Thursday, September 7, 2006

Why don't they rename Hamilton, Juravinski?

This is not meant to be a personal swipe at Charles and Margaret Juravinksi. They built a family business -- Flamboro Downs -- from the ground up, and pumped tons of their own money into was a barely break-even operation. They finally won the fruits of their labour about ten years ago, when the provincial government allowed both off-track betting (something that was once only available at Woodbine) and slot machines on site. Both proved to be a bonanza for Hamilton, netting about 10 million a year in royalties. And it made the Juravinskis power players in Hamilton. A couple of years ago, they were bought out by Frank Stronach of Magna for a huge amount of money -- we don't know how much, but enough that Chuck and Peggy had too much on their hands.

Rather than hoard it for themselves -- like Lord Conrad Black or Donald Trump -- they decided to give back to the community. First, they gave a pretty piece of change to get four new radiation bunkers the local cancer clinic badly needed; and the grateful board renamed the building the Juravinski Cancer Centre. However the adjoining hospital, Henderson General (on the edge of the Hamilton Escarpment), is in bad need of repairs -- $250 million dollars worth. In fact, nearly the entire site will be torn down and redeveloped by the Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation (which also operates the Hamilton General in the North End, Chedoke on the West Mountain, and the McMaster University Medical Centre). The Juravinskis decided, oh what the heck, we'll give the hospital $43 million as a down payment. As gratitude, HHS is renaming the entire compound -- both the cancer clinic and the hospital -- the Juravinski General Hospital.

The only part of the hospital that will still be called Henderson will be the 90 wing, the most modern part of the place and the area in least need of repairs. This is an insult to Nora Frances Henderson, a long time member of the Hamilton City Council and the first woman to sit on a city Board of Control. She was as much of a trailbrazer in Canada as Jeanette Rankin was in the States (one of the first women, if not the first, to sit in the US Congress, at a time when most states didn't even allow women the right to vote).

The Juravinskis have every right to spend their money as they wish, and that they're doing some good in the community is a good thing. But does everything have a price? Hamilton already got an example of that a few years ago when Hamilton Place -- so called because it was built with public donations -- was renamed the Ron Joyce Centre when the Tim Horton's kingpin plunked down $10 million for renovations. Are we facing a future where we'll visit the Sun Life National Arts Centre; the Irving Oil Montréal Fine Arts Museum, the Hudson's Bay Stanley Park, or the Dunkin' Donuts Parliament of Canada? Heck, the 407 is owned by a multi-national consortium, too.

The other problem is that donations like this actually discourage both common folk and most of rest of the high-heeled from contributing themselves. For the little people, they figure, the rich will take care of it so why should I make a pledge? Most rich people can't be bothered either -- they see family wealth as for their famiilies only and see other rich people who give so generously as either fools or sellouts.

At the rate things are going, they'll soon have to rename the City of Hamilton, Juravinski. For all intents and purposes, my alma mater McMaster University is really DeGroote College, given all the buildings on campus named after the former head of Laidlaw.


Kittyhugs said...

I agree. I hate the man myself. A bloody criminal, extortionist , organized crime race track owner. Him and his wife are the worst people. Whoopee you have all that money to throw around. Our hospital is in shambles and run by crooks. I hate that hospital with a passion. You know what that woman said when they opened West 5th in their name? "Well this is a bit much" OMG!!! When they opened the new side of Henderson they had a BBQ for all the big shots ( I am just a servant to them ) .They Ask The fair lady if she preferred chicken of hamburger. The modest lady responded "Why one of each! After all the party is for us and all the money we gave" classless bitch!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a little saddened. I reached out this gentleman recently with the hopes that he might be able to right a wrong. He knew both my now deceased parents, who spoke highly of him and his wife. I phoned to try and explain the circumstances of the situation. He was not interested. I wanted to mail him some documents to read which would explain everything. Again he was not interested. I realize that this would not get his name on a plaque or on a building, but it have brought some hope to a little seven year old boy with ADHD, to not have to move from the only home he has ever known. It does not cost anything to read a few documents,and provide an opinion.

BlastFurnace said...

To Anonymous - I apologize for the very long delay in clearing your post. The fact is I was not one but two hospitals ... and one of them was in a unit that just happened to be named after the Juravinski couple. What are the odds?!