TRENTON — Local stakeholders are lauding the government funding for improvements at Trenton Park.
Cindy MacKinnon from Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores emceed the announcement last Friday of $3.8 million in government funding for the project.
She was accompanied by Jennifer Bethell from the Hemlock Group, who took part in the press conference, while the list also included Meghan Bragg from Public Health, Julie Martin from the Let Abilities Work Partnership Society, Sally O’Neill from Active Pictou County and Rae Gunn from Recreation Nova Scotia, Highland Region.
Central Nova MP Sean Fraser announced $2.2 million in federal funding, while Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines said the province will contribute $1.2 million. Municipal funding totals $254,518.
“This will make the park a tourism destination,” MacKinnon said. “We have one of the largest parks in Nova Scotia, so opportunities like this are huge.”
The project features an accessible playground that will include a recreation ground, upgraded pool and picnic area, renovated trails and increased parking.
Fraser said the project is the product of a federal decision to establish a stream of shared funding that means rural municipalities and provinces pay a smaller percentage of a project’s total cost. The federal portion rose to 60 per cent, while the provincial percentage is unchanged and the municipal amount is seven per cent.
“I can’t wait to see the fruits of their labours once the project is completed,” he said.
Bethell traced the Hemlock Group’s quest to enhance Trenton Park to the group’s formation in January 2013. The group has sought different ways to secure funds for the park prior to Friday’s announcement.
“It’s exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I truly think it is a game changer.”
Also included are renovated pedestrian bridges, ponds and fishing docks, as well as a fenced-in dog park and renovated canteen.
“This is great,” Bragg said. “I’m not limited where to walk my dog but this is a very engaging place. It’s going to be great to see it expanded.”
An overriding goal is to allow for the facilities to be universally accessible and to ensure the widest possible use and participation by people of all ages.
“This is such a huge opportunity,” O’Neill said. “What I’m most excited about is the attention to access because access is one of the biggest obstacles to recreation in Nova Scotia. I’m very excited to see what improvements will be made.”
Martin referred to those with seeing-eye dogs who will have a safe and appropriate place for their dogs to run and lauded Bethell’s work within the Hemlock Group to help make the funding for improvements a reality.
“It just shows what one person with a vision can do,” she said, regarding Bethell. “It’s nice to see people who are not just talking the talk but walking the walk. I’m proud to be a member of this community.”
Mayor Shannon MacInnis also praised the Hemlock Group’s work toward funding the project.
“This is a win for Pictou County,” he said. “The entire county will be forever grateful (to the Hemlock group).”
He said plans call for reopening the park’s campground service once the improvements are done and water and sewer upgrades can be completed.
From left: Julie Martin, Meghan Bragg and Arley MacFarlane stand with Bragg’s retriever Bella at Trenton Park. Recently announced upgrades to the park will include a fenced-in dog park. (Goodwin photo)