Messing in the North…

By  | June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Posts by M. Boilard

Over the past couple of weeks, the little town of Hornepayne (pop. 1200 strong) has been desperate to reach southern ears, and to that end, have been using The Cambridge Advocate as a sounding board. I’d like to suggest that they chose well in the Advocate, as it has turned the Waterloo Region upside down with its unique, on-line prowess of presenting facts, news stories, creative writing and strong opinions… all put forward by the public itself. Where conventional press in Southern Ontario prefers to shape public perception; the Advocate IS public perception.

The press in Northern Ontario however, seems to be a different animal, apart from their southern cousins. They seem much less politically motivated and more human. Currently, they are jumping all over the Hornepayne Story, as they recognize it as insight into a disturbing trend of political interference in the lifestyles of our northern communities. As objectionable as this trend is, what is even more distasteful is lack of accountability shown towards the consequences of these government actions.

Do I smell rat in Queen’s Park?

This is how I understand this story, and I encourage our northern neighbours to correct me if I am wrong.

Some 30 years ago our provincial government, with partners and fistfuls of Federal, Provincial and private funds, hatched a plan that would see a large complex built that would house the heart of a small northern town … this heart being the majority of its businesses and public amenities. Today, this complex holds hostage this community’s gym, swimming pool, library, health unit, post office, teen drop-in centre, high school, bank, a number of government offices, hotel, seniors’ apartments and low income apartments. Initially the concept was a good one, but after 30 years of botched management and deaf ears, that good concept went terribly wrong.

Due to the private owner’s recent bankruptcy, CN Rail – who have been tied to this complex as maintainers through a 30 year contract, have finally sighed a sigh of relief – the contract ends this September. As they want no more involvement in this losing partnership, this once Crown Corporation has given Hornepayne its death sentence in the form of eviction notices… everyone must leave the building.

You see, this community only played host to this scheme; they do not own or run the complex…and it appears at this point in time, ownership is strictly left to guesswork, as all those who played part in its making are now walking or, running away. Currently our Provincial politicians are huddled somewhere deep in thought, trying to figure out how to resolve this situation without really getting involved. Guaranteed, by the time they sort this one out, the 4 months reprieve the Town does have will have long past, and the good people of Hornepayne will have had their Town pulled right out from under them. Home, to a good many complex dwellers, will be the cold October streets.

Will our great leaders be the white knights in this case, and go charging up north on their high horses to aide Hornepayne at the last minute, or will they actually ignore these Ontarians as their Town is squeezed right out from under them?

As someone living in Southern Ontario, safe in numbers and votes, I am ashamed of my government at this point in time. I will follow this story carefully and vote accordingly come Election Day.




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