Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Will Saint John Continue to Turn its Back on its Heritage ... and its Old Friends?

News Item, Telegraph Journal - Wildlife Officials of cash-strapped facility say it may be in jeopardy without stable support - Common council wants surrounding municipalities to help fund the financially strapped Cherry Brook Zoo .. more ...

The Cherry Brook Zoo's financial woes are back in the news and I continue to wonder if the "movers-and-shakers" in Saint John really understand that in their excitement to create THEIR vision of the future, they are turning their back on the colourful history and heritage of a city that is one of the important foundations of our culture in Southwestern New Brunswick.

Saint John is no longer the "Loyalist City", the Reversing Falls are about to spiral down in a "Vortex" and the "Loyalist Man" replacement looks more like "Clip Art Man" with a serious back problem. And with the old hospital gone, the skyline has gone from interesting and dynamic to condo heaven.

I remember when the Hungarian refugees arrived in Saint John many, many years ago. It was winter and the city looked dismal. I suspect that many tears flowed as the arrivals questioned their choice of this bleak and dismal land. The City is changing, that is for certain and in may ways that is a good thing as the old city becomes alive again. The harbour-front trail system is spectacular, the condos are well designed and attractive, the new plantings along Route 1 are beautiful, and future plans are encouraging. But turning your backs on your history, heritage, and old friends is not!

The Cherry Brook Zoo is an important component of Saint John and people from other areas as well. We come, we pay our admission, and some of us donate. But the City of Saint John is ultimately responsible. To suggest that somehow the poor of the city will suffer if the paltry $175,000 annual need is provided to the Zoo is a cheap shot of the lowest order.

Get it together Saint John! If you think that you are building a modern, dynamic city then realize that you have to take care of the entire fabric not just the gaudy and slippery silks.

Art MacKay