GUYSBOROUGH, N.S. - In the 1980’s movie Field of Dreams, the famous line is ‘if you build it, he will come.’
The ‘it’ in that case was a baseball field and the ‘he’ was ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson, a former Chicago White Sox great.
Now, if you replace the ‘it’ with something more plural and the ‘he’ with ‘they,’ you could be talking 2018 and the opening of the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex (CLC) in Guysborough which includes, amongst its many attributes; a turf soccer field and four-lane running track, a fitness centre, refrigerated shinny rink and skating loop, an elementary-sized gymnasium which can be converted to hold many functions, recreation staff office space and a new location for the Guysborough Options for Adaptive Living Society (GOALS).
A grand opening celebration for the CLC took place June 29 in the gymnasium which was filled to capacity and saw many people standing in the lobby, just outside the gym’s entrance, to listen to the celebratory speeches.
Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) chief administrative officer Barry Carroll emceed the event and amongst those speaking were; MODG Warden Vernon Pitts, Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines, Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, CLC steering committee chair Randy Avery and donor Steve Smith, a MODG native (from Hazel Hill) whose generous support has been recognized by having the soccer and track field named in his honour.
Guest speakers for the event included Graham Kennedy, St. F.X. men’s and women’s soccer head coach, and NHL player Logan Shaw, a Glace Bay native who split last season between the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens.
“It has been a long time coming but it’s a day that is very well deserving for all our residents and council … it’s great to see it finally happening,” Pitts said, talking to the Casket after the ceremony.
“It just amazed me how it all came together,” he added, when asked about the process of bringing the CLC to the community.
“When it starts out, there are voices from here, there and everywhere and it’s hard to see the overall scope but, after a while, things start coming together.”
Pitts said he can’t really put his finger on the most impressive part of the complex.
“I think the biggest things are going to be our soccer field as well as our figure-eight skating track … that’s unbelievable,” he said, agreeing the CLC is a highlight of his career in municipal politics.
“This is a hallmark for all of council,” Pitts said.
Hines, who is also the former warden for MODG, talked about the crowd on-hand for the ceremony, noting it would have likely been even bigger, had it not been raining hard most of the morning.
In his time at the podium, Hines talked about the CLC being a confidence-booster for the area.
“If people don’t believe in themselves then they can’t accomplish much; I think for a long, long time, people in this area had difficulty believing in themselves and if you don’t believe and try, you’re not going to accomplish anything,” he said.
“Building that community spirit and self-esteem, this is what this facility is all about; it’s what we’ve been working on and it’s what I’ve been telling people – you have to reach beyond apparent capabilities to achieve.”
Hines noted a wall in the complex which has, in an impressive graphic, every community in the MODG listed.
“It enlivens all of those communities,” he said. “Makes them feel positive, like they can accomplish something and it makes people from the outside reflect that feeling back, as opposed to reflecting a feeling of Guysborough is a dead-end, can’t do anything.
“This is a signal to the world; this is a good place to be, a great place to live. Come here, we have a lot of other opportunities coming on the economic front.
“At the end of the day, this is a piece of social infrastructure, an extremely important piece; because in today’s environment, we’re all competing as communities and people expect this type of facility, almost as a minimum. Now we have it.”
Cuzner said it’s a great day on a couple of levels.
“This facility, it’s unique, special,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of places [as a MP] and I’ve been in the recreation business before that, but it’s just the unique nature here; I know the community is taking a great deal of pride in it.
“They had a couple of projects on the board which had fits and starts but, once they had this plan, they had something that fit. They went out and chased it, they kept it alive in the minds of the broader community, and I was fortunate that when it came time to seek federal support for it, we were able to be there for them.”
Cuzner praised Smith for stepping up in a big way.
“He is such a kind and generous person in the community; he was one of the first guys people in this community looked to when there was something going on, and one of the first who stepped up,” Cuzner said.
“In order for a community to grow and prosper, whether it’s business you’re trying to attract, or investment, or professionals who come with a young family and want things for their young family to be able to engage in and live a full life, this is what [the CLC] brings.”
Asked about the day, Avery said he was “giddy.”
“A major feeling of accomplishment, pride and excitement,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous effort from everyone involved; people from the original group 10 years ago to a group that even went door-to-door, all the way to Auld’s Cove, asking [for support] at every house, all the way down. That type of effort is what made this come to fruition today.”
Arguably the biggest cheer on the day came when Kennedy announced he was going honour a pledge he made to Avery about playing university soccer on the new field, if and when it was built.
“You have Randy to thank for that,” Kennedy said, after announcing the X-Men and X-Women will face their University of Cape Breton counterparts in Guysborough, Sept. 1.
Kennedy also spoke about a former X-Men player from Guysborough, Brandon Dort, who faced a lot of hurdles to reach the U Sports level coming from rural Nova Scotia. He noted the first hurdle was believing he could excel to that point.
“His story would be very hard to replicate, until now; things have changed her in Guysborough,” Kennedy said.
“This field is important; it’s important because it’s going to create dreams and aspirations in the youth of Guysborough. Our young people, like Brandon, need to think big. They need goals, ambition and purpose; facilities like this create opportunity and give dreams and goals a chance.
“For many youth, their goals, aspirations and dreams provide direction and give them more guidance than any coach, teacher or parent. Goals are a road map that guide and support in a way no person can.
“Facilities like this, fields like this, are not a luxury, they’re not an extravagance, they’re the bedrock of a community.”