates to four items: foundation $245,000; masts and rigging $789,000;
decorative items $83,000 and painting $83,000.
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 estimates in the document.
Mr. Ogden says costs
estimated by the funding proposal are different from the Godfrey study because
the study included building the interpretation centre and other phase two
construction whereas their proposal did not.
on what you look at," he said. "They included the interpretation centre and
other amenities around the Marco Polo which could have come later after the
vessel was built."
"When you get the vessel built other
things will follow," Mr. Ogden continued. "It would be a catalyst to getting
other things going."
He says you need attractions to get
people to visit the city, and once they begin coming the funds to build the
remainder of the project will surface.
"Nova Scotia is
having its largest tourist event in history on the water front," Mr. Ogden
said. "It's all about tall ships, and where are we?"
Marco Polo project has been on the table for 12 years.
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