One of our mayoralty candidates recently referred to our fine city as a ‘hockey town’ as an excuse not to fund the arts. The funding would have to wait until we attracted more people and jobs to our city that is Just North Enough to be Perfect. Fair enough, if we want to attract hockey players.
It may be that this hopeful simply likes hockey metaphors. A quick display of excellent stickhandling got us off this topic. Judging from the recent council meetings, the new mayor may need a referee’s whistle to keep order. Perhaps it is just this council’s last few parting jibes at each other as they give and take verbal slap shots from the benches.
Those elusive entrepreneurs we are trying to attract (not using the ‘Trap’) are supposedly looking for a lifestyle that will draw or keep technicians, engineers and skilled workers to a place where they can play hockey (International rules). These business people, whose only exposure to hockey may have been Andy Griffith’s hilarious description of a hockey game, are not going to be impressed with that image.
The workers they will recruit are more probably young people who have much different tastes in recreation and leisure. They might just be more interested in our health and education facilities. And maybe the Arts.
Don’t send me to the penalty box - we still need the playing fields and ice rinks. As one who played hockey for more than 50 years, I love the game. I even watched the Stanley Cup finals this spring. But with Gretzsky and Messier gone, I don’t get much pleasure seeing millionaires playing their WWF version of the game. Promoting hockey as an industry for our city is unlikely. We already have enough Tim Horton’s and Don Cherry’s. Who were those Centennials anyway?
The old story of a northern mayor trying to pitch their town as location for a new business and gets the rebuff “I’ve heard that all that ever comes from Cobalt are hockey players and harlots!” The indignant mayor says, “My mother comes from Cobalt!” to which the southerner replies, “And what position did she play?” I’m not sure why it was always Cobalt that was the brunt of this story, but why are we selling our city as a hockey town?
We need to create an image not solely based on sports, rippling summer lakes and sticky, stinking shadflies. We should be back-checking with the facts that we are technology driven, well educated and keen to support all the facets of community that will make us great. Let’s promote our remote surgery, our Education Centre, our cultural diversity. Let’s point out that we are still on-side and do not look like the environs of the GTA or Barrie with row upon row of crowded housing blighting the escarpment (yet) like fans in the stands.
Maybe it’s the cultural hangover after just returning from Stratford whose downtown thrives on the overflow from the performances, where thousands of dollars were being exchanged for crafts, paintings, sculptures, books, clothing and meals. There was even a sports store where they sold kayaks, bicycles and hiking gear.
The downtown mall was vibrant, featuring a Cancer Society quilt display. (By the way, one of the best quilts was from North Bay.) Shakespeare and Shaw have been taken, but is there still an opportunity for music or dance, modern theatre, a school of fine arts in North Bay? Let’s not drop the puck on this!
There might even be some well-paid jobs in the arts and culture scene. Maybe not as lucrative as hockey, but if you look around for world-renown artists and hockey players from the North Bay area; guess what - maybe we should be investing more in the arts community.