Recreational funding in Nova Scotia is on hold after the province burned through 10 years of funding in under four years.
The government announced yesterday it had completely exhausted the $68-million B-FIT program. When it was announced in 2006, it was supposed to last for 10 years.
‘There is an explanation for this, and the explanation is there was a lot of pent-up demand … because there hadn’t been really a significant infrastructure program in Nova Scotia for some time for recreational facilities,” said Health Promotion Minister Maureen MacDonald.
MacDonald said only $6 million of the fund was left when the NDP came into power. But she didn’t admonish the Tories for spending the money.
“These projects around the province are good projects. If you look at the list, they will meet the needs of Nova Scotians for many years to come,” she said.
“The public will have to be the arbiters, I guess, of whether that money was wisely spent.”
There were 13 proposals outstanding when the fund ran out of money, but MacDonald said the government is now going to “take a break” from spending on new facilities, citing the province’s deficit.
Former health promotion and protection minister Chris d’Entremont confirmed the previous government fast-tracked spending to take advantage of matching federal stimulus dollars.
“The economy started taking a downturn, so we figured that’s money that’s sitting there, let’s ramp it up and get people working,” he said.
“There was all kinds of federal dollars that we could match up with. It was money sitting there waiting to be spent, so why not move that up?”
So far, 36 projects have received funding through the program, with two left to be announced sharing the final $4 million. Of those, 22 received funding from the federal government.