The federal and provincial governments are kicking in a combined $810,000 toward a strategic study to redesign the Bridgewater Business Park.
Funding for the study is meant to assist Bridgewater in securing project management expertise and engineering services for the business park. It is also expected to create detailed designs for road and underground infrastructure, including traffic, fire protection, and water services, along with an environmental plan for the relocation of heavy industries.
Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan and Justice Minister Mark Furey made the announcement at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre (LCLC) July 8.
"With a new plan to reconfigure the park, the town can support additional industrial and manufacturing developments and reduce barriers to growth for companies in rural Nova Scotia, and those who want to move here," Jordan told the members of the media and Town of Bridgewater officials who had gathered at the LCLC for the announcement.
Jordan, who is also the MP for South Shore-St. Margaret's, made the announcement of the federal government's $500,000 contribution toward the study on behalf of Navdeep Bains, who is Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development as well as the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Currently, the park has over 50 industrial, light industrial, and retail businesses with approximately 1,350 full-time employees. As well, the park hosts public service sites, and administration offices as well as the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre, and Bridgewater Skate Park.
The minister said she has met with business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders across the country who are doing "incredible things outside the urban centres. Bridgewater stands out in that regard," said Jordan.
Jordan praised the town for following through on promises to make key investments aimed at increasing growth and improving quality of life of the community.
This particular funding announcement stemmed from Bridgewater's application for assistance, she said. "They were the ones who came up with the plans. And it meets with our goals and objectives to support them, so that's why we're supporting them with this funding."
Furey, the MLA for Lunenburg West, announced the province would contribute $310,000 toward the study.
"I said to the mayor this morning, decision makers are listening to what's happening in the Town of Bridgewater," recalled Furey, referring in part to the town's recent $5 million Smart Cities Challenge win.
The town's mayor boasted to the gathering that Bridgewater's recent Smart Cities Challenge win has meant "the spotlight is now on Bridgewater, both nationally and internationally. "
He said the town already has had keen interest from multiple established firms and start-ups. "And many are looking at our Business Park to put down their roots and build their Nova Scotian or Canadian presence."
The Bridgewater Business Park was designed almost 50 years ago an industrial park. Its layout does not support the needs of a more diverse industrial and commercial corporate community, while the current configuration is putting limitations on the potential for growth and provision of services, according to Mitchell.
He explained, for example, that the layout of the park is problematic with its large narrow parcels of land and road system which does not allow for an efficient flow of goods.
"New businesses, start-ups, they want a different kind of set up and it's just not conducive to that.," said the mayor.
The town council was expected to approve a call for a Request for Proposals for the design study at its meeting on July 8.