Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

Ottawa bike-sharing under new management

A Bixi bike-share station in Ottawa last June. Photo: Lucy Martin

A Bixi bike-share station in Ottawa last June. Photo: Lucy Martin

Readers may recall the Bixi bike share system in cities like Ottawa and New York City. Despite Bixi’s slew of financial and managerial problems, a recent press release suggests continued support for that form of rented transportation in Canada’s Capital region:

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is pleased to announce the transfer of its bike share program, Capital BIXI, to CycleHop, LLC, effective April 17, 2014. The new owner and operator will resume the bike share service in the core of Ottawa–Gatineau by this summer 2014, while making plans for system expansion.

CycleHop CEO Josh Squire positioned bike sharing as a plus for both residents and visitors, calling it “…a fun way to get around. It is good for your personal health, and for the health of our planet.” According to the NCC’s media release:

CycleHop is committed to doubling the size of the current program within the next few years, at its own expense. The current public bike share program serves the downtown core of Ottawa and Gatineau, with 250 bicycles at 25 locations. CycleHop also plans to work on increasing participation among individuals and corporate users, enhancing customer service, and renewing the public’s enthusiasm and support for the program.

The Ottawa Citizen says Bixi opened its very first bike share system in Montréal, with Ottawa being the second such effort, since June of 2009.

CycleHop operates bike-sharing systems in Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix, Atlanta and Louisville.

The Bixi rental season was due to begin in mid-April this year. On Thursday, the NCC said the new owner will resume the bike share service by this summer.

But Squire said it might happen sooner than that.

Earlier this week, the Montréal Gazette reported Bixi bikes are once more being rented in that city and that over 3,000 bikes should be in service by month’s end.

According to various media sources, Bixi’s international operations were recently sold to Montreal furniture manufacturer Bruno Rodi for a reported $4 million dollars.

An article about the convoluted Bixi saga in the Atlantic, makes parts of the bankruptcy mess sound almost exciting, even exotic:

Who is Rodi, anyway? Well, have you ever seen those Dos Equis ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world”? This dude gives that one a run for his money, and in real life. The owner of the furniture company Rodi, “le spécialiste du sofa,” is also a world traveler who has undertaken an almost ridiculous number of adventures and was reportedly on a boat in the Indian Ocean while the Bixi sale was going down.

They just look like a rack of clunky bikes. Apparently there’s plenty going on behind the scenes.

The loonie takes a tumble

Compared to a U.S. greenback, the Canadian dollar is currently worth about 90 cents. Photo: Lucy Martin

Compared to a U.S. greenback, the Canadian dollar is currently worth about 10 cents less. Photo: Lucy Martin

After a period of relative strength or parity, the Canadian dollar recently dropped to roughly ninety cents against one U.S. dollar. (As of Friday, at least. Rates do fluctuate.)

Those familiar with economics know the various ins and outs of such a development. For regular folks here’s how that plays out in lay terms: travel and shopping in the U.S. is now more expensive for Canadians and Canada is back “on sale” for Americans, at 10% off!

The CBC has a short “winners and losers” list here.

Why is the loonie weaker?  Those who live in that world cite things like monetary policy, commodity prices and signals from regulatory agencies, as with this dissection in the Globe and Mail on Thursday:

“Until today, the Bank of Canada had been careful not to open talk down the loonie,” chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns said late yesterday in a research note titled “BoC declares open season on loonie.”

“They effectively gave sellers the green light in today’s monetary policy report by stating that even with the big drop in recent weeks, it remained high and would still ‘pose a competitiveness challenge for Canada’s non-commodity exports,” he added.

“As if on cue, the currency promptly fell another 1 per cent on Wednesday.”

As reported by the Canadian Press, the ruling conservatives feel this can be a good thing, while political opponents say “not so fast”:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has made a point of noting that a weak dollar can spur economic growth by boosting exports — a boon for a government with its sights set squarely on balancing the books.

The loonie slid to 90.10 cents U.S. on Thursday, dipping briefly under the 90 cent mark for the first time since mid-2009. It’s lost four cents since Dec. 31 due to a combination of factors including a strengthening U.S. dollar, weak prices for commodities and Canada’s low-interest, low-inflation environment.

But the economy can’t turn so quickly to take advantage of a lower dollar, said NDP finance critic Peggy Nash. Many of manufacturing jobs that were lost under the Tories’ watch aren’t coming back.

