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Stronach builds 'Canadaville' Evacuees moving into Louisiana social experiment
10/07/05 06:31 AM

Still room for more which is why I am posting article...

Evacuees moving into Louisiana social experiment
150 raise food for magnate's Florida racetrack patrons


PUNTA GORDA, Fla.—A bold social experiment by Canadian auto parts magnate Frank Stronach is about to enter a second, more challenging phase.

After airlifting close to 300 Hurricane Katrina evacuees to his Palm Meadows racetrack, Stronach is now in the process of moving about 150 of them back to Louisiana, where he has purchased 369 hectares of land in Simmesport. The parcel will accommodate 75 mobile homes, Black Angus cattle, catfish and crawfish ponds, pecan plantations and chickens and pigs that will be raised by hurricane victims.

The output from this "holistic farming'' experience will end up on the plates of patrons at Stronach's Gulfstream Park in Palm Beach, Fla., if this experiment works.

"This is no FEMA Village,'' says Dennis Mills, the former Liberal MP who is helping "Canadaville'' take root.

Indeed, the Stronach plan calls for three-bedroom, two-bathroom air-conditioned units measuring 24 metres by 5.5 metres, complete with washers, dryers and bevelled ceilings.

The first of the units began arriving yesterday .

The site is bordered by old oak trees and is close to schools.

Evacuees will have front and back porches and rent will be free for five years — with a proviso.

"If you are an able-bodied person, you must put back into the community," Mills said. You must learn a craft or a skill or use the craft or skill you already have.

"This is a journey of hope and rebuilding the community.''

About 30 evacuees have shown enthusiasm for the project so far, Mills says, but there is room for another 150 displaced by Katrina who are still in Louisiana shelters.

Those who took shelter at the racetrack will be out by the end of the month.

Canadian carpenters, members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, are already at work in Simmesport, a tiny, racially mixed Louisiana community on the banks of the Atchafalaya River in Avoyelles Parish.

But the project was a hard sell.

Local residents told Mills at a townhall meeting that they were afraid of crime in their quiet town, and fearful that the local population would swell beyond the breaking point.

Capt. Kenneth Deischer of the Palm Beach County Police Department, said he had a heavy police presence at Palm Meadows and not a single arrest had been made.

Allison Laborde, the secretary-treasurer of Avoyelles Parish, said the community is welcoming the evacuees partly out of humanitarian motives and partly with the hope that this rural area will get an economic boost.

the star

“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view." George Eliot

Edited (10/07/05 02:13 PM)

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