There's an automotive museum in southwestern Ontario struggling to keep the lights on due to skyrocketing electricity costs.
Volunteers who maintain the Canadian Transportation Museum at Heritage Village in Kingsville fear they might soon have to close because they can’t afford electricity bills to the tune of $5,400 a month.
The museum is nestled in a woodlot, 25 minutes from the heart of Windsor, long known as the Auto Capital of Canada. It has a 1950s-themed diner. It hosts weddings. And it is home to some truly unique Canadian pieces, including one of the first game-changing Dodge Caravans to roll off the line at Chrysler’s Windsor assembly plant and one of the last V-6 engines built by Ford in Windsor.
But this isn’t an ad for the museum. It’s a plea for someone to save it, before it’s too late.
We’re racing closer to the mass electrification of the automobile. Before we know it, a generation of kids who will never have to “fill ‘er up” will be born. They’ll be as fascinated by the gas-powered cars of today that might eventually be displayed at the museum, as I am by the horse-drawn carriage and early combustion engines currently there.
One would think with such a deeply rooted auto presence in Windsor, an automaker or parts manufacturer would have, by now, come to the rescue by donating funds to help the quaint museum.
There are five major automakers assembling vehicles in Ontario. Honda, Toyota, FCA, Ford and General Motors employ thousands. And for that, the government and the local economy are thankful. Unifor, the union that represents nearly 24,000 people in the auto sector, is also grateful for the automakers’ high-paying presence.
Two of those automakers received some serious government assistance in 2017. Honda got a combined $83.6 million from the federal and Ontario governments in January. Ford got $204.8 million from the two governments in March. That’s money that doesn’t have to be repaid.
But so far, none of the five automakers operating in Ontario, the union that represents thousands of their workers or either government has publicly come forward to offer the museum assistance, and that’s a shame. Credit where credit is due, of course; in 2015 FCA donated $10,000.
“We’ve been a part of the Windsor/Essex community since 1925 and the CTMHV celebrates the region’s rich heritage, automotive and beyond,” FCA Canada CEO Reid Bigland said at the time.
Hopefully, someone else steps forward — and soon — to help keep the lights on.