Monday 24 Oct 2016

Name that Dump
David Simmonds

Sponsorship; we’re used to thinking of it as just limited to the big ticket items: the Essroc Arena, or Highline Hall for example. But it’s spreading to smaller ticket items as well.

The Picton Business Improvement Association is now selling sponsorships.

For example, the Picton Business Improvement Association is now selling sponsorships as part of its street beautification program. For a modest one-time contribution of $2,200, a charitable gift to boot, you can have a ten-year sponsorship of a cast aluminum bench. For $750, you can sponsor a cigarette ash receptacle for five years. You can sponsor flags and flowers, annually, for $300. Or if you have a onger term view, you can sponsor a three-panel ”recycling centre” at a cost estimated at $1,650 plus shipping and handling and HST for life, that is, the life of the recycling centre. In every case, your donation will be recognized by an appropriately sized and tastefully worded plaque.

Take another example. If you want to dedicate a few metres of the newly refurbished and publicly owned Millennium Trail, the Rotary Club of Wellington will accept your donation at $10 per metre, with a $50 minimum for a recognition plaque.

Now these are not municipal sponsorships - you can’t sponsor a Picton parking meter, for example, because it’s a County asset, not a BIA asset. Yet, I wonder if broader scale municipal sponsorships aren’t just a short distance down the road. After all, if we don’t want to sell our public buildings and don’t want to raise taxes, what alternatives do we have besides using them more intensively at greater cost to users.

The City of Ottawa, for example, just this June launched its “Community Champions” program, where or as little as $5,000 per year you can be recognized by the City and at the same time sponsor a wading pool, judo programme or public transit timetable. In terms of moral justification for private sponsorship of public endeavours, a very sanguine Ottawa councillor Jan Harder is quoted as saying that while any renaming will continue to reflect community values, “if Pepsi or a high tech company or Waste Management wants to have their names over the diving pool at the Nepean Sportsplex, that’s A-OK with me.” Ah yes, diving head first into the Waste Management Pool: what could be more refreshing on a summer afternoon?

So is it only a matter of time before the County dips its toes more deeply into the waters of corporate sponsorship? A few moments thought yield a positive answer.

County misses opportunity not naming new sewage treatment plant.

The County passed up a corporate naming opportunity in early 2011, when the new Picton sewage treatment facility was named to honour the late former public works commissioner Steve Carroll. Then again, it is doubtful that anyone would pay to be associated with a less than glamorous facility that ended up costing 300 per cent of its budget.

Stooping at a lowbrow threshold, we might consider naming a facility after our esteemed local MP, who after all, was instrumental in getting an extra $1 million cash and a $10 million loan on favourable terms for the Picton sewage plant. Although I’m not sure that naming the Wellington sewage treatment plant the “Daryl Kramp Municipal Waste Facility” is the most felicitous combination of words, the suggestion might induce more federal money to flow into the County, if only to ensure that the plant never bore that name. Besides, if he sticks around federal politics for another ten years or so, he’ll probably get a galaxy or something equally big named after him.

Still, we’ve got lots of other opportunities, just in Wellington alone. Why not sell the naming rights to the Wellington Town Hall, for example? What local business would not want to trumpet that it is “as upstanding as the citizens of Wellington itself”? And is there any facility more valuable to us than the Wellington Dump? Wouldn’t some retail enterprise like Costco like to advertise something like “it all ends up here eventually, so you might as well buy it from us”? Or take the Cemetery: a furniture company would love to say it crafts “long lasting, elegant places of repose.

Am I thinking too big? How about a municipal tax bill sponsored by an accounting firm: “we told you should have come to us”? Or a parking space sponsored by the business right beside it, “step right in: we know you don’t want to walk”

Revenue opportunities exist, look, seek, find.

The revenue opportunities are clearly out there. Mayor Peter Mertens tells me the County has nothing in the cards, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see those cards changing, and that dump-naming opportunity snapped up like a Toronto Maple Leaf playoff ticket.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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