MOUNT PLEASANT - Taxpayers are funding a refreshed sports field and new running track and trail on Liverpool Regional High School's (LRHS) property along College Street.
With funding split among three levels of government, the $2.75 million contribution helps pay to replace the sod of the soccer pitch with a new synthetic turf surface and build a new 400-metre eight lane gravel running track. New fencing and lighting will also be installed.
The project was announced Oct. 20 during a news conference on school grounds.
The commitment is an exciting development, six or seven years in the making, for current and future students of the school and the broader community, said LRHS principal Todd Symes.
Fundraising, submitting grant applications and conversations with government officials was continuous and relentless, Symes explained after the press conference. The effort "got to the stage where we are now, where everyone, kind of, came to the same agreement that it's long overdue and we willing to kind of move forward," he said.
"Right now, we have enough to move forward and break ground but there's some other parts that we'd like to add for sure and make it whole and have the students' dream ... reach its final part." Another $200,000 is being sought via fundraising, Symes said.
He credited the students for initiating the idea. Liverpool students saw the amenities provided by other schools and felt motivated to make changes to their home turf, so to speak. Several students attended the Oct. 20 news conference and applauded the announcement.
The money pledged by the province ($700,000), federal government ($1.8 million) and Region of Queens Municipality ($250,000) also funds the establishment of a Mi'kmaw learning trail, a new outdoor space on the school property. It will contain a water feature and have stopping areas marking the seven sacred teachings of the Mi'kmaw, Symes said.
The field and trail work will take place concurrently. "It wasn't a phased approach; it was more responsible to do it all at one time," Symes added.
Meanwhile, the work on the sports field will solve the persistent drainage issues that have plagued the site in the past.
"My hope is that the improved sports field and track will inspire current and future athletes from our community to strive to reach their potential, including our very own Special Olympics athletes," Nova Scotia Public Works Minister Kim Masland told the news conference.
Afterwards, she said she expects the procurement for the work will be released later this fall and finish next year.
"The big thing for us is we want to make sure we're providing a facility that people can use in our community," Masland, also the MLA for Queens, said in an interview. "Many of our athletes have to travel to Bridgewater to be able to adequately train, so, this will be able to keep people home and will also bring people here for events."
Region of Queens Deputy Mayor Jack Fancy said the announcement highlights the passion, perseverance and partnerships involved.
Infrastructure Canada didn't send a representative to the press conference.