Saturday was a happy one for seniors throughout the county.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser was on something of a mini tour throughout the riding, unveiling four major funding announcements in Pictou County related to the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
The program is a federal program through the Ministry of Families, Children and Social Development aimed at providing community-based funding to projects led or supported by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities.
Fraser’s first stop was the Stella Maris Parish Hall in Pictou. Fraser chatted informally with a small group of regulars and learned from Fred Dobson the building’s history, its formerly dilapidated state and the rebirth the building has experienced in the past few years.
Through the NHSP, Stella Maris received $25,000 which will be used to repair the building’s chimney, lay gravel and purchase and install stage curtains and a sound system.
The appropriately named New Horizons Club was stop two. There, Fraser spoke to members of the Pictou County Council of Seniors and announced $15,692 in funds. The group will use the funds to purchase a PA system as well as assist seniors clubs, recruit new members and promote activities for seniors.
The Plymouth Community Centre received $22,252 which was used to install four heat pumps in the building.
Ila MacKenzie, president of the Golden Glen Senior Citizen’s Club, which uses part of the community centre as its base, explained the club used to meet in members homes and later the nearby Plymouth Fire Hall before the community centre reopened in 2010.
The club uses their space for card parties while other groups use the building on a regular basis.
MacKenzie said previously, the centre had no method of cooling the building down while space occupied by the seniors had electric heat with the rest of the building heated by furnace.
She said that without the summer cooling and winter heating offered by the heat pumps, use of the centre by any group “would have been limited.”
The Lansdowne Outdoor Recreation Development Association received $12,705 to purchase a hitchable wood chipper and a tipping utility trailer.
Paul McCulloch, current president of LORDA Park, said the two new devices will greatly aid the maintenance of the park.
“When you’re trying to maintain a property you have constant regrowth of shrubs and small trees and that type of thing,” McCulloch said. “You’re constantly cutting these down every two to three years. When you have this kind of acreage you start accumulating a lot of material.”
McCulloch said hiring an outside contractor can be costly.
“The big thing is to have equipment to allow you to be self-sustaining.”
McCulloch said that many of the volunteers at the park are seniors.
“Substituting the younger manpower with equipment that can do the job is very important to us,” McCulloch said. “Manual labour when you’re older just gets very difficult. You either hire contractors or you get equipment to help with what you’re trying to do.”
“The equipment allows them to be independent.”
The mulch, meanwhile, is largely otherwise useless spruce. McCulloch said that the mulch made from the chipped wood will degrade into ready for garden use compost in a four to five year timespan and could be quite valuable as either a marketable product or for use as compost within the park and is a perfect example of the self-sustaining the new equipment can provide.
Others areas in the riding also received funding.
LORDA’s Dave Leese, left, joined by his son Dave, talk with Central Nova MP Sean Fraser about the park’s new utility trailer. (Cameron photo)