The economy is underperforming and the Tories are “desperate to show that they can balance the books before the 2015 election and trying everything possible to do that,” Nash said.

For our region, the boom in cross-border Canadian shopping and travel may slow somewhat.

Meanwhile, merchants and travel destinations across Ontario and Quebec are hoping lots of Americans will return the favor of these familiar economic shifts. For now, at least, it’ll be “Come on over, your money buys more here!”

Financial woes for Bixi bike rentals

Rental and return station in Ottawa, July 2013. Photo: Lucy Martin

A bicycle rent and return station in Ottawa, July 2013. Photo: Lucy Martin

What if visitors and residents in key urban areas could grab, ride and return a bike – fast and easy – for a reasonable fee?

That’s the idea for a variety of fairly new enterprises in places like Montréal, Ottawa and New York City. Karen Kelly tried out Ottawa’s Bixi rental system for NCPR back in July of 2012.

As you might expect, there are pros and cons for the idea in theory and even more wrinkles in practice. Kelly found parts of Ottawa’s system confusing or inconvenient, for example. And bike stations in NYC have also spurred some criticism, as reported in the New York Times last May:

Bike share was easy for New York City to love in the abstract. It was not about adding bike lanes at the expense of something else; it was about sharing something that did not yet exist.

But with the program two weeks away, many New Yorkers have turned against bike share, and for one simple reason: They did not expect it to look like this.

But now the crucial issue is financial. As reported by the CBC the parent company recently filed for bankruptcy protection:

The company that ownsBixi — the Public Bike System Company, known in French as the Sociétéde vélos en libre-service(SVLS) — owes $50 million to various creditors, including the City of Montreal.

Coderre said rather that sinking more money into the SVLS, a private company, the city would take over Bixi’s Montreal assets. He said they are worth approximately $11 million.

It gets worse for Montréal taxpayers, as reported for the Montréal Gazette by Any Riga:

 Bixi was not supposed to cost them a cent but Montreal taxpayers could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, the city admitted Monday.

If you’re curious how company debt could run into the $50 million range, Forbes has more about that here, including sums owed in New York City and Chicago.

The story is slightly different in Ottawa, as explained in additional CBC coverage:

The National Capital Commission owns the 250 Bixi bikes and 25 Bixi stations, but the Montreal company has a contract to run the program until the end of the 2015 season.

NCC spokesperson Jean Wolff said Ottawa hasn’t been told the contract is in trouble.

“It’s too early to talk about impact … We’re pretty sure it will start as scheduled,” Wolff said.

Wolff said the program has been a success in terms of rising ridership, but concedes it hasn’t made any money.

The NCC has been trying to get some other entity to take the program over, but so far there have been no offers. It plans to go ahead as scheduled to start this year’s program on April 15.

This is not a time of year when many thoughts turn to noodling about on bicycles. But this development indicates the goal of encouraging easy cycling options may be easier to envision than to implement.

National Ice Skating championships in Ottawa and Boston

Ice dancing team Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier. Gilles was "fast-tracked" for Canadian citizenship to become eligible for Team Canada and the Sochi games. Photo: annoyedtonoend, Creative COmmons, some rights reserved

Ice dancing team Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier. Gilles was “fast-tracked” for Canadian citizenship to become eligible for Team Canada and the Sochi games. Photo: annoyedtonoend, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Serious skating fans already know this is a huge weekend for the sport, but casual spectators may not know what’s up.

The U.S. will determine its national figure skating and ice dancing champions – and the Sochi Olympic team - this weekend in Boston. Pretty much the same exercise is happening now in Ottawa, for the Canadian championships and Olympic berths.

The 100th annual National Skating Championships takes place Jan 9-15 at the Canadian Tire Centre, in Ottawa’s west end of Kanata. (In case you missed the name change, that was formerly known as Scotiabank Place. It’s the home arena for the Ottawa Senators NHL team.)

That’s close enough to attend, for interested parties out of our listening area. (Ticket info can be found here.)

Here’s the roster of the current Canadian National Team, which includes the senior ice dancing team of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

As per this item from Fox News, Gilles was born in Illinois to an American father and an American/Canadian mother. She was “fast-tracked” to Canadian Citizenship (which became official in Dec) to ensure eligibility for the Canadian Olympic team, which will be determined this weekend.  (Note: I’m no expert on how each Olympic team is chosen. Results in the National Championships are important, but may not be the only deciding factors. Specifics for the Canadian team selction are detailed in a .pdf found here.)

The 100th anniversary of the Canadian Championships is also being marked by a variety supporting events and a reunion of great Canadian skaters, as mentioned in this Ottawa Citizen article:

As part of the celebrations to mark 100th anniversary of the Canadian figure skating championships, which start Thursday (practice sessions) and continue through Sunday, some 75 past Canadian champions representing 22 Olympic medals are expected to attend.

All taking place now through this weekend, in Ottawa.

Saranac Lake hotel projects win big state support

The faded Hotel Saranac was once a centerpiece of the village economy and social life (Photo:  Susan Waters)

The faded Hotel Saranac was once a centerpiece of the village economy and social life.  A private company’s plan to redevelop the hotel won $5 million in state support today. Photo: Susan Waters

Almost ten percent of the entire North Country flow of state development dollars will flow to one small village in the Adirondacks.

Under the plan unveiled today, Saranac Lake will receive $7.1 million to promote construction and redevelopment of two hotels.

“We are thrilled and thankful for these awards and, now, an epoch of progress and prosperity is at hand for Saranac Lake,” said village Mayor Clyde Rabideau in a statement.

Saranac Lake has long been viewed as a popular visitor destination — for events like the Winter Carnival and access to the Saranac Lake chain and other outdoor destinations.

But the village has lacked modern, high-end hotel accommodations that industry experts say are needed to boost a tourism retail economy.

This funding aims to address that with support for two highly-anticipated — though also controversial — projects.

  • $5,000,000 to revitalize the Hotel Saranac, creating a full-service hotel to spur year-round tourism.
  • $2,000,000 to construct a new resort and waterfront restaurant at the former Lake Flower Hotel, and leverage private investment to diversify the region’s tourism/recreation based communities.

Chris Knight will have more on this story tomorrow morning during The EIght O’clock Hour.

Canada goes all “plastic” with new $10 and $5 bills

Specimen images of Canada's new polymer $5 and $10 banknotes.

Specimen images of Canada’s new polymer $5 and $10 banknotes.

Canada has been rolling out new polymer (plastic) currency since 2011. This past Thursday the Bank of Canada put the last two denominations into circulation: the $10 and $5 bills.

That completes the transition, as Canada doesn’t print $1 bills anymore, preferring $2 and $1 coins. Polymer $100, $50 and $20 are already in mass circulation.

While colors on Canadian bills are unchanged the look – and the feel – is noticeably different than with old “paper” bills.

Here’s what made the cut, in terms of image themes, as described by a Bank of Canada press release:

$100 Medical Innovation – celebrates Canadian innovations in the field of medicine (Portrait: Sir Robert Borden)

$50 CCGS Amundsen, Research Icebreaker – reflects Canada’s commitment to Arctic research and the development and support of northern communities (Portrait: William Lyon Mackenzie King)

$20 The Canadian National Vimy Memorial – evokes the contributions and sacrifices of Canadians in conflicts throughout our history (Portrait: HM Queen Elizabeth II)

$10 The Canadian train – represents Canada’s great engineering feat of linking its eastern and western frontiers by what was, at the time, the longest railway ever built (Portrait: Sir John A. Macdonald)

$5 Canadarm2 and Dextre – symbolizes Canada’s continuing contribution to the international space station program through robotics innovation (Portrait: Sir Wilfrid Laurier)

While the polymer bills cost more to produce, they include more security features to thwart counterfeiters and should last longer that the bills they replace.

If you travel in Canada, or handle Canadian currency in the U.S., expect to encounter these soon.

Royal watch news: Princess Anne in Kingston

The newborn Prince George made his public debut with his mother, The Duchess of Cambridge, outside St Mary's Hospital in July. Photo: Chistopher Neve, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The newborn Prince George made his public debut with his mother, The Duchess of Cambridge, outside St Mary’s Hospital in July. Photo: Chistopher Neve, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The headline is your warning: if you detest the House of Windsor and the attention they get, avert your eyes!

Of course, the big royal news this week was the christening ceremony for 3-month-old Prince George. While it was relatively small and private, there were a wealth of before and after photos, including a semi-historic photo of Queen Elizabeth II with her son, grandson and great-grandson – a generational spread last seen under Queen Victoria.

Not surprisingly, they all looked smashing. Best of all (to me anyway) is how happy mom and dad appeared in a very human circle: doting parents and a warmly awaited first child.

One cannot have a small, intimate christening if every uncle, aunt, cousin and sundry stands in attendance. So this time around, they did not.

HRH Princess Anne. Photo: University of the Highlands and Islands, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

HRH Princess Anne. Photo: University of the Highlands and Islands, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Indeed, the Princess Royal, Princess Anne was carrying on with the work of ceremonial appearances in Ontario, As reported by Canada.com’s Ruth Dunley (with photos and videos in the Ottawa Citizen):

On the day of the christening, the princess journeyed to CFB Borden, near Alliston, Ontario, where she met with various military personnel and presented the Royal Canadian Medical Service with “The Princess Royal’s Banner” — only the third time such a banner has been presented to the Canadian Armed Forces — to recognize the Service’s contributions in Afghanistan.

“Within the Canadian Forces, the medical service suffered the highest number of casualties and personnel killed in action after the Combat Arms,” Princess Anne said, according to a CTV News report. “And many of our members continue to suffer mentally.”

The Princess Royal’s visit came to Kingston on Thursday, where small crowds endured cold temperatures to mark her visit. Michael Lea covered the visit for the Kingston Whig Standard, and there’s more on schedule for today:

On Friday, Princess Anne will present a royal banner to the communications and electronics branch during a 110th anniversary parade at the Garrison Gym Field House on the base at 9:45 a.m. That is on the north side of Hwy. 2, across from the Royal Military College. At 2:25 p.m., she will view displays by various units of the branch, showing the past, present and future of military communications in Canada. That is on the McNaughton parade square, also on the north side of Hwy. 2.

You can find more images of the Princess Royal’s appearances in Kingston at the British Monarchy’s Twitter account.

It’s not all glitter and cocktails. Sometimes it’s just long hours traveling around the world to appear as symbols of continuity while highlighting the service of others.

Segue alert: Anyone can be part of service toward the greater common good. NCPR depends on down-to-earth participation from listeners and readers to deliver news and discussions. Here’s how you can help make that happen.

Peeking into museum attics

Moose, American bison and muskox skeletons in the museum's vertebrate collection. Roger Baird © Canadian Museum of Nature

Moose, American bison and muskox skeletons in the museum’s vertebrate collection. Photo: Roger Baird, courtesy Canadian Museum of Nature

Does the term “pack rat” arouse your curiosity, or give you a cold shiver?

A flurry of books, articles and even TV shows have lead to greater awareness of hoarding as a condition that ranges from mild to debilitating. Indeed, by some estimates roughly 5% of Americans, or about 15 million people, are affected by some form of hoarding disorder. Taken to excess, it’s not pretty.

But of course, collecting for a purpose can be ordered, impressive and instructive.

Those who like lots of cool stuff – especially those who enjoy natural science – may want to consider a rare opportunity in Gatineau next weekend. (That’s in Quebec, minutes across the river from Ottawa.)

The Canadian Museum of Nature is having an open house of their vast research collection Saturday Oct 19th from 10-4 at their Natural Heritage Campus facility:

Discover the impressive national collections of plants, animals, fossils and minerals, which are housed in an area equivalent to five hockey rinks! See some of our 10.5 million natural-history specimens and meet leading science experts who curate and study them.

Bring your camera and join a self-guided tour.

Reservations are not required for this free, bi-lingual event that is “especially suitable for kids”. It takes place at 1740 Pink Road, Gatineau (Aylmer sector), Quebec.

Artifact Handler Pat H

Artifact Handler Pat Hilborn explaining the significance of a model car collection. Photo: Lucy Martin

Most museums lack the space to display all their collections. Some make up for that limitation with occasional “behind the scenes” tours – which you have to know about, or watch for.

I had the pleasure of roaming the storage aisles of the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology with my local historical society last spring. The Ottawa Citizen’s Bruce Deachman wrote up what that tour is like in this April 2012 profile of artifact handler Pat Hilborn:

At last count, a few months ago, the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, which includes the Science and Tech, Aviation and Space, and Agriculture museums, held 103,568 objects in its collection, with upwards of 200 being added each year. As artifact handler, it’s Hilborn’s job to go out — about 50 times a year, he estimates, to the nation’s barns, basements, attics and garages — and collect these objects and bring them back to one of the museum’s warehouses, where they’re catalogued and studied, and every now and then put on display.

“It’s always different,” says the Manotick-raised Hilborn, “and it’s never boring. You never know what you’re going to find when you get to some houses.

