Several recreational facilities in the Halifax Regional Municipality will soon be getting a much-needed facelift.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay was in Halifax yesterday morning to announce $710,000 in federal funding for upgrades to a popular downtown rugby field, the Bedford Lion’s Club pool, and 21 basketball, tennis and ball hockey courts throughout the municipality.
“I think this is one of the most important investments we can make as a country, and as a province,” MacKay said.
The federal money will be coming out of the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program (RInc), part of the Tories’ broader economic stimulus plan. HRM will contribute approximately $1.2 million to the upgrades.
Several members of the Halifax Wanderers rugby club were on hand for MacKay’s announcement, and pledged to contribute $200,000 toward a major overhaul of the existing canteen on their main field — which will be completely refurbished and renamed the Wanderers Grounds Field House.
“It’s about longevity,” said Chapman Swaine, 26, captain of the Wanderers senior men’s team. “This money will give us an excellent place to develop the game within the city and the province, and really put (rugby) on the map so kids are seeing it and realizing that it’s a viable and exciting sport.”
Yesterday’s announcement came as a kind of consolation prize for the municipality, which was stuck with a bill for several million dollars when the feds backed out of the new four-pad hockey arena project in Hammonds Plains. Despite that disappointment, Mayor Peter Kelly said he’s happy to see any new federal cash streaming into HRM’s coffers.
“If there are still any unused dollars, we’re more than open to finding a spot where we can allocate them,” Kelly said. “We have other sports fields that we’re looking at, and we have projects for Citadel High’s auditorium, and a Porters Lake investment in schools … so we’ll take whatever we can get.”