GUYSBOROUGH: A new recreation facility is moving forward and municipal officials expect construction will start by the beginning of next month.

On April 19, the provincial and federal governments each announced funding to the tune of $1.5 million each for the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex under the Small Communities Fund. Later on the same day, council for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough awarded the contract for parts of the complex, except for the turf field and track, to Marko Construction. Council awarded the contract for the turf soccer field and track to Turf Master.

Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, on behalf of Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi, and Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines made the announcement at the Guysborough Municipal Office

“If we’re looking at growing the community, sustaining the community, it has to focus around the economy,” said Cuzner. “If you’re wanting companies to come and invest here and set up shop. Those people that want to work with those companies; they’re looking for amenities within the community.”

Cuzner said the $1.5 million from the federal government is a significant investment, noting he is impressed with the fact all of council and a large number of community members are behind the facility.

Hines isn’t new to the idea of a recreation facility in Guysborough. He was warden when an arena was considered back in 2010.

“This isn’t something that just fell out of the sky,” said Hines. “This is the result of a lot of hard work and great design and great commitment from the community to bring this to this point.

“We’ve got a big job ahead of us to maintain our youth that we have here and to attract back some of the people that have had to leave because there was no economic activity,” he continued. “We’ll get lots of people to move back and this kind of facility is as important as sewer and streetlights and roads, in my opinion, in terms of that overall picture.”

Photo by Matt Draper
(From the left): Guysborough CAO Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner; Barry Carroll, Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner; Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines; and Guysborough Warden Vernon Pitts were at the announcement of $3 million in funding for the Chedabucto Lifestyles Complex.

The total cost of the project is around $11.6 million. With the federal and provincial funding, along with the community’s goal of raising $500,000, this leaves approximately $8.1 million for the municipality to cover.

Guysborough Warden Vernon Pitts, who also participated in the event, said he was pleased council unanimously awarded the tender. As for covering the rest of the cost of the facility, Pitts said council will use money from capital and operating reserves.

“It will be paid back at the rate of $300,000 per year,” said Pitts. “That will be a minimum of $300,000 per year. If we can pay it off sooner, we’ll pay it.”

Pitts also thanked both Hines and Cuzner for helping secure the funding.

Guysborough CAO Barry Carroll said the maximum net impact on the municipality’s budget for the day-to-day running of the facility is around $70,000 over what they spend now on recreation.

Community organizers raised $310,000 with the goal being to raise at least $500,000 from residents and local businesses.

In May, 2016, council members voted to spend $60,000 on early site preparation on the proposed facility across from the Chedabucto Education Centre/Academy and adjacent to the existing tennis courts. The proposed facility will include a refrigerated skating trail, a shinny rink, an artificial turf soccer field with a four-lane running track, the Drysdale Softball field, and a community building housing the Chedabucto Fitness Centre, community meeting/event spaces, recreation department office space, an elementary-sized gymnasium, and a home for the Guysborough Options for Adaptive Living Society (GOALS).

Carroll said the construction time for the project will be between 10-12 months. Pitts added council expects to see shovels in the ground by anywhere from a week to 10 days.