2020-09-16

Bridgewater shuns heritage centre’s land donation request

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>A screengrab of a cover page included with the heritage group&#8217;s written proposal.</p>

A land donation request from a non-profit group looking to develop a heritage schooner and antique vehicle-oriented heritage preservation centre fell flat during a recent Bridgewater Town Council meeting.

Barry Dorey submitted a proposal to council on behalf of the Friends of South Shore Heritage Skills and Restoration Society. It called for a "working museum area and gallery where all things heritage restoration - old wooden boats, antique cars, old furniture, traditional skills - can be housed, worked on, explained, celebrated and displayed in a single location."

The group asked council to donate two hectares of town-owned Cook Road property in the business park to them, so they could house a museum, diner, and store, along with a schooner drydock building, storage building, and a garage.

"The society has an ambitious goal and its members are keen to move quickly while momentum is steady and enthusiasm is high. There are numerous dominoes that realistically need to fall in tandem to prevent the approval process from dragging on for years instead of months," the proposal reads, in part.

"If the project succeeds in preserving heritage skills and generating some occupational and volunteer goodness, while at the same time creating a tourism asset and helping people access important government services, it will have been a terrific success," the proposal suggests.

Dorey's organization estimates start-up costs at over $1 million.

The market value of the land for which the group asked is $200,000, Bridgewater's chief administrator, Tammy Crowder, told a recent council meeting when the proposal was discussed.

Among other steps in the approval process, Bridgewater would have to follow provincial legislation and have a public hearing if civic politicians determined an interest in donating the land.

The absence of a document outlining objectives and strategies doomed the proposal.

Town staff wanted to see a feasibility study and analysis and a detailed business plan outlining the capital and a projected operating budget to demonstrate the financial viability.

Council passed a motion directing staff to respond to Dorey advising that council does not have interest in pursuing this matter further.

"As much as I may love the idea," Mayor David Mitchell said, "it's impossible to make a decision in the positive without the business plan to see if it even can be completed."

Mitchell wished Dorey and his group the best of luck. "I needed a business plan. I think council felt the same way as well."

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