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I happened upon a copy of the "Desiderata" a prose poem written by Max Ehrmann in 1927. 

The Desiderata is a captivating poem that encourages a view of the world that is simple and positive.  The following is one stanza of the poem:

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

I can never figure out the benefit of being negative.  Sure it is easier to be negative than to see the positive, and our society is based on the ease of negativity that encourages everyone to feel comfort in the expectation of failure, but, just the same, there is never an end to the negative. 

When I consider the positive, I have to think of the new and exciting Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre; four arenas, an Olympic size pool and swim complex, in an open and inviting setting, with state of the art technology that will be welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors over the next few years. 

Every time I have been in the new facility I can see the hustle and bustle, easily imagine the families all coming together for an evening of sport, and picture the on-going commerce.  And yet, even with power of pervasive positivity, there remains a cloud of negativity.

So let’s take a moment and determine where it all started.  First, the Gretzky Centre was a complex that was tired and had seen better days, and all around us communities were enjoying new twin, tri and four pads.  Every time teams of families travelled to these other arenas, we felt worse about the facilities that we called home – an air of negativity across years.

Then the federal stimulus dollars came into the picture and the previous council committed Brantford’s share to the redevelopment of the whole centre; a positive upswing.  Unfortunately, early estimates for the arenas were undervalued and the municipality had to commit more money than expected, creating an initial overrun of $9 million – a negativity dip.  Council also debated for some time scaling back the project – negativity swirls around the rink boards as people talk.  

Council agreed to proceed with the previous project and announced that the public should expect overruns that are common with projects of this size.  The positive mood skyrockets as the yellow rink comes down and the steel structures go up; the excitement is building.  Throughout this past hockey season the thousands of community members who spend hours of their time in Brantford arenas, were anticipating moving into the new complex – positive upswing.

This past weekend I was at a spring hockey tournament in St Catharines with my family (this is how many families spend their holiday weekends).  There were hundreds of families from all over North America and we all spent a lot of money in that community. 

I was standing next to a Brantford parent with a son on a team in a younger age division, and conversation turned to the new Gretzky Centre.  He commented that they had been to the new St Catharines 4 pad a number of times over the years (as had I) and every time he entered this beautiful complex he couldn’t help lamenting the state of our own arenas.  But as we stood rink-side, he said that this was the first time that he realized that our new complex was far superior.   No longer embarrassed, we could now consider ourselves fortunate to have the premier arena complex in Ontario. 

His son started asking questions about when they would be able to play in the arenas, and I brought out my blackberry which still had many pictures I had taken of the new complex over the last number of weeks.   Watching this father and son share in the excitement of the new Gretzky Centre, renewed my excitement and commitment to provide the most positive, community-based opening of the complex that we can possibly envision. 

There are negatives in every project, and there were some bad decisions made in the early going of this project, but the positives of what will come will far outweigh any of the negatives that people might hang on to like dogs with bones. 

Is it necessary to let 10% of the negative, destroy the 90% positive that is really the foundation of the new Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre?  I say no – or rather – I say yes to the positive.   Will people who might never spend more than a passing moment in the complex, dictate to those who will be building family memories how we see ourselves and our community?  I say no – and I say yes to the positive.

Will there be any more negative?  I can’t give you 100% assurance that there won’t be, but I can guarantee that this Council will be open and work to build a positive foundation for all of our futures.

Read the "Desiderata"

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.