IRON MINES: An announcement by the provincial government last Friday means that L’Arche Cape Breton is one step closer to having its members enjoy a community centre of their own.
“The Gathering Space has been a dream of L’Arche Cape Breton for over 10 years, and today brings us closer to that dream becoming reality,” said L’Arche Cape Breton board chair, Monica McCarthy.
“What we envision is that The Gathering Space will enhance the community here, allowing our members to gather right here on the property.”
The provincial government announced an investment of $225,000 for the centre, which will be located in Iron Mines. The building will be an accessible setting for Nova Scotians with disabilities to sell produce, artwork, and crafts.
“Our Culture Action Plan launched this year supports inclusion and creating spaces where creativity can thrive for all Nova Scotians,” said Acadian Affairs and Francophonie Minister Michel Samson on behalf of Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince and Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard.
Samson made the announcement, and he was joined by the aforementioned McCarthy; Josie MacEachern, L’Arche Cape Breton Development Coordinator; Bob Morris, Liberal candidate for Inverness and a board member of L’Arche Cape Breton; Allan MacMaster, MLA for Inverness County; Betty Ann MacQuarrie, Inverness County Warden; and John MacLellan, area councilor. Also part of the announcement were L’Arche members Heather MacInnis, Mukthar Limpao, and David Gunn.
Though no one from the federal government was on the scene, the Government of Canada is also a funding partner. The feds have committed $460,000 for the project.
“The minute you say the word ‘L’Arche,’ the Premier immediately starts working to make things happen,” Samson said. “He believes in the movement and the community, and he wanted to be part of its growth.
“Once The Gathering Place is built, it will be a centre for people to come and celebrate cultural diversity in rural Cape Breton.
“Being here with you today will be one of the highlights of my career – to be able to work with you and support you in making The Gathering Place a reality in your community.”
The Gathering Place will be a 3,800-square-foot space. It will allow L’Arche to move from an aging wood structure and host functions in a barrier-free area. Four acres of land have been cleared, and the site will have access to the Trans-Canada Highway.
Limpao, a community leader at L’Arche, is happy to see the project moving forward.
“It makes my heart swell, knowing there are so many people who believe in us and what we’re doing,” he said.
“Having a more spacious and fully accessible gathering space for our meetings, concerts, plays, our training, our day programming – it makes such a huge difference for L’Arche Cape Breton, and not only for our community but the wider community.
“We want to express our deep gratitude for helping us to continue to live our mission, to recognize the value of every person.”
Inverness County is also helping to fund the new facility.
“I think this place is the definition of community, and I can see a big need for a Gathering Place,” said Warden MacQuarrie. “The municipality is also behind the building of the structure in the amount of $10,000. We’re also giving a few tax-exempt breaks.”
MacLellan, who serves as councillor for the area, was very pleased to see The Gathering Centre move one step closer to reality.
“It’s going to be great to see a new building here at the L’Arche community,” he said. “You are good people and do a terrific job.”