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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let's support the Town of Yarmouth on the arts centre

Letters to the Editor.
Letters to the Editor. - SaltWire Network

YARMOUTH, N.S. – It is refreshing to see the Town of Yarmouth taking a significant leadership role in developing a major community facility for the area – a regional arts centre.

Groups I worked with in the past had to debate vigorously with councils for support for public projects. It is inspiring to see the town out ahead of this significant development. This is unique and should be praised.

It also saddens me to see that there are competing projects at work against the town proposal. To make the town project work will require support from senior (provincial and federal) governments. For every dollar senior government has available there are multiple requests. They shy away from projects surrounded by controversy. As long as there are moves to undermine what the town is doing, this project could slow down indefinitely.

By way of example, in the 1970s the need for a new rink was generally accepted. For a number of years there was an effort to make the new rink part of the downtown revitalization. At the same time there was another proposal to locate the facility at the agricultural grounds. With two competing proposals on the table the rink project was going nowhere. The two parties went to arbitration and it was determined to have the facility at the agriculture grounds. For most of the next 10 years the development of a new rink foundered. It wasn’t until 1995 when two relatively newcomers to Yarmouth took the lead that the current Mariners Centre was opened in 2001 – roughly 25 years from the time the need was determined. After a lot of energy spent fighting with ourselves! I see the same thing happening with the arts centre.

I moved to Canaan, Yarmouth County, in 1978, married Sandra Phinney and raised a family. In the past 40 years I’ve been the CEO of the Yarmouth Development Corporation, the Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission, the Yarmouth County Tourist Association, the YMCA Enterprise Centre and finally for 16 years, CEO of the YMCA of Yarmouth from which I retired in 2010. I have also been a volunteer board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, TREPA, and served as president of Th’YARC for a year and a half.

In these various capacities I was intimately involved with numerous projects that benefited the community. I only mention this to point out that in the course of moving these projects forward it was essential to have the support of local government. None of them would have happened otherwise.

But this time, what’s unique about the proposed new arts centre downtown is that the Town of Yarmouth is actually taking the lead on this because it is seen to be not only a showcase for the arts in the broadest sense of the word, but it will also contribute to the economic development of the town, enhance tourism potential, and benefit the entire region.

My advice is to support the town’s work on the arts centre project. Participate in its development as encouraged with the public meetings and working sessions. Plan to attend any upcoming meetings where the town will be sharing its plans.

This is not about winners and losers it’s about serving the community.

Barrie MacGregor,


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