County council

Funding for community centres

By Corey LeBlanc    
December 16 2020

ANTIGONISH COUNTY – The Municipality of the County of Antigonish will provide a one-time $10,000 operating grant to nine community centres.

Council approved the funding recommendation from its committee of the whole during its regular monthly meeting Dec. 14 at the Municipal Administration Building on Beech Hill Road.

In conversation with reporters after the session, Warden Owen McCarron talked about how the facilities – which are located from Havre Boucher to Arisaig – have been feeling the strain of lost revenue due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.

“We have heard from them over the past few months about the challenges that they are facing,” McCarron said, noting the tireless volunteer effort by many that helps keep these centres healthy and vibrant.

He agrees not having the ability to host fundraisers – such as bingos and dances – has been crippling to their bottom line; some have been holding events, on a limited basis, while others have been shuttered completely.

“They are critically important,” McCarron says of the contributions the facilities – very much the lifeblood of their communities – and their volunteers make to the municipality.

He adds municipal officials hope this financial boost will help the centres “remain viable,” while helping them bridge the gap until activities ramp up again, hopefully, by spring or summer.

Even though there is less going on, McCarron notes that bills for things – such as heat and lights – continue to come in.

“Everyone really deserves a lot of credit for trying to be creative,” the veteran District 6 councillor says of the continuing work by those involved with the centres to generate revenue under such unprecedented circumstances.

Arisaig Parish Community Centre, Havre Boucher Community Centre, Heatherton Community Centre, Lochaber Centre, Mini-Trail Community Centre, Pomquet Fr. P.J. Baccardax Hall, St. Andrews Community Centre, St. Joseph’s Lakeside Community Centre and Tracadie Monsignor Donnelly Hall are the recipients.


Roundabout operating


The finishing touches are being completed on a roundabout, which recently opened to traffic, at the intersection of Beech Hill Road and Trunk 4 in Antigonish County.

“We are quite pleased,” McCarron says of the winding down of the long-awaited remedy aimed at addressing safety and traffic concerns.

He says everything “looks really good,” noting there are some “beautification pieces” to be completed.

McCarron adds Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (NSDTIR) officials expect line painting on the east bound lane of the roadway – weather permitting – to be completed by mid to late next week. With that done, they will then remove an existing detour between Beech Hill and South River roads.

Municipal officials, along with motorists and residents, have voiced concern about the intersection for several years, with the push for change ramping up last year, when three collisions took place in quick succession during early December.

A 41-year-old man from Toronto died in one of the accidents.


Back on the ice


As for the continued ramping up of activities at the Antigonish Arena, McCarron says everything is “going along pretty smoothly.”

He notes the Antigonish Arena Corporation – which is made up of community representatives, along with elected officials from the county and Town of Antigonish – has been “working our way through it,” when it comes to dealing with the challenges faced by the facility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

McCarron agrees arena users are also starting to “find their groove,” when it comes to the new commitments they must make in order to take the ice.

For example, he notes each user group must have a representative who controls – and records – the “comings and goings” of everyone associated with the team. They turn that information over to arena officials, in case contact tracing has to be carried out.

“Everyone has been very cooperative,” McCarron says.


Testing centre request


County and town officials have asked provincial health officials to consider setting up an asymptomatic testing site for COVID-19 on the StFX campus when students return after the holiday break.

McCarron says it would be a similar process to the one carried out at the start of the fall semester.

“It went quite well,” he notes.

McCarron was also asked about a pop-up testing centre that took place over the weekend on the university campus, which provided the change for asymptomatic people from the broader community to get tested for the virus.

He says county and town officials would be pleased if provincial health officials offered one again in the community.

“It provides another level of assurance,” McCarron offers of those types of testing opportunities provided for residents.

Municipal officials credited Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang for his prompt response to their request for another testing centre at the start of the winter university term, something that is now under consideration.