Two men in Pointe-Verte want to repurpose the village's 60-year-old elementary school and save it from demolition and disrepair.
Students at École Séjour-Jeunesse, the only elementary school in Pointe Verte, will go to school in nearby Petit-Rocher next year because their old school is closing. But Euclide Chiasson and his friend Jean Roy want to turn Séjour-Jeunesse into a community centre with a focus on trade workshops.
The idea came to them last year, while building a boat in Chiasson's garage.
"Out of that little project came the idea that maybe we could organize workshops to build more boats like that and we could do it in the school that's closing in the spring," said Chiasson.
Update building, cut costs
The building costs approximately $100,000 for the school district to run every year. But Chiasson believes by updating the heating system and electrical wiring the cost can be cut in half. The building now uses an oil furnace.
Additional income for the building could be provided by renting out unused rooms, he said.
"The province can remain the owner and you have a five-year lease," said Chiasson. "After five years, if everything goes well, the province usually turns it over for a dollar."
Chiasson and Roy envision a community centre and gathering place for the entire Chaleur region, from Allardville to Belledune.
"There's nothing like this here," said Chiasson.
Through public meetings held in Pointe Verte, Chiasson has learned some of the needs of the community are not being met, in part because of an exodus of young people.
Many of them move out west to work, so communities in the region lose people with certain skills.
"We met with some entrepreneurs that have construction businesses and they said the development of their business is limited," he said.
Some trades, such as plastering, flooring and brick-laying are also less popular in colleges, especially the colleges in Northern New Brunswick.
Chiasson said the new centre could help with training and keeping young people in the region.
"If we can take the people who know those trades and are retired, and they can help the younger people who are looking for work and looking to learn a trade, that can be a component of the whole thing," he said.