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On your mark, get set, go! $3.5m track and field facility announced for Bridgetown

Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, and West Nova MP Colin Fraser announced a new $3.5-million new athletics complex for Bridgetown Dec. 20. Several young track athletes were on hand for the event. The outdoors facility will be built on the site of the former Bridgetown Regional High School.
Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, and West Nova MP Colin Fraser announced a new $3.5-million new athletics complex for Bridgetown Dec. 20. Several young track athletes were on hand for the event. The outdoors facility will be built on the site of the former Bridgetown Regional High School. - Lawrence Powell

BRIDGETOWN - A $3.5-million athletics track complex will be built in Bridgetown at the site of the recently demolished Bridgetown Regional High School.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and West Nova MP Colin Fraser announced the funds Dec. 20 in the boardroom of the community’s former town hall.

Fraser said the federal government’s investment of just over $1.1 million will build on Bridgetown’s sporting legacy. That money comes through the Small Communities Fund. The remainder, $2.3 million, will be invested by the provincial government, said McNeil.

The complex will include one artificial turf sports field, one natural grass field, an eight-lane track with jumping runways and pits, and other amenities to host provincial sports activities.

“This modern track and field facility will increase athletic opportunities for nearby students, residents, and visitors for generations to come,” said a media release.

“These investments in infrastructure have been critical to our area here in West Nova, and it boosts our economic prosperity, creates jobs, and makes a higher quality of life for all of our people,” Fraser said. “I’m so pleased that the rural infrastructure lens that our federal government has taken has really targeted small communities, and we know how important that is.”

He said those infrastructure investments are also about ensuring healthy and active lifestyles for people of all ages. “For our kids, for our seniors, for everybody,” he said. “It’s so important that we have healthy people in order to ensure successful communities.”

One-of-a-kind facility

“It’s an exciting build for this town, for this part of Nova Scotia,” said McNeil. “It will be a one-of-a-kind facility in Western Nova Scotia. When I look around and see all these young people here I look forward to seeing you continue to train.”

He noted there are about 30 youth from as far away as Yarmouth and the South Shore who come to Bridgetown to train. “We’re hoping that by building this new facility that not only will we continue to see you thrive in your athletic feats,” he said to the young athletes, “but we’ll have the chance to welcome young men and women from all across Nova Scotia to come and participate in sporting events at the new sports field.”

Several young track athletes and coaches attended the announcement, along with legendary local track coach Bill Hirtle, now in his 90s, and Dick Campbell, who coached track for 30 years. Bridgetown was home to Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame inductee Howie Jackson and the training spot for Olympian Jenna Martin.

Campbell was part of a local committee that with municipal recreation director Debra Ryan and others spent more than a year contributing to the facility design.

“I hope it will be a place that this town and surrounding communities will take pride in,” McNeil said. “To make it happen it took a lot of hands, it took a lot of hard work. The province has committed $2.3 million to add to the federal government contribution. I don’t have any problem defending this investment across this province. This will be an investment that will make a huge difference not only in this town but in other parts (of the province).”

Municipality to manage complex

McNeil thanked the Municipality of the County of Annapolis whose council and staff he said were part of the journey. “They will take on part of managing this facility, making sure that we can maintain it, making sure that the tennis courts … we’ll resurface them and put a new fences around them, continue to make sure the lights are working – that that facility will come alive again.”

He said the new facility will thrive not only as a great athletics facility but as an economic generator for the town and surrounding area.

“Athletics is one of the defining characteristics of this community, so we’re capitalizing on an existing strength,” said Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski. “The second thing is this is really a community lead initiative. The people who participated and brainstormed to develop the idea, we’re so grateful for the work you’ve done on behalf of your community. Without your passion this sort of project would never take shape. And third it involves participation from all three orders of government. That’s essential, the fact we have such a good working relationship with Stephen (McNeil), with the good working relationship with Colin (Fraser) at the provincial and federal levels. We couldn’t be doing the things that we’re doing if we didn’t have that strength of partnerships.”

McNeil, Fraser, and Hirtle unveiled an architectural drawing of the facility.

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