So it's not extactly a tower...



Some sentences spoken at city council meetings need parsing. Not to mention contextualizing.

Such is the case with Councillor and railway tunnel booster David LeSueur, who on Tuesday rhapsodized about the tourism potential of the great project this way: “This is our Magnetic Hill, our Fort Henry, our CN Tower.”

The comment has already drawn some predictable scorn from online commenters, and is bound to raise some eyebrows in the non-virtual world as well.

To put it in the gentlest way possible, the remarks are a stretch.

I say this as someone who is not inclined to slam the railway tunnel project, who in fact would like to see it given the best chance possible.

It's Canada's oldest rail tunnel. We have it. To leave it sitting there under city hall as it falls apart, or maybe becomes one of those desolate “Abandoned Places” on the Twitter feed of the same name strikes me as more than a little negligent.

But another Magnetic Hill or CN Tower? Hardly.

The tunnel will be a niche attraction, of interest to railway buffs, of which there are many, and some of whom are obsessive enough to travel great distances to walk or ride through this historical artifact.

It will be a niche attraction, I say, but a good niche attraction, precisely because of the niche it is targeting.

The proposed enhancements of a trolley riding through the tunnel and taking riders to different parts of the downtown, as well as commercial developments at the north portal, are nice touches, but hardly enough to give this attraction the iconic status of a CN Tower.

On the other hand, one could read LeSueur's comments in a strictly Brockville context. The tunnel will not be another CN Tower; it'll be our CN Tower.

In the same way, perhaps, that Centre 76 is Athens Ontario's Acropolis. Everything is relative to size.

Except this might be inaccurate as well, given how the city is spending considerable sums to ensure the Aquatarium is the anchor attraction that associates Brockville in people's minds with a Thousand Islands River Quest.

It may be best, then, to leave aside the hyperbole entirely and just say the railway tunnel is something unique to Brockville, a cool venue that will draw in train buffs and their families.

That's no tower, but it's still something we can get behind.