How to kill a province

Hi, my name is Ontario.
I have a variety of interests both outdoor and indoor. I feel at home in a variety of climates; blustery grey days in Ottawa, frigid white winters on James Bay, humid summer afternoons in Muskoka. I am especially fond of basking on beaches like Wasaga. Sure there are people hanging around all these places, almost every part of me. But what really gives me life are the many visitors. I don’t know where they come from but I know they are here to see me – I wouldn’t want to let them down.

Ontarians sometimes forget just how important these guests are to us. Without people making the trip to boat and fish in our Great Lakes, drop by our theatres and opera houses, drink in our Maple Syrup Festivals … where would be? And more materialistically, how would we exist? The Holland Marsh is great and capable of great things but we cannot survive on that alone.

So, it puzzles me how we expect to flourish let alone survive while hacking away some prominent boughs. My largest city, Toronto, is being squashed by a large American made truck who sees little value in libraries/a literate populace. Making transport decisions which may make the city more or less user friendly, time will tell. Education is limited by cashflow, which is limited by this whole cycle.. and now you tell me we’re going to cut up and sell our jewelry to the highest bidder?

Wait, haven’t we done this before: PetroCanada, Ontario Hydro ? Those worked out so well..

What makes you think that closing and selling our assets will help me? After the Caterpillar catastrophe do you really think a California-based cruise company will have our best interests in mind? And who in their right mind would expect an overnight profit after years of neglect? Well that seems to be what’s happening on the water here; give $10 million for upgrades, attendance doesn’t double the next year, you decide it’s a waste of time. Feel free to correct my math.

Come on Canada, I’m just one province. I’ve seen better days, I can work it out but I need patience and support. I’ve got a lot of people depending on me and a lot of minds to please. It’s not easy. You know in 2010 I was North America’s top producer of automobiles.. now look at me. What am I going to do if people stop visiting? I can’t exactly go out and look for work, can I?

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Original articles: Ontario Place
http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1136753–employees-and-supporters-rally-to-keep-ontario-place-open?bn=1

   Employees and supporters rally to keep Ontario Place open

Published On Sat Feb 25 2012

Jesse McLean Staff Reporter

More than 100 Ontario Place employees and supporters called on the province to keep the waterfront facility open while a panel tries to find ways to rejuvenate the underused landmark.

The government’s recent decision to shutter the money-losing park is short-sighted, the protesters said, pointing out the closure comes less than a year after $10 million was invested for new rides and upgrades.

“After years of neglect, they actually invested some money into it. They were turning the park around and now they’re going to close it without giving a chance for those investments to take effect,” said Eddy Almeida, a vice-president and treasurer with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Ridership of the park’s amusement rides increased to 2.3 million in 2011 from 1.5 million in 2010 — the largest percentage increase in the facility’s history, the rally’s organizers said.

“Closing it is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Almeida said.

However, former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, who was chosen to lead the latest attempt at rejuvenating the park, said the financial reality just doesn’t support keeping it open during the revitalization process.

The government gives Ontario Place about $20 million a year in subsidies, Tory said.

“If you’re having trouble paying for health care and education, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to put $20 million a year into subsidizing an attraction with a decreasing number of visitors,” he said.

“It’s time to stop, take stock and make good with the revitalization.”

Ontario Place, dubbed by a newspaper report as a “waterfront tiara” when it opened in 1971, has since lost its shine.

It hasn’t turned a profit since its inaugural season. Attendance has sunk from 2.5 million in its heyday to roughly a million visitors per year — about half of whom are walking through the park simply to get to the privately run Molson Amphitheatre.

Facing a $16 billion deficit, the province announced it was closing the park until at least 2017. By shuttering the water park, amusement rides and the iconic Cinesphere — and eliminating at least 48 full-time jobs and 600 summer positions in the process — Queen’s Park predicted it could save $20 million a year.

Jaime Carnevale, who has worked at Ontario Place for eight years, compared the current plan to close the site to “spending millions of dollars on a car just to put it in the garage.”

She said a better plan would be to include the workers in the revitalization. Carnevale oversaw the overhaul of the park’s solid waste removal system. Ontario Place saved almost $100,000 by selling its recyclables, such as glass or cardboard, she said.

“For so long, we’ve had to stretch a dollar into $10,” she said. “We just want to be here for the revitalization. We want to participate in it.”

The privately run attractions, such as the Atlantis pavillion, the Amphitheatre and the marina, will remain open during the rejuvenation process.

