PORT HOOD: Outdoor enthusiasts across Inverness County gathered at municipal chambers last Friday to hear a good news announcement from Sydney-Whitney Pier MLA Derek Mombourquette.
“We have committed over $1,000,000 to 11 shovel-ready projects to improve trails and make them more accessible throughout the province,” Mombourquette said, referencing a partnership between Communities, Culture and Heritage, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Interdepartmental Trails Committee which designed a funding program called the Recreation Trail Expansion Grant.
“I’m here to announce that the Inverness County Trails Federation will receive $200,000, the Port Hood Development Association is receiving $53,000, and the Inverness Development Association is receiving $75,000,” he said.
“This is a significant investment on behalf of the Liberal government, and for me, personally, I want to do whatever I can to support communities across Cape Breton.”
Anna Lee MacEachern, who serves as program coordinator for the municipality’s Department of Recreation/Tourism, spoke at the announcement on behalf of Blaise MacEachern, chair of Celtic Shores Coastal Trail Team.
The trail runs from Port Hastings to Inverness, and measures 92 kilometers. It’s maintained by five volunteer trail groups, several snowmobile clubs, and each of them spends between $3,000 and $7,000 annually on maintenance and related concerns. However, paying for upgrades is a challenge.
“The funding received from Communities, Culture and Heritage will address several components identified by the trail team,” the program coordinator said on MacEachern’s behalf. “They include top coat upgrades, new trailhead parking developments, picnic shelters and benches, way-finding and signage, and upgrades to maintenance equipment.”
Speaking on behalf of Port Hood Development, Sandy Gillis offered a thank you to the departments responsible for the funding. MacEachern gave a similar tip of the hat.
“The money will go a long way for our project because we had severe damage to our boardwalk last winter,” he said, mentioning that the Port Hood Boardwalk is just a short walk from a trailhead located at the former location of the Port Hood Station.
“A lot of people who walk the trails also walk the boardwalk,” he said. “I personally have walked the trail from Port Hawkesbury to Inverness in different sections, and there’s no beauty like that anywhere else.”
Also expressing appreciation for the donation was Rob Burbach, president of the Inverness Development Association. Those using the Inverness Boardwalk will certainly be grateful for the cash, he said.
“The boardwalk is a key piece of our tourism infrastructure,” Burbach said. “We’re anxious and eager to improve disability access, and the boardwalk is a key piece of our plan to save the dunes around there. With the construction of the boardwalk, we’ll be able to advance environmental protection of the Inverness Beach.”
The announcement took place at Inverness County Council chambers, and Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said it was great to hear the good news.
“The hard work of these organizations has translated into recognition of funding partners and sustainable projects which we will enhance in our municipality and provide venues for healthy active living for the residents and visitors here on the Musical Coast,” she added.