Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald tosses a puck in the air after announcing $10 million for Colchester Countys civic centre project. From left are Truro Mayor Bill Mills, MacDonald and Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor.
TRURO - Colchester County's regional civic centre is $10 million closer to reality after Premier Rodney MacDonald dropped off a sizable cheque on Monday.
"This is a tremendous day for the people
of Truro and Colchester County," MacDonald said following his address to about 70 people, including municipal councillors, recreation officials and civic centre committee members.
"This brings the recreational facilities to a whole other level for this region."
The project is anticipated to cost $35.5 million, including $2.4 million for upgrades to Colchester Legion Stadium, and include an NHL-sized ice surface, seating for more than 2,500 people, a pool and a walking track among other amenities.
The idea of such a project has long been discussed and caught fire as the central piece to the region's bid to host the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
After the Games were awarded to Halifax, work continued behind the scenes to have the centre become reality. The province's $10-million commitment has given the project momentum.
"This is certainly a great foundation to move forward," Truro Mayor Bill Mills said following the announcement.
"I think everything is lining up very good and I'm very optimistic that we're going to see something happening within the next year as far as the ground breaking is concerned."
The addition of a civic centre will bring Colchester County in line with other communities such as Springhill, Yarmouth, Port Hawkesbury, Antigonish and Summerside, which all have new facilities.
The centre is expected to enable the region to host medium-sized conferences, entertainment acts and make the region a destination point.
"Our civic centre project will be more than just another rink or pool," said Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor. "It will become the place for our community to gather, a place where we can promote active living."
The civic centre became an oft-delayed project as the town and county could not agree on specific components.
The premier told the two sides this summer it was time to co-operate or the funding could go elsewhere.
While MacDonald never placed a deadline on getting things in order, he said, there was a "strong indication" the project needed to move forward. "That message was taken seriously and we see the result of it today," Mills said.
The civic centre's proposed location is across Abenaki Road from the new hospital site.
"We're waiting word from the province; first if it's available and what the price tag is going to be," Taylor said.
MacDonald was non-committal when asked if it would offer the land free of charge.
"I'll leave that for another day," he said.
Another big component missing from the project is federal funding.
Jon Stanfield, the civic centre committee's fundraising chairman, said it would be
meeting with MPs Bill Casey and Peter
MacKay, ACOA minister, about funding for the project.
"As soon as the application is made I know it will receive every consideration. There is a lot of precedent set for projects like this," said Casey, Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP.
Stanfield said a capital fundraising campaign is likely to start in the spring.
The county and town will split the municipal funding component, 60 to 40 per cent, respectively.
MacDonald said the province's $10 million is the maximum it would provide.
The provincial money is coming from
the B-FIT program, which was introduced in 2007 and will invest $68 million during 10 years to construct sport and recreation infrastructure.