ARICHAT: Richmond Municipal Council will speak with the administrator of the Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre about a walking trail project.

During the regular monthly meeting on November 25 in Arichat, councillors debated a proposal to have the municipality provide $5,000 for the half-kilometre trail which will run in and around the L’Ardoise-based health care facility.

District 5 councillor Jason MacLean told council the group overseeing the centre has applied for a Community Recreation Capital Grant for the $15,000 project, with a commitment from the provincial government to provide one-third of the funding. Along with one-third coming from local fundraising and business contributions, the group is looking for one-third from the municipality.

“It’s not a big ask,” MacLean said. “I will say that there are no sidewalks within my district, and obviously, they’re looking for a safe place for folks to walk throughout the entire year, and to promote the benefits of physical activity.”

MacLean said Richmond County’s recreation manager, Laurier Samson, did meet with the group in early October, but because there is no money left in the recreation budget, the request had to go to council.

In response to a question from district 1 councillor James Goyetche if there is provincial funding available for multi-purpose trails, MacLean responded that might require the formation of partnerships. He noted that $30,000 in trail development funding was already allocated to ATV clubs in Richmond County for trail improvement projects from the recreation department’s budget.

Along with the province’s financial support, the walking trail has received letters of support from organizations and businesses in the community, but if required, MacLean said he can provide council with more information, and the group in charge of the centre can provide more information on the project, and whether they need approval immediately.

Deputy Warden Alvin Martell said it is a “worthwhile” project but he is worried about the precedent that might be established by approving money from general revenues.

“Now that we discontinued the grants, are we setting a precedent by opening the door to giving, what I would say would be a grant?” Martell asked.

District 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher said a funding application should be made to the appropriate department, then it should be brought before council.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a grant like any other grant,” district 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher told council.

In response to a question from Warden Brian Marchand as to where in the budget the money would come from, MacLean said that during a meeting of the audit committee, two potential sources of funding were uncovered.

“There were two spots where $10,000 had been budgeted for special type projects and I don’t think that had been spent,” MacLean told council.

Council agreed with MacLean’s suggestion that they get more information from administrator Michelle MacPhee when she appears before council in December.

Although he agrees that this is a grant request, the warden added there is money available in the sundry account should council approve funding.