The joint relocation effort of the Antigonish Canadian Association of Community Living (CACL) and Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59, to the former National Philatelic Centre building on St. Ninian Street, received a big financial boost, Oct. 13, with the announcement of a federal government contribution of nearly $625,000.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser made the announcement, on behalf of MP Navdeep Bains – the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA), from CACL’s soon-to-be former home which is, literally, beside their new one.
“Construction is now underway on the project that will create two distinct, accessible spaces for the two organizations,” a press release, to accompany the announcement, noted.
“Funds will go towards a complete refit of the CACL space, including new interior walls, a commercial kitchen, woodworking rooms and more. The larger space will enable CACL to add new positions and increase its overall programming and production so it can help more adults with intellectual disabilities.
“The woodshop expansion will also allow CACL to extend the sale of Antigonish-made products across Atlantic Canada.”
The release also includes words from both municipal leaders; Mayor Laurie Boucher from the Town of Antigonish and Warden Owen McCarron from the Municipality of the County of Antigonish.
“The CACL and the Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59 are staples in Antigonish,” Boucher said. “It is partnerships like this and willingness to work together that are vital to creating a strong, vibrant and inclusive community.”
“The Municipality of the County of Antigonish has always been a strong supporter of the CACL and Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59,” McCarron said. “This funding announcement will help enhance both organizations and we are so pleased to partner with the Government of Canada on this initiative.”
Fraser also talked about the partnership in the release.
“This is a great pairing of two organizations that are renowned for their public service,” Fraser said.
“The CACL, Royal Canadian Legion and those they serve will benefit from this arrangement. These two important community organizations recognize the value of working together. And so does the Government of Canada. In cooperation with the Atlantic provincial governments, we are seizing the opportunity to work together to grow the middle class and improve the lives of all Canadians.”
Talking to reporters after the announcement, Fraser was asked about the former philatelic centre being repurposed.
“The location is more of a convenience than anything,” he said, referencing its proximity to the current CACL building. “I don’t think the plan was to find a building this close, but it certainly worked out well.
“And, certainly, there is some real history with this building. It’s not lost on me I’m standing in front of a plaque that was laid by the Honourable Allan J. MacEachern, just weeks after he has passed away; [laid] while he was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, while this building served as the philatelic centre.
“Long before I can remember, this building has been a representation of the federal government’s presence in Antigonish, so to have it come full circle, today, for me is meaningful. Just to know the federal government is investing in such a meaningful community project, in the same building which, for a long time, served a federal interest in this community, it’s special. The location has some history and it makes it an even more meaningful day for me.”
CACL executive director Jeff Teasdale and legion manager Alex Cameron talked about the benefits of the new building.
“The board of directors, participants and clients of the CACL are thrilled to achieve this great milestone,” Teasdale said. “With this support from government, community and business partners, we can advance our goals of supporting employment and vocational opportunities for individuals who are disadvantaged.”
“Legion members envisioned a social enterprise partnership that would add employment opportunities, services and value to the community of Antigonish,” Cameron said. “The move into the new facility will provide the ability for the legion to be more efficient through resource-sharing as well as create opportunities for new programming and increased membership, so that we can effectively continue to serve our veterans and community at-large.”
Asked about a timetable for their move, Cameron said the hope is to be in the new building by Christmas.
“Soft date right now of Dec. 8, for these guys being finished,” Cameron said of the construction. “But, even with the soft date of Dec. 8, that could be pushed back another week; so then we’re looking at a week to move from point A to point B, for both organizations. It’s not something that is going to happen overnight.”
Teasdale praised Fraser’s support which, he noted, has been there from day one.
“Mr. Fraser has been excellent and ACOA, on the ground working with us, has been fantastic too,” he said. “We wouldn’t be here without this; it’s our largest amount of funding and contribution.”