While a more official announcement is expected from the provincial government, as they announce funding for the project, Municipality of the County of Antigonish Warden Owen McCarron couldn’t let Canada 150 slip by without announcing a legacy project which will benefit all citizens in the area.
With representatives from both Antigonish town and county councils on stage at St. Andrew Junior School, as well as Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey, Chief Paul Prosper of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation and school Principal Glenn Austen, McCarron noted the county’s recreation department came up with an idea for a structure to be built on the junior school’s grounds, which would be sheltered and could be used for a multitude of purposes.
“We felt it was fitting to have something that would represent a wide scope of community uses,” McCarron told the Casket, following the announcement.
“We’re going with a building that’s going to be covered, sheltered, and we have all the partners; the province, the town, on-board, along with the school board. It makes it a really fitting project and, sort of, in a central spot of the community.
“We’re really looking forward to the construction phase and that will be happening once the more formal announcement is made by the province.”
McCarron said they’re hoping to get started “fairly soon” with the project.
“We’re thinking within a four to six-month window, is kind of the hope to have it done,” he said. “It will be something to have in the community for a lifetime … part of the Canada 150 which is great.”
The partners on the project spoke briefly during the announcement with Delorey being very brief, noting he didn’t want to scoop the upcoming official announcement.
“I’ll just say the province is pleased to partner with this initiative,” he said.
Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher talked about the benefits of partnering on projects.
“When the request came to town council to support this project, become a partner, it was a unanimous decision,” she said.
“We thought; what a great idea to create a legacy for Canada 150 where the children can use it, from both the town and county. And it shows, once again, we can do so much better when we partner together with our friends and neighbours; we’re a stronger community when we cooperate together,” she added, praising county personnel for putting the idea forward.
“It’s a fantastic initiative,” she said.
Austen, representing the Strait Regional School Board for the announcement, echoed the mayor’s sentiment.
“Effective partnerships result in gains for all parties,” he said.
“I can say, with confidence, the addition of a multi-use outdoor facility is one that is a huge gain, not only for the students and staff at St. Andrew Junior School, but the entire school community in the town and county of Antigonish.
“I believe our students benefit when we can provide learning opportunities beyond the classroom walls and the addition of a structure, which can be used as an outdoor classroom, a stage for performances and concerts, will do that.”
Austen concluded his remarks with a famous movie-line reference.
“In the movie Field of Dreams, it was said ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Looking out at the crowd today and seeing so many former, current and future St. Andrew Junior School students and parents, I know this structure will provide us with a wonderful meeting place for a variety of events.”