ARICHAT: The main drag here has undergone a major face-lift.
After beginning in July, a long-awaited sidewalk project for Arichat was recently completed, this as six businesses – including La Goelette a Pepe Café, Guardian Pharmacy, Shirley’s Spud Wagon, The Clairestone Inn, Dan Mac Lumber & Hardware, The Island Nest, and Jeantie’s Mini-Mart – along the village’s High Road took advantage of a façade program.
Then under the streetscape portion of the project, lampposts were installed along the sidewalk, and expected soon is the placement of benches and greenery near the St. Joseph’s Credit Union ATM, in front of the Municipality of the County of Richmond’s administration building, and at the entrance to St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre.
“It makes a big difference,” Isle Madame Tourism and Trade Association chair Lisa Boudreau told The Reporter. “What I think it represents is a way to tie-in the businesses within the street and make it a more serviceable area that is accessible and welcoming. It’s hard to believe that a small sidewalk could do that but it really does make you feel part of something.”
There will be a fully accessible picnic area in the bump-out at St. Anne Centre, Boudreau said.
“St. Anne residents can come from the paved entrance around the side into this bump-out,” she explained. “They also continued the sidewalk past that and put a nice ramp off sidewalk so you can easily move the residents if they want to go to church or another function.”
In front of the municipal building, she said there will be a green space with shrubs, trees and a walkway.
“It’s an area where people can gather and congregate and maybe hold a picnic or an outdoor event,” Boudreau noted. “It will make it more of a gathering space so people can stop longer and more people can gather.
“The green spaces, the little bit of greenery that’s added as part of the sidewalk project, adds something. There’s an opportunity for planting, there’s an opportunity in some of the those areas even where’s there no pull-out.”
In addition to the overwhelmingly positive response from the community, Boudreau noted that the sidewalks also make it safer for pedestrians, especially St. Anne residents and students at École Beau-Port. This is not to forget the Active Transportation aspect for walkers.
“It makes it much safer for the residents of St. Anne, the kids at the school and anyone walking. It’s safe place and it will be very well lit.”
Boudreau pointed out the Arichat Revitalization Project was on the municipality’s infrastructure priority list for many years before becoming a reality. It was cost-shared 50-50 between the municipality and businesses along the Main Street, which includes the aforementioned enterprises, as well as Charles Forest Co-op, the Isle Madame Seafood Market and Canada Post.
The businesses applied for funding through the municipality, which hired a consultant and worked with ACOA. Last January, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) announced that it approved $700,944 through its Innovative Communities Fund.
“It was the municipal unit that took the ownership of that particular work and took it from there,” she stated. “We’re really happy to know that they were on board and part of this project. That was the only way it could work. So the results are beautiful and every is tickled pink with the results.”
But the revitalization project does not just involve Arichat, as The Groundswell in D’Escousse and businesses in Petit de Grat, such as the Corner Bridge Store, also applied for façade funding, Boudreau said.
As for future plans, Boudreau is hoping to extend the sidewalks to the post office, and eventually to the Charles Forest Co-op, this as more businesses in Arichat take part in façade improvements. She added that the sidewalks offer opportunities for different events like tours, which the businesses could not entertain previously.
“This little piece is going to help bring this area to life. It’s a great way to welcome people to Isle Madame and to Arichat. It makes it look like we care about our communities.”