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PMB helps historic sites

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Prospective beneficiaries of a private member's bill introduced by Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown are not yet ready to line up in support.

Brown’s proposed legislation would allow national historic sites such as the Rideau Canal, Fort Wellington and the heritage mill in Delta to issue tax receipts for donations geared for construction projects.

But a Parks Canada spokesman said management wants more time to consider the effect of the bill on the Rideau Canal and Fort Wellington, which fall under the federal agency's jurisdiction, before commenting.

And the curator at the Delta mill says tax receipts are already available to supporters because the Delta Mill Society operates as a not-for-profit organization.

“We're trying to determine what, if anything, this really changes for us,” said Paul George, curator of the mill for the past eight years.

“As it stands, I don't quite see how it would help us specifically. But that doesn't mean it's not a good thing if it helps historic sites.”

George said he's been told by Brown's office that the bill would allow a historic site to build a fund, possibly with corporate donations, to tackle major projects that require significant funding.

But the mill, like many historic properties, relies on donations to address immediate concerns, he said.

When donations are received, the mill society's first question is often: “What do we need at the time and what bill has to be paid first?” said George.

Still, George said he supports Brown's effort to help conserve historic sites by providing tax receipts for donations.

Meanwhile, Rideau Canal communications officer Paul Galipeau said management needs time to assess the potential impact of Brown's bill.

Galipeau delivered the same message on behalf of Parks Canada, which has jurisdiction over the Rideau Canal and Fort Wellington.

“As soon as we hear back, I'll let you know,” he said.

Brown, who has successfully won support for previous private member's bills, said his latest effort stems from a suggestion raised during public discussions to consider fee raises – ultimately deferred - on the Rideau Canal.

“I think it is something that can really help conservation of national historic sites,” said Brown.

 He said the Nature Conservancy of Canada issues tax receipts for property donations – including several in this area in recent years – and he believes it is fitting for the same to be available for people who support national historic sites.

Brown said he has been encouraged by the response from government colleagues and hopes to see his proposed legislation implemented in the government's 2014 budget.

FACTBOX:

PMB TRACK RECORD

Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown has seen measures he proposed in three previous private member's bills passed into law.

Most recently, his private member's bill to rename St. Lawrence Islands National Park as Thousand Islands National Park passed the House of Commons on March 27.

Another private member's bill to provide 52 weeks of compassionate care benefits for families coping with a gravely-ill child was adopted by the Conservative government in a bill that received Royal Assent Dec. 14.

Similarly, Brown's bill to establish mandatory minimum sentences for people concealing knives or committing manslaughter with a knife was adopted into the Criminal Code in 2008.

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