MAN AND HIS WORLD has been reprieved. It might have been better had it died. It is devoutly to be hoped that Mayor Drapeau is not going to insist year after tattered year that his cherished brainchild be propped up and perpetuated until it is akin to Toronto’s tacky CNE.
Expo’s problem is that it is suffering from aftermath. In 1967 everything was going for it; Centennial’s heightened nationalism, thronging crowds, breathtaking excellence and unprecedented publicity. But all that is gone, and gone beyond recall. Attendance last year was less than one quarter of 1967’s 50 million and there are few reasons, apart from that special brand of Drapeau optimism, to believe 1969 will reach that figure.
Beyond its economic usefulness as a tourist attraction it is difficult to see any reason for perpetuating Man and His World as an exhibition.
With respect, Mayor Drapeau, why flog a tired concept? Why perpetuate a pale reflection of the greatness that was Expo? Why use a site with the greatest recreational potential of any North American city for relatively passive spectator-gawking? Let Montreal, which led the world in imagination with Expo, lead again by building the greatest citizens’ centre in history.
A proposal: turn the magnificent Expo site into a permanent recreation centre. Construct a massive swimming pool on the scale of Moscow’s. Build a few dozen tennis courts. Create the most extensive marina in the world. Lay out basketball courts, baseball diamonds, football fields, hiking trails. For winter, construct hockey cushions, snowmobile trails, a skiing area.
Adapt one of the permanent buildings for use as a giant teen centre, another for square dancing. Set up arts and crafts and drama locales. And keep La Ronde for amusement.
The location is perfection. The Metro makes it all accessible to Montrealers for a subway fare. Consider what it would do to stimulate new friendships and how it would combat the normal impersonality of relationships in a big city.
Stop trying to duplicate that first splendid rapture, Mr. Drapeau. Dream another dream.
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