(From the left): Richmond Warden Jason MacLean and Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner receive thanks from Clairestone Inn owner Shauna Austin as Richmond CAO Kent MacIntyre returns to the podium following the announcement of federal funding for a sidewalk and streetscape project for Arichat.

ARICHAT: Funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) was announced for a program to revitalize the municipality’s shire town.

This morning in Arichat, Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner announced that ACOA invested $700,944 through its Innovative Communities Fund to support the Municipality of the County of Richmond’s plan for new sidewalks, a fresh streetscape and a façade improvement program for local businesses on Arichat’s main street.

Enhancements will include new sidewalks, street lighting, benches, recyclable units, bicycle racks, green spaces, trees, and signage.

Photos by Jake Boudrot
The proposed project includes sidewalks starting at St. Ann Community and Nursing Care Centre.

Shauna Austin, the owner of the Clairestone Inn in Arichat, said she is excited to see the results of the project.

“It’s such a vital announcement for our little community,” Austin said. “It’s really incredible to be getting this opportunity through ACOA and I’m excited.

“It’s nice to be able to stroll through a town on a sidewalk. It feels like a town. Right now, it feels like a drive-thru.”

Richmond CAO Kent MacIntryre said this was a great announcement for Arichat, Isle Madame and Richmond County.

“Exciting things are going to be happening in Richmond in 2019 and this is a great kick-start to a lot of the good things that are going to be happening,” MacIntyre told the crowd at the announcement.

Richmond Warden Jason MacLean noted the municipality partnered with local businesses, as well as the federal government, on this project.

“The Arichat community has stepped up and embraced the opportunity for the betterment of its main street,” MacLean told the crowd. “This will be a game-changer as it will raise the overall standard and image of Isle Madame, specifically the Arichat main street and create a sense of arrival to Arichat, a shire town.”

The warden explained the streetscape portion of the project will include rest areas with proper lighting, benches, flower pots, way-finding signage, and excellent viewpoints of the ocean.

MacLean said the sidewalk portion addresses the need for healthy, active communities.

“As public spaces, sidewalks are the front steps to the community, activating a street socially and economically,” the warden noted.

Along with streetscape and business facade upgrades, the first phase of the sidewalk project will end at the Highland Street Bay Lane intersection in Arichat.

Since being elected to parliament in 2000, Cuzner noted how Arichat was in need of sidewalks and active transportation infrastructure. He added thanks to the work of Lisa Boudreau, with the Isle Madame Tourism and Trade Association (IMTTA), and Karen Malcolm, with ACOA in making the project a reality.

“I always found it was missing that piece, the sidewalk piece, and those aspects of the project that go along with that,” Cuzner said.

“There’s going to be immediate benefits with the jobs that will be created, but there will be long term benefits as well, aesthetically, the way people move in this community, and just that sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes along with an investment like this.”

Highway 206 is the main street and commercial corridor in Arichat located on Isle Madame, which is a designated French cultural region with a 70 per cent Acadian population. Main street businesses will benefit from the new streetscaping plan including the St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre, whose full-time residents will utilize the new sidewalk extensively.

Last July, Richmond Municipal Council formally committed $2 million towards the project.

The project will encompass 0.74 kilometres of new sidewalk extending from the north side of Highway 206, from Bay Lane to Highland Street, along with extensive new streetscaping and business façade improvements.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring.