Saturday, October 03, 2009

Last one out, turn off the lights.

The new-ish Visitor Centre at Massena's Moses-Saunders Power Dam is deserted, the desk manned by three bored students busy with their homework. Inside, a big display trumpets the benefits of cheap power for local industries: Kraft Foods: Going, going, gone, at least in Canada; can the US be far behind, especially since demand for dairy produce is falling? Paper mills: closed. GM Powertrain, source of half of Massena's "nobility": closed. Alcoa, source of the other half of Massena's "princes": now reduced to job-sharing.

Check out the nearby mega-mall: most of the Food Court is shuttered, and perhaps half the stores. At first, efforts were made to camouflage the empty sockets. Now it's just white-painted sheets of plywood. It's a place where the newly-unemployed and single moms hang out, and--on Fridays--roving gangs of teenagers, causing timid seniors to avoid it.

How many ships traverse the Seaway, once a promise of plenty for the North Country? Two, three a day? Historical photos show the local area humming with the construction of the Seaway. It was all downhill from then on. Won't be long before the weeds take over. The visitor centres will quietly close--no more money to employ the mayor's daughter behind the desk. And there'll be no money to mow the parks, either, if it's a toss-up between funding social programs and gardening. And what of the giant "palaces" in Massena's Mortgage Hill? How will the owners pay the heat, light and taxes if they're unemployed? I notice the Hummers are being replaced by pickup trucks, too. We're living on thin air.

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