MERIGOMISH – In a cold church basement, dozens of people gathered Tuesday to hear some heartwarming news.
Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Regional Minister for Nova Scotia announced Government of Canada support to assist in much-needed renovations to the Merigomish Community Centre.
“Our government is committed to supporting initiatives that lead to economic growth in this region, our province, our country,” said MacKay. “Our government’s investment helps create jobs, growth and supports the prosperity of this community for years to come.”
The $114,854 investment will support a number of much-needed renovations to the former one-room schoolhouse, including improvements to the basement, siding, windows, insulation, roofing and interior finishes, as well as eco-friendly upgrades to the heating, lighting, water and electrical generation systems.
The Merigomish and Area Recreation and Social Association (MARSA) is championing the project.
Peter Radcliffe, president of MARSA, has been with the project since its beginnings in 2007. “We’d hoped to have a multi-purpose building open to the entire community and with this announcement we’ll be doing just that.”
Radcliffe envisions the community centre as a place for people to gather and use on a daily basis.
“Our mission is to promote the betterment of community life through recreation,” he said “These important upgrades to the Merigomish Community Hall support that mission by creating an improved, eco-friendly space for residents to gather and engage in community activities.”
The renovated facility will increase the community’s capacity to host community-planning meetings, celebrations and training events, while serving as an informative local demonstration of green technologies.
Local resident Mary Gorman, a longtime marine activist, was thrilled at the announcement. “It’s uplifting that Peter MacKay is focusing on the important needs of the area,” she said. “For our coastal communities and tourism, this project gives us a glimmer of hope. ”
Kelly McVicar is the community development officer of Pictou County Development Agency (PCDA) and steward of the Pictou County’s Regional Economic Development Strategy, which gave rise to MARSA.
“The Municipality of Pictou County is a proud supporter of the Merigomish Community Centre project,” she said, noting the municipality has set aside $25,000 over two years for the project.
Sage Energy and Scotian WindField have donated solar panels while Central Home Improvement has offered substantial discounts.
“It should also be noted that this community has come together to donate around $55,000 worth of labour hours,” McVicar said.
Money from the government comes from The Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF), which supports projects that look to improve existing community infrastructure.
MacKay said the upgrades and renovations will make the Merigomish Community Centre a hub of activity. “Community centres are the lifeblood of rural communities and this centre will have a huge difference in the quality of life for people here.”