New community park years ahead of schedule

·2 min read

SHERBROOKE – Thanks to timely funding from the provincial government – including an $8,000 grant from Accessibility Nova Scotia earlier this month – a new wheelchair-accessible public garden is set to open by summer, years ahead of schedule, at Historic Sherbrooke Village.

“We applied last year for the grant and were very pleased to be recognized,” said Dana O’Connell of the Historic Sherbrooke Village Development Society.

“Our original expectations were to open in five or 10 years but, with the provincial stimulus package this summer and now with this grant, we’ve been able to move the goal post a lot closer. I can see the potential opening of the park in the spring.”

In June, Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister and Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines announced $994,000 in funding for Historic Sherbrooke Village to renovate its world-renowned heritage properties. Some of that money was earmarked to cover the final phases of the development society’s community park.

With grants, donations and proceeds from its operations totaling $25,500, the Society completed Phase 1 of the project – including excavation, fencing, and site planning – last year. Phase 2, which was estimated at $39,000 – includes electrical, water hook-ups, landscaping, plaza, and pathways – was finished in mid-September.

Phase 3, with a projected price tag of just under $91,000, involves: building raised flower beds; planting new trees; installing entrance gates, benches, picnic tables, and creating both a reading area and a rain garden.

“We are in Phase 3,” O’Connell said, “so now we are accessorizing the park. We just contracted out the gazebo, and we just set the ground work for our two main entrance points.”

O’Connell, a former serviceman in the Canadian Navy who semi-retired to Sherbrooke with his wife five years ago, spearheaded the rejuvenation because he thought the area needed a space for people – especially those who find getting around difficult – to congregate.

“A nursing home is only, maybe, 300 yards away, so wheelchair accessibility is a must,” he says.

“It gives people the opportunity to take their loved ones out to some place like this was one of the things that drove my interest and involvement from the start.”

As for the spring, he said, “We are hoping that COVID restrictions will be somewhat relaxed and we’re able to have a barbecue for the community, a kind of celebration. All indications so far are that the community is just in awe and just waiting for the opening. It’s been a wonderful journey, seeing it from beginning to end.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal