© DARREN CALABRESE/THE CANADIAN PRESS
STOMPIN' TOM CONNORS
Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey says Tignish Initiatives failed to meet criteria for Canadian Heritage
SKINNERS POND – Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey says Tignish Initiatives failed to meet the guidelines for Canadian Heritage funding.
The community economic development group was banking on $350,000 from Canadian Heritage to help move forward on commemoration project to honour Stompin’ Tom Connors.
The $1.94-million development was intended for the late Canadian singing icon’s boyhood home of Skinners Pond. Missing out on that piece of the funding, however, has resulted in the entire project being placed under review.
“We had signed contribution agreements with the other funders, but everything hinges on everything else, right?” Anne Arsenault, general manager of Tignish Initiatives, said in explaining what triggered the review.
Tignish Initiatives expects to learn the results of the review by the end of February.
Morrissey said he learned soon after his election in October that Tignish Initiatives didn’t meet Canadian Heritage guidelines.
“It was a pretty big piece of the puzzle for that question still to be there,” he commented.
“I was surprised, when briefed, that there were a lot of holes in the project.”
Given the outstanding questions, Morrissey said he considers the July 31 announcement by defeated Egmont MP Gail Shea that funding had been secured as “opportune.” That announcement was followed on Aug. 3, by a celebration of the project moving forward. The federal election campaign was officially launched the next day.
Morrissey said he still hopes a project can go ahead in some form once the review is completed.
Arsenault said missing out on that piece of funding could result in the other funders scaling back their contributions.
The P.E.I. government had committed $441,250 to the project, including $150,000 already spent to help move the project forward. P.E.I. Tourism Department indicated Thursday the province will wait to learn what the proponents’ plans are for the project before it decides how it will proceed.
If not for Tignish Initiatives’ good track record in economic development, Morrissey said the project might have totally collapsed with Canadian Heritage’s funding rejection.
“That’s why it’s still moving forward,” he said.
“I personally support the development of a project there that commemorates Stompin’ Tom,” Morrissey said.
He said significant questions have to be answered about the long-term viability of the project and its ability to pay ongoing maintenance and operating costs.