Bikes climb the wall above clocks and boats at the storage facility of the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology

Bikes climb the wall above clocks and boats at the storage facility of the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology. Photo: Lucy Martin

Looking for similar insider-tour opportunities happening in the region this fall, I found one at the American Precision Museum, in Windsor VT, on Sunday, Oct 27 at 3 pm (Limited space $10 fee).

I never heard of that museum – another good reason to visit Vermont. That one-day tour, and current exhibits sound interesting:

The Museum preserves the heritage of the mechanical arts, celebrates the ingenuity of our mechanical forebears, and explores the effects of their work on our everyday lives. The American Precision Museum, housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory, now holds the largest collection of historically significant machine tools in the nation.

This museum closes for the season Oct 31. Admission is free on Sundays.

If you know of other “behind-the-scenes” tours worth mentioning, please do share.

Former Hershey’s factory could soon produce medical marijuana

 

The now-closed Hershey plant in Smiths Falls could soon be on the other side of the munchies divide--producing medical marijuana. Photo: Adam Gerhard, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

The now-closed Hershey plant in Smiths Falls could soon be on the other side of the munchies divide–producing medical marijuana. Photo: Adam Gerhard, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Smiths Falls is about an hour away from Ottawa or Ogdensburg. A town of about 9,000 inhabitants beside the scenic Rideau Canal.

For decades, one of its main claims to fame was the Hershey’s chocolate factory. As can be imagined – or remembered – that was a popular regional destination, with factory tours and a much-loved outlet store,

Hershey’s moved those operations to Mexico and closed the Smiths Falls factory in 2008, eliminating roughly 400 jobs. A potential sale to become a bottled water plant fell apart. The large factory site has simply sat idle, awaiting some new use.

This week saw a major announcement that could re-shape Smith Falls’ image once more. As reported in the Ottawa Citizen:

But for the first time since the factory shut its doors in 2008, a new business may occupy one of its eight buildings. If approved by Health Canada, medical marijuana supplier Tweed Inc. of Ottawa will transform the factory’s distribution centre into a hydroponic hub, the town’s mayor Dennis Staples confirmed Wednesday.

“The world has changed, and this is a legitimate business that (thousands of) Canadians rely on,” said mayor Dennis Staples. “It’s going to create jobs that we sorely need, and we hope that the remaining space continues to attract other tenants.”

There are a lot of hoops to jump through to grow medical marijuana for government agencies. But there are established processes to get that approval and regular demand for the product. Tweed hopes to be part of that regulated industry. (They have a FAQ page here.)

Here’s a sampling of local coverage: “Vacant Smiths Falls plant goes to pot” speaks about jobs that will include: “…growing, trimming, processing, testing, packaging and distribution”. Tweed VP Mark Zekulin says the operation will be treated as “a pharmaceutical operation”. Tweed hopes to spur additional activity at the site:

While the company is purchasing the entire plant – with a closing date of Dec. 1 – it only plans to use 180,000 square feet of the facility for the pot operation. The rest of the building’s 470,000 square feet will be rented to other manufacturers looking for smaller spaces with the unique features of the former Hershey facility.

“A priority for us is to attract other tenants for the remainder of the facility, bringing more jobs and investment to Smiths Falls,” said Zekulin.

Here’s more from the Ottawa Citizen’s James Bagnall about Tweed’s main players and why they see attractive opportunity in Canada’s shifting medical marijuana supply chain.

There’s no discussing pot without all the jokes that attach to that subject. (You know, “they’d better make chocolate again too, or they’ll be missing out on the munchie market.”) But for the many who have no appetite thanks to chemo-therapy experiencing hunger is a feature, not a bug.

And for fans of diversified agriculture, this could represent jobs in a town that needs more employment options.

As for me, I still miss the old Smith Falls Hershey’s.

Kingston Penitentiary closes with a charitable flourish

Kingston Penitentiary. Photo: Sean Marshall, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Kingston Penitentiary. Photo: Sean Marshall, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

What are the most famous – or notorious – prisons in the U.S.? Alcatraz? Sing-sing? Attica?

Well, in Canada, that distinction seems to belong to a penitentiary opened in 1835, right on the scenic lake shore of Kingston, Ontario.

You may not have heard of Kingston Penitentiary’s most famous inmates, but Canadians can collectively shudder when they think of convicted murders like Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olsen or Russell Williams. Here’s a short who’s-who of infamous inmates incarcerated there over the last 178 years, as compiled by Maclean’s Magazine.

