GUYSBOROUGH: Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner summed up the mood of the hundreds of people that filled the gymnasium of the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex (CLC) for the facility’s official opening ceremonies.
“Guysborough, ever in your wildest dreams did you expect to be sitting in a place like this?” Cuzner asked, drawing cheers from those in attendance to celebrate the $11.5 million structure, which began welcoming the public in early June.
“There are going to be so many great times in this facility. This is going to be a place of dreams and memories.”
The newly-minted CLC also houses the Chedabucto Fitness Centre, community meeting and event spaces, office space for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) recreation department, and a home for the Guysborough Options for Adaptive Living Society (GOALS). It also incorporates such nearby amenities as a refrigerated skating trail, a shinny rink, the Drysdale Softball Field, and an artificial turf soccer field with a four-lane running track, which will bear the name of the project’s key private donor, veteran business owner Steve Smith.
A native of Guysborough County who told the June 29 opening ceremonies that his elderly mother asks about the county every time he visits her apartment, Smith predicted that pockets of discontent that arose during the run-up to the CLC’s launch will come to appreciate the new Guysborough centre, just as similar opponents of Antigonish’s Keating Millennium Centre are now embracing that project.
“This will bring everybody together and everybody’s going to want to come,” Smith declared.
“I think it’s unparalleled in any community. In my community [of Antigonish], we have facilities like this but they’re not this close together… What you’ve done is amazing.”
In another sign that the CLC is likely to be a busy place in its first year of operation, one of the afternoon’s guest speakers, StFX men’s and women’s soccer coach Graham Kennedy, confirmed that both StFX soccer programs will join their counterparts from Cape Breton University (CBU) at the freshly-christened Steve Smith Soccer Field and Track Facility later this month.
Recalling the difficult journeys of Guysborough-born youth soccer players whose families have had to transport them to athletic programs in communities as far afield as New Waterford and Kentville, Kennedy described the CLC’s development as a turning point for the MODG.
“Facilities like this are not a luxury and they’re not an extravagance,” Kennedy insisted. “They are the bedrock of our community.”
Moments before joining members of MODG council to unveil “Your Space,” a piece of CLC artwork that contains the names of every single community in the municipality, Warden Vernon Pitts could barely contain his jubilation.
“To say I’m proud and honoured to be here today would be one of the biggest understatements of my life,” Pitts beamed.
“This complex has established us as a destination. People are going to want to live here, because we can provide the quality of life that they have come to expect.”
These sentiments were echoed by Pitts’ predecessor as warden, Lloyd Hines, now the Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA and Nova Scotia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR). Recalling the close margin of victory for his personal re-election in last year’s provincial election, Hines recalled a 2 a.m. election-night phone call from Premier Stephen McNeil.
“He said, ‘The only thing I could think of was you not being there to cut the ribbon for the new CLC,’” Hines recalled.
As for the new complex’s immediate first impressions on the community, CLC steering committee chair Randy Avery reported that “the impact has been amazing” since the structure first opened its doors nearly a month ago.
“I’ve never seen such optimism, excitement and pride in folks when they see the Lifestyle Complex,” Avery recalled.
“What we have here is remarkable. We are ready to sell Guysborough to the world. All the pieces of the puzzle are in place. Let’s go get it!”