PORT HOOD: The council chamber was full, and so were the pockets of federal officials.
“It’s a great day in Inverness County,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie, after a funding announcement was made on March 3, relating to Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Innovative Communities Fund. ACOA will provide close to $1 million in funding for Inverness County’s tourism initiatives.
“We’ve done a lot of work on Canada’s Musical Coast, and now we have federal funding and funding from the province. It’s not an end to the work we’ve done, but a new beginning,” MacQuarrie said. “Communities will benefit from all of the changes that are coming. The municipality will make gains in terms of tourism, more people will come, and the residents will enjoy the beautiful surroundings.”
The warden said a municipality-led project focusing on signature spaces and signage will go a long way to developing key attractions in communities across the county.
“This will be done in close partnership with community groups, government partners, and businesses, building an even better tourist experience for visitors and improving the quality of life for our residents,” she said.
In specific, ACOA is providing $999,170 to support the municipality with various infrastructure enhancements to help grow tourism and benefit the local economy.
The project is phase one in the implementation of recommendations from the Municipal Tourism Strategy. The funding will be parceled out over three years, and it builds on the Canada’s Musical Coast brand.
Additional funding comes from the provincial government ($398,500) and the municipality and community groups ($477,153).
With the legislature in session, no one from the province was able to attend.
However, the MP for Cape Breton-Canso Mike Kelloway was on hand to announce the federal investment. With him was René Arseneault, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.
“This to me is a smart and strategic investment,” Kelloway said. “It’s one I would say to other counties, look what [Inverness County] did here. They have a strategy plan when it comes to tourism that’s fundamental to the area, and it’s something the federal government can get behind.
“It starts with community. Ideas are there from the municipalities and provinces, and it’s the job of people like myself to look at those ideas and really steward them in Ottawa.
“It’s a great feeling when the federal government can work with community, the municipality and the province on something that’s substantial. That builds on existing assets and creates new ones,” he added.