Rainbows appear when you mix water with the light of day.
Tay council recently approved the late application for a one-time seed grant of $3,899 to the Canadian Museum of Water/Musée canadien de l'eau (CMW-MCE), following a deputation that offers a place for the world to learn about the planet’s most precious resource.
Earlier this month, Dan Travers represented the UNESCO-endorsed global network initiative to bring a water museum to Port McNicoll, joining 80 other museums worldwide; it would tell the story of water from the earliest First Nations through the Industrial Age to modern times.
The request made of council was for assistance in a one-time grant to get the project underway, along with assistance of a summer student if possible.
While the summer student was a concern due to timing constraints and costs, and as such was withdrawn from the initial request, council found much to support in the financial option during the recent regular meeting.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” stated Coun. Sandy Talbot. “The thing I like about Dan Travers is that he’s got a lot of good people behind him; he’s one of those movers and shakers.”
Travers, a local historian, formed the CMW-MCE last year with former Keewatin curator Fred Addis, naturalist and MidlandToday columnist David Hawke, retired politician Bruce Stanton, Spencer Gervin of the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre, historian Sheena Westcott-Sykes and other prominent locals.
However, the closure of the famous SS Keewatin for this year loomed as one of several concerns shared by members of council with Coun. Paul Raymond noting that tourism to the site would be hampered by its inactivity.
“The (road to) Keewatin is closed,” stated Raymond, “so really it’s a non-issue when it comes to tourism; nobody really likes driving up to a parking lot and looking at a fenced in – it’s not a good thing to bring people into, unfortunately. The optics are not good there.”
Raymond, a supporter of CMW-MCE, also noted that grant applications outside the proper application timeframe would need to be carefully considered by the municipality, as bending policy could encourage others to apply for funding.
Other members of council responded in support of the CMW-MCE through acknowledging that the amount of $3,899 was a small enough risk for a potentially large gain.
“We can’t forget that this isn’t just about the Keewatin,” stated Mayor Ted Walker. “It’s a far bigger picture than the Keewatin.
“Coun. Raymond was right; the last couple of years it’s been blocked off, but when it wasn’t locked up we were getting a significant amount of people attending that site.”
Further issues had been addressed prior to council’s decision, including a temporary location established at the former general store location of 761 4th Avenue in Port McNicoll, and efforts for the CMW-MCE to seek status as a not-for-profit organization to gain larger funding opportunities.
Said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle, “This is our community and we have a lot of residents that are tied into this program. I think what (the CMW-MCE) is asking for this council is to support them. Short-term, possibly a long-term gain: I don’t have a problem.”
Coun. Jeff Bumstead stated that the project had large implications for the town in addition to the SS Keewatin, as it impacted area residents.
“It’s the whole culture and historic nature of this area that could be enhanced. We talk about tourism, but also the people here,” said Bumstead. “Often we share stories of the past of Tay for people, even the people who have lived here for a lot of their lives.
"The amount of excitement that that creates, and the people who get talking and sharing the stories about the history and the things in Tay…It’s at the infancy stages, but it could be something very huge. We, as Tay, should be a part of that. The ask is minimal.”
Council then approved the $3899 grant from the anticipated 2022 surplus for a one-time seed grant.
The CMW-MCE grant application, financial information, and strategic plan can be found in the previous council agenda on the township website.
Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay Township website.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca