River association president wants new community centre built

·3 min read

ST. MARY’S – A new multi-purpose indoor centre tops the wish list of the St. Mary’s River Association’s president, as municipal staff near the end of the public consultation phase of the community’s first recreation master plan.

“I believe the single largest positive step our community could focus on [is] a facility [that] could include a gym, conference room and a small theater space,” Scott Beaver told The Journal in an email last week, adding that his submission was personal and not in his official capacity as president of the St. Mary’s River Association.

St. Mary’s Recplex on Old Mill Road in Sherbrooke provides a modern, multi-use facility that accommodates ice hockey in winter, floor sports in summer and a year-round walking track. It also undergoes periodic renovations to enhance it as a community centre.

But a new centre would offer more, Beaver said: “A multi-purpose community centre should provide programs for seniors, children and adults and it should