Mantracker gets its man – err, umm money from Haliburton County

BY TERRANCE GAVAN – EDITOR

Jerry Grozelle over at the County Voice reports that Haliburton County Economic Development Committee (ECD) has agreed to pay Mantracker, a cult-clique-clunky fugitive television show, $4,500 to come to Haliburton County.

That’s unacceptable on many levels. But especially reprehensible because it’s a deal made in the heat of the moment to give economic development officer Bob Smith a patina of due diligence. Let’s face it, Mantracker looks good on a resume. And hey, it gives one some time to schmooze with what passes for Hollywood in these parts.

We’re disappointed.

We wrote a piece recently asking Haliburton County to have a think before dedicating $4,500 large to wheedle Mantracker.

We quoted Minden Times/Haliburton Echo reporter Chad Ingram’s piece from the Economic Council of Haliburton County.

“Television series Mantracker wants to film in Haliburton County, but members of the county’s economic development committee (EDC) don’t appear to be big fans of the idea.

The committee received a request from the producers of the show, which airs in Canada on Outdoor Life Network, CityTV and G4TV, at its July 13 meeting. The program features two people who are dropped off in the wilderness with a compass and map who have to find their way to a certain point before being apprehended by a tracker on a horse.

“They are looking for and generally receive some sort of monetary assistance from the host community of approximately $6,000,” county economic development director Bob Smith wrote in a report. “However, the department has negotiated with them and believes this project can be facilitated for an amount between $3,500 and $4,500. The long and short of it is without something from the county, they would most likely . . . be seeking another venue.” “

So at that meeting, the committee was not enamored of the idea. I gave the committee props and due DAP for expressing concern about spending all that money for dubious cost-benefit ration.

Last week the ECD okayed the deal. I’m gobsmacked.

Hey County! What the hell changed? What could possibly have convinced you that paying to bring a television episode of dubious popularity and minus its long-time host – Mantracker Terry Grant up and quit at the end of last season – was a good idea?

I haven’t seen the show, and I watch a lot of TV. Mantracker, according to statistics has about 100,000 viewers. If you know anything about television that’s a small clique demographic. We’re in an economic downturn and advertisers just aren’t paying out like they once did. So of course, charging the County, spinning the show’s appeal is part of the game.

Ever see those guys walking around in GAP tee-shirts? Ever wonder about the kinky irony involved in that consumer vis production paradigm.

“Hi, my name’s Ted. I just paid $65 for a blue tee-shirt of dubious quality. And now? I’m advertising for the guys what sold me dis’ overpriced piece of crap. For free. I’m Ted. And I love me my GAP.”

“Hi. My name is Haliburton County… Come see my rocks and trees… because you know, rocks and trees and lovely vistas like this? Are pretty scarce here in Canada. Oh and when you stop by? Bring a horse, a lasso and two fugitives. Cos’ this is Haliburton and we’re all about the hunt!”

Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey questioned the expenditure. A lone voice in the wilderness apparently.

My point. And it’s a big one. We got tourists. We got tourists and tourists and more tourists. Take a drive. Take a walk. It’s summer. Of course we got tourists.

I want my ECD to concern itself with more than tourism. Haliburton does not need more tourists. And as we all know tourism is fickle. An American Dollar that verges on the moribund is what’s hampering tourism all over Canada. When our buck was worth .65 on the Yankee Canada had tourists coming out of its ying yang.

Here’s a fact that you might want to munch on. We have winter here in Haliburton. No one comes here in the winter.

Hell, Mantracker doesn’t shoot in the winter. Know why? Because it’s cold. It’s darn cold. And even horseS don’t like the cold. Mr. Ed? Any comment? “Neigh, nay… don’t like the cold much!” Thanks Ed.

We’re fooling ourselves thinking that we can spend money like this on summer tourism advertising which, in the end are nothing but vanity quilts. Quit preening in the backlight of this faux Hollywood Dream-Machine. Bob Smith may convince you that it’s good for the county. Mantracker may tout its congealed benefits to Haliburton.

But that’s all spin.

This is a bad idea. A lot of money thrown into the wind. For a tourism industry that doesn’t benefit the people of Haliburton.

I want you to seriously measure the trickle-down from this $4500 buck vanity crunch when measured against the guys and gals doing the work.

Haliburton doesn’t need to spend money on tourism. We need to find people jobs that pay more than entry level tourism employment. These jobs are great for high school kids. For young people building a resume. But they don’t pay to keep a single mother of two above the poverty line.

I had a mid-life crisis and moved to the Rockies and into the tourism industry. Invermere BC is a huge tourist mecca with shitty jobs. People live two or three or four or more to a house. Because housing is scarce and the pay is crap. Sound familiar?

Shitty jobs are just that. Stop gaps. Unfortunately the residents of Haliburton County, the people who are trying to eke out a living doing seasonal labor? They’re not seeing any benefits from Mantracker or Breakfast Television or any of the many other hare-brained schemes from the spins of whimsy.

So let’s quit spending money willy nilly on iffy tourism schemes. You want to develop Haliburton?

Here’s a few ideas.

What about spending some time developing industry that will pay residents a decent wage. In about a decade, Haliburton will be home to a lot of retirees. There’s a big industry about to be rolled out. Seniors. Know what seniors like? They like facilities. They don’t watch Mantracker. They like pools. Lighted tennis courts. They like gymnasiums. People are living longer. They are also living healthier.

We have no money for pools. No money for parks. No money for gyms. That’s what you’ve told us. In no uncertain terms.

The County has on numerous occasions refused to even consider the idea of a pool. Too expensive,

Well here you go. Lao-Tsu said the journey starts with a single step. Take the $4,500 and put it into a fund.

Call it the Senior Citizen Industry Fund. I guarantee that a pool and a new rec complex would do more for Haliburton than a million hits on a tourism website. Or a trillion. Because tourism is just that. For the tourists.

And Haliburton County is not the tourists.

It’s the people. That live here knuckleheads.

Give them a chance. Because we are living in the poorest backwater in this province.

What’s needed from County?

Vision.

Not horses.

And this deal smells a lot like what saunters out of the north side of a southbound palomino.

gav@pardontheeruption.com twitter.com/terrancegavan