On March 13, CBC revealed that Windsor is not the only community looking to gain glory well above its station in life, in order to, “… get on the map.” Windsor’s vanity saw it paying millions to cover the costs of a rich foreign organization’s swimming competition last December.
In Dunnville, near Hamilton, a stranger arrived one day offering to put its restaurants on the map by appearing on the reality television show Burger Wars. As CBC reported, when he, “… claimed to be a big-time TV producer and made big promises, the business owners jumped at the chance.”
There was a problem.
It was later found out that stranger Chris Robinson really didn’t have a television show at all. In fact, he was a convicted felon sought by BC authorities on fraud charges.
Dunnville’s restaurant owners, much like Windsor’s councillors, truly believed the hype. They believed the promised television coverage would change their economic prospects and bring in tourists.
Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens, apparently unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, bragged publicly about the billions of TV viewers soon to know of Windsor. In Windsor’s case, there was no stranger involved.
In fact, the city’s former mayor, Eddie Francis, went on an international trip to convince FINA, the swimming competition people, to hold its event in this city. He was drawn by the glitz of being on the world stage.
Somehow, he saw no red flags in the fact that FINA had proven too costly for some North American and European cities.
In Dunnville, allegedly, Robinson wanted the restaurants to give him, “… $500, and gather thousands more in ‘sponsorship’ money.”
Although Windsor was said to be going after sponsorship money little seemed to be found, so its taxpayers were on the hook for about $20 million. The federal and provincial governments tossed in a further $6 million, and FINA, as a possible courtesy, put $1.5 million into the kitty as well.
Robinson, meanwhile, collected, “… more than $2,000 in sponsorship funds for flights and advertising.”
However, Windsor agreed to pay the full freight and cover all the flights needed to bring FINA swimmers to town.
Dunnville’s residents are understandably angry for being hoodwinked. Oddly, Windsor’s not so much.
The city has yet to release a full accounting of the real cost of its FINA event.