This detailed story from the annals of CBC delves into the dark corners of the facility’s history, back when even children might see hard jail time.

The original rules for inmates stated that inmates “must not exchange a word with one another under any pretence whatever” and “must not exchange looks, wink, laugh, nod or gesticulate to each other,” with violators receiving the lash.

The original facility was a single, large limestone cellblock with 154 cells in five tiers. Those cells were 74 by 244 cm in width and 200 cm in height.

The three other wings of the main building were completed by the 1850s and the dome that connects the four cellblocks was added in 1861. It was then the largest public building in Upper Canada.

I think that cell size converts to roughly 29 by 96 inches of floor space with 79 inches of headroom. Ugh! The article includes a link for a 360 degree view of the interior of the grounds, and an interview with architectural historian Jennifer McKendry on the building’s significance. (Sorry to say this is “geo-fenced” for Canadian viewing only.) Here’s a time line of the penitentiary that should be accessible to all.

Kingston Penitentiary postcard, c. 1930. Photo: Bill Stevenson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Kingston Penitentiary postcard, c. 1930. Photo: Bill Stevenson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Women were moved out to their own prison in the 1930s. Like it or not, prisons elicit all kinds of morbid curiosity, including the question of executions. And here’s what I found on that:

While capital punishment was legal in Canada until 1976, it was only practiced until 1962. Capital executions were never carried out at Kingston Penitentiary itself, as executions were carried out at county or provincial jails.

According to that link, two inmates who killed a KP guard in an escape attempt were executed – elsewhere – for that crime in 1949.

With most inmates now transferred to other facilities, Kingston Penitentiary will officially close September 30th.  I, too, am curious about where those prisoners all went and how that was determined, but that’s research for another day.

As was mentioned by Martha Foley on Thursday’s Eight O’Clock Hour, the last hurrah for the prison as such will be public tours from October 2-20. Those are being offered as a fund raiser for the regional United Way. (That ticket sale site has a tantalizing statement that “Minimum-security work-release-offenders may still be working onsite”. )

Unfortunately for many, those tours have completely sold out.  Numerous news outlets are reporting keen interest in attaining tickets. A tricky wicket, with explicitly stipulations that tickets may not be re-sold. Writing in Thursday’s Kingston Whig-Standard, Peter Hendra recounts the difficulties organizers are coping with in the face of overwhelming response. (A faint hope for the most interested might be to volunteer to help give the tour.)

Perhaps this is a good time to mention an also-ran option: Canada’s Penitentiary Museum. It’s just across the street to help the curious grapple with this subject.

Debate continues about what to do with the prime waterfront property down the road. Back in 2012, at least, news accounts like this one by the Globe and Mail indicated it would be sold:

The site’s maintenance costs mean it could sit dormant for years, said Christian Leuprecht, a Kingston politics and economics professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University. “It’s tragic but I just don’t see alternatives,” he said. “There’s a reason the federal government is closing it, because it’s a money pit.”

As reported in March by Paul Schliesmann for the Whig-Standard, former warden Monty Bourke is among many who want to preserve and maximize at least some of that storied past, even if actual development has to include mixed use.

What Kingston doesn’t want to see, he said, is a repeat of what happened with the closing of the British Columbia Penitentiary in New Westminster and the St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary in Montreal — and now Prison for Women — which have been abandoned and fallen into disrepair.

He said the newly elected prison museum committee is dedicated to the project and members have a wealth of artifacts and knowledge to contribute.

“I’m committed to preserving the history. I’m committed to building and highlighting that connection with Kingston,” said Bourke.

“I suspect the city would support that. We’re talking benefits such as tourism. We want to be at the table.”

Did I mention it's waterfront? Kingston Penitentiary beside a busy boat harbor in 2009. Photo: Lucy Martin

Did I mention it’s waterfront? Kingston Penitentiary beside a busy boat harbor in 2009. Photo: Lucy Martin

Asked by CKWS TV about future possibilities for the federal property, Kingston and the Islands M.P. Ted Hsu replied: “Wait and see what the government does in terms of decommissioning the site so you know what state the site is in, what conditions any future owner has to abide by, for example preserving some of the heritage characteristics and then put together a business plan.”

To be determined, basically.

Kingston residents, what would you like to see there?

And, everyone else, what could happen there that might spark your interest in visiting Kingston, to experience that city’s past and present?