Tay council hears from water museum pitcher

·3 min read

Even the smallest drop can help make waves.

A delegation from Dan Travers of the Canadian Museum of Water/Musée canadien de l'eau (CMW-MCE), a recently launched initiative by locals intent on offering the history of the planet’s most precious resource through Port McNicoll, was presented to Tay council at a recent regular meeting.

“There are physical assets that make Port McNicoll the right choice,” explained Travers.

“A deepwater port; land suitable development located on Georgian Bay and close to those water networks; close to Elmvale, Ontario, which is largely considered to have the cleanest water in the entire world; and existing possession of the S.S. Keewatin – the only Edwardian steamship in the world. So why not Port McNicoll?”

Travers, a local historian, formed the CMW-MCE last year with former Keewatin curator Fred Addis. Naturalist and MidlandToday columnist David Hawke, and Spencer Gervin of the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre, have also joined the group.

“The CMW-MCE is a groundbreaking project,” Travers noted. “It’s unique in all of Canada but certainly not around the world; there are 80 other museums around the world that are part of the global water museum network (WAMU-NET). And this is a UNESCO-endorsed global network.”

Although a website-only presence is currently being offered, Travers approached Tay council with an application for a municipal grant which would help their boots-on-the-ground support for the upcoming summer season. CMW-MCE have already signed on for Portarama on the Victoria Day weekend, including participation in the parade through Port McNicoll on Saturday May 21.

“The financial plan (of $14,923) only covers our seed money for the next five months to get that boots on the ground presence within Port McNicoll. Obviously, the larger plan for the permanent museum involves millions or even tens of millions of dollars which we’ll be fundraising over the next five years,” Travers told Tay council.

“What we’re requesting, specifically, is $3,899 and if possible, a summer staff member to work with volunteers and provide tourism information at that to-be-determined Port McNicoll location.”

Typically, organizations approach council with requests for municipal grants in October, prior to budget deliberations.

Travers apologized for the off-schedule request and hoped council would understand the urgency for the group. However, it was the summer staff position which caught council’s attention.

Travers clarified, “Our hope was that we could – if Tay Township is applying for a certain number of summer students – that one of them could be seconded to us for that purpose. And keep in mind that they’d be working with the CMW-MCE but they would also be providing that base of operations for information about Tay Township, about Port McNicoll more generally. It would serve a dual purpose within that role.”

Coun. Mary Warnock asked if the group were seeking charitable status; Travers explained that they were in the process to become a not-for-profit organization with plans for charitable status in the future.

Mayor Ted Walker thanked Travis for the delegation and acknowledged the urgency for consideration of the request.

He added: “We’re all hopeful that this will be a big success down the road."

Staff will provide a report and recommendations at a future meeting of council.

Further information for the project can be found on the Canadian Museum of Water/Musee canadien de l'eau website.

The CMW-MCE grant application, financial information, and strategic plan can be found in the 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

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