To the Editor,
In November 1993, the first plan was put together to guide the development of the McLean Mill National Historic Site. The agreement between the city and federal government that set the city to run it for 42 years and government provide one-time capital funding of $2.6 million was signed in 1996. Now the McLean Mill Society is going to deliver yet another plan.
National historic sites are a service that small cities cannot afford, and should not have to, and usually don’t. Why? Because National historic sites are for all Canadians. Perhaps that is at the root of why the past 26 years have been so difficult.
In the Niagara region of Ontario, Fort George National Historic Site attracts millions of visitors a year, is a large contributor to the local economy, and is run and maintained by Parks Canada.
A Society called “Friends of Fort George” holds fundraisers, gets grants, hires students, and runs a gift shop but all of the infrastructure and permanent staffing is Parks Canada’s responsibility.
It’s time McLean Mill was the same.
If 26 years has taught us anything it should be that despite all the best intentions and tireless work of volunteers, city leaders, and local business people, and many more millions in local tax dollars than government gave us, preserving old buildings and infrastructure properly using old technology in a new regulatory environment is far too much for a city of 18,000 to manage.
Stop beating around the bush with new plans that are essentially the same as the old plans.
It’s time the mayor and council call Ottawa and start negotiating a new agreement for McLean Mill National Historic Site that puts the responsibility in the right place for all of Canada to enjoy forever.