Sault Ste. Marie's new transportation corridor, officially titled Carmen's Way, was dedicated today to its namesake, former Sault MP Carmen Provenzano.
That there could not have been a more fitting tribute was a sentiment expressed by many at today's dedication ceremony, including the late MP's wife Ada.
Ada is shown with Joe Fratesi, the City' Chief Administrative Officer and master of ceremonies at the dedication.
At today's dedication ceremony, she spoke briefly about her life with her husband, describing his love for his family and his community.
"This is certainly a fitting tribute to him because it's a connecting road and definitely that was Carmen's Way," Mrs. Provanzano said. "He had a connection with everybody."
She added that Carmen's Way starts near the house where Carmen and Ada raised their children.
It passes by the house where the future MP grew up and it ends near the house he was born in.
"Thank you Sault Ste. Marie for bestowing this honour on all our family and especially Carmen," she said.
Other speakers included Sault MPP David Orazietti, Mayor John Rowswell and Carmen's brother Frank Provenzano.
A dedication plaque was unveiled and Mayor Rowswell presented Ada Provenzano with flowers.
Although Carmen's Way was officially dedicated today, it will not be open to traffic for another three to four weeks.
The following is the full text of the speech by Joe Fratesi that moved some of Carmen's friends and family to tears:
******************* Carmen's Way dedication ceremony
Friday, Sept. 15, 2006 – 11:00 a.m.
Welcome everyone this morning to a dedication ceremony which honours and celebrates the very significant contributions which the late Carmen Provenzano made to our community and the way in which he made them.
Good morning, my name is Joe Fratesi and it is a privilege for me to be your master of ceremonies here today.
Let me first introduce to you our platform guests and other guests some of whom will be making comments later:
- David Orazietti, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie (who will speak on behalf of the province of Ontario)
- Mayor John Rowswell, (who will speak on behalf of the City)
- Ada Provenzano, Carmen's wife
- Frank Provenzano, Carmen's brother, (who will speak on behalf of the family)
- Ann Provenzano, Frank's wife and sister-in-law
- Marlene and Tom Sartor, Carmen's sister and brother-in-law
- Nancy and Brent McCracken, Carmen's sister and brother-in-law
(also acknowledge several nieces and nephews and their families, close friends, Bill, Peter and others)
As you know, today is not about the opening of our new transportation corridor, it is about dedicating to memory and honour of one of the people who was very instrumental in its happening.
Much more will be said about this important piece of City infrastructure later in the fall when it is completed and opened.
As you look around the City today, you will see several major infrastructure projects being completed, projects that would not have been possible had it not been for the hard work of Carmen Provenzano.
This new direct transportation link, build for local traffic as well as for transient traffic using our International Bridge and our highways, has been on the City's books for decades.
However, like other major projects, money to complete the expensive improvements has always been the issue.
Without significant participation by the senior levels of government, municipalities simply cannot undertake projects of this magnitude.
Getting that participation by the senior levels of government only happens when you have an articulate, hardworking and dedicated Member of Parliament or Legislature.
One who doesn't take 'no' for an answer.
That indeed, was Carmen's Way. When money was needed for this transportation link, at a federal level, it was Carmen, who after the City was turned down on a federal border crossing program, found us a program where the federal government and provincial government had partnered to offer funding under a "Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program" (SHIP)
That was Carmen's Way.
When the City needed to get moving on rebuilding the East End sewage plant to bring it to secondary treatment and needed to build massive holding tanks to help East End homeowners who stayed awake most rainy evenings, fearing basement flooding, an estimate of about $60 million was identified as the cost.
That's the biggest capital cost that this City had to face, if the work was to get done.
With a big push by then Ward 1 Councillor David Orazietti, the federal government agreed to come to the table in partnership with the province to pick up 2/3 of the cost.
Sault Ste. Marie was one of the larger projects approved under the OSTAR Program and one of the few for this type of project.
Had it not been for the perseverance and hard work of Carmen Provenzano, that project would not have happened.
He quietly made the phone calls and visits and persuaded those in charge that Sault Ste. Marie deserved a favourable response.
No fanfare, no self-accolades. 'Just doing my job', according to Carmen.
But, that was Carmen's Way.
There is much excitement and anticipation about the opening of the new Steelback Centre.
This will be our community's new gathering place, a place where we will play, pray, be entertained and where we will gather as a community as required.
The City needed to either spend a lot of money upgrading the old Memorial Gardens or replace it with a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment centre, that will serve the next two or three generations.
The cost of a new facility was estimated at about $22 – 25 million.
Applications were filed with the senior levels of government, hoping that each level might pick up 1/3.
In clear and uncertain terms, the City was told that there would be no money available for this project, as it did not meet infrastructure priority requirements.
'No' was not an answer acceptable to Carmen and while he was not able to get as much as we originally asked, he did manage to squeeze enough out of the federal and provincial partnership fund, to allow the City to put a viable finance plan together.
Again no fanfare, no accolades, no self-indulgence.
That, again was Carmen's Way.
"Carmen's Way" of getting things done was a "No b.s., do what it takes to get the job done; don't take 'no' for an answer; if at first you don't succeed, don't make a big deal about getting it done."
All of these rolled up into one.
It is truly unfortunate that it was not until after his death that many people come to totally understand and appreciate the breadth and the depth of Carmen's involvement in the success of our community, today.