Annapolis Royal’s new community hub officially opened its doors on Feb. 15 as a large crowd packed into the new facility that the mayor called ‘inspirational.’
The MP referred to it as a ‘library of opportunities.’
“There is a can-do spirit in our community that never ceases to amaze,” said Mayor Bill MacDonald after the event was proclaimed by town crier Peter Davies. “The Town of Annapolis Royal’s new Community Hub is a wonderful example of that spirit in action - with community partners coming together with the support of all levels of government to achieve the remarkable - beyond our expectations.”
He said what was originally conceived as a new and larger location for the town library blossomed into a “truly inspirational community space.”
“When we announced support for this project, I had no idea how spectacular this space would end up being,” said West Nova MP Colin Fraser. The original federal commitment through ACOA increased by $124, 840 to a total of $380,240.
“Now, this bright, open space houses a modern library to foster reading and learning, and it is also home to an auditorium, gymnasium and innovation lab with new technology that can be used by residents of all ages.”
MacDonald thanked town staff and the former town council, plus community members who spearheaded this project.
“And a special thank you to everyone who graciously contributed their time and money - without which the vision of this important community space could not have been realized,” MacDonald said.
“Strong communities are those that have a vibrant, innovative business sector, modern infrastructure, good jobs, clean and inclusive growth, skilled people and a thriving middle class.
I believe Annapolis Royal has all of those things in spades,” added Fraser.
He said spaces like the new Annapolis Royal Community Hub make it possible for everyone to access business and community resources to help boost creative thinking and facilitate continued economic growth.
The new community hub, valued at almost $1 million, serves not only the Town of Annapolis Royal, but the whole region, said MacDonald.
“The greatest strength that we have in rural Nova Scotia is our ability to be connected with each other’s lives,” said Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski. “That is what sets us apart. It’s the basis for a project like this – a community comes together and they develop a facility that supports community programming, lifelong learning, community innovation, physical activity, and we do it by coming together and pooling our efforts.”
He said the Municipality of the County of Annapolis is proud to have supported this project.
“It’s to the benefit of the town; it’s to the benefit of the county as well,” said Habinski. “This facility is marvelous. It will be a benefit to the region for decades to come.”
Eighty-five per cent of library card holders are from outside the town and the county made a significant financial contribution to the project.
Two thirds of the old Annapolis Royal Regional Academy, where the community hub is located, has been turned into condominiums while the remaining space houses the hub and the local food bank. The hub contains program rooms, the innovation lab, and the library itself.
Library as hub
CEO of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Ann-Marie Mathieu, brought congratulations from staff and board members.
“I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled we all are for everyone for this space,” she said, thanking the Friends of the Library and the town.
She noted since the new space opened in November it’s been busy.
“The performance measures, the statistics, the foot traffic, are off the charts, and I think I can say with all honesty that the Annapolis Royal Library has become the flagship for the AVRL,” she said.
Linda Moffat, past-president of the Friends of the Library thanked all who contributed to the project.
“We’ve worked with a number of partners over the past five years to bring about this incredible vision, and most of you, if not all of you, have very much been involved in that process. Together we have been able to raise $185,000 towards financing this wonderful (space).”
Current president of the Friends of the Library, Lillian Stewart, unveiled an installation of art and carpentry that honours the donors – a book shelf with inscribed books. Innovation Lab board member Gary Walsh was also on hand and thank all those involved.