Eb Zeidler, the architect who designed the futuristic waterfront park in the late 1960s, urged Tory and those on the revitalization team to make the park once again “the honour of Ontario.”

“It’s not that it can’t be rectified. It needs a strong hand and vision to do it.”

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Maid of the Mist original article: http://www.canada.com/travel/boat+company+bumps+Niagara+Falls+iconic+Maid+Mist/6200097/story.html

New boat company bumps Niagara Falls’ iconic Maid of the Mist

By Sheila Dabu Nonato, Postmedia News February 29, 2012

Sporting the Maid of the Mist’s trademark royal blue ponchos, the late Princess Diana and her young sons boarded Canada’s celebrated Niagara Falls tour ship in 1991, bolstering its historic list of famous guests.

Yet the 165-year-old boat tour businessâ which has carried politicians, royalty, Hollywood stars and countless other tourists, could soon be ferrying its last group of passengers near the falls, one of Canada’s premier tourist attractions.

The Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company was recently passed over for a California-based cruise company, which was awarded a 30-year lease by the Niagara Parks Commission.

More than one million visitors have experienced the “up close” boat tour of the Falls, including the future King Edward VII, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe in 1950 when she filmed the movie “Niagara.”

In a statement Wednesday, the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company Ltd. said its bid for a renewal of its lease with the Niagara Parks Commission has been rejected by the Ontario government.

“As a result of this decision, our business, with a 165-year history of service to tourists from around the world, may soon come to an end,” said company president Christopher Glynn in the statement.

Maid of the Mist has been a Glynn family business since 1971.

Glynn said it is not certain whether a boat tour service will be offered this year. The Maid of the Mist has two more years to run tours until the new boat operator’s contract begins in the Spring 2014.

“We are carefully assessing our position and will be consulting with other affected parties as we attempt to address the many serious issues resulting from this decision,” Glynn said in a statement.

The Maid of the Mist Company could not be reached for further comment.

In the face of public concerns over awarding an untendered contract to Maid of the Mist, the Niagara Parks Commission opened a competitive bidding process for the boat tours in August 2010. A Fairness Commissioner was hired to oversee the bidding process.

“The agreement provides better-value-for-money for Ontarians and will bring new investment to the Niagara Region,” the Niagara Parks Commission said in a statement.

“It not only marks the beginning of a new era for all of us, but it continues to build on what Niagara and Niagara Parks is all about, building memories and creating experiences that will last a lifetime,” said commission chair Janice Thomson.

Kim Craitor, Liberal MPP for Niagara Falls, said he’s “disappointed” to hear Maid of the Mist may not finish the last two years of its contract.

Craitor said he’s sympathetic to the Glynns because of their long-standing community contributions. But he added that the process of giving an untendered contract is “totally inappropriate.”

This is the first time that the Niagara Parks Commission has undertaken a procurement process, he said.

“I’m staggered the amount of revenue the (Niagara Parks Commission) is going to make. I’m sitting here thinking how much could they have been making all this time but it’s water over the falls now,” Craitor said.

“I just hope it’s a knee-jerk reaction,” Craitor said, referring to Glynn’s suggestion that the tour may not operate in 2012. “They’re an important asset to the community and have (provided) great service for all these years.”

Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, said he hopes Maid of the Mist continues to run until 2014.

“It would be a shame because it’s one of our most popular attractions in the city,” he said.

“I could see how their nose could be out of joint, but I’m sure when the sun sets, businesses are motivated about making money,” Diodati said, adding Maid of the Mist has had a “great reputation for safety and providing a great attraction.”

The Niagara Parks Commission is an agency of Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture, but it relies upon tourism dollars to operate, not public funds, he said.

According to Craitor, the issue of competitive bidding first arose when a U.S. company asked if it could place a bid on the Niagara Falls tour boat contract.

Craitor he said he and others soon discovered that the 25-year contract awarded to Maid of the Mist in 2008 was given without competition, prompting calls for a public bidding process.

The winning bid from Hornblower Canada Company is forecast to generate more than $500 million in revenue, an increase of more than $300 million compared to past agreements.

The contract will guarantee a minimum $67 million in revenue in the first five years, and the company will upgrade passenger facilities and build new boats.

The first Maid of the Mist, which was a side wheel steamboat ferry with twin smokestacks, sailed from 1846 until 1854.

The boat was replaced and upgraded 11 times over the years. In 1997 a 145-tonne, steel double-decker boat with room for 600 passengers was christened the “Maid of the Mist VII.”

snonato@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/SheilaNonato

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News
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About yolandalenin

I talk a lot. ______________________________________________________________________ I write even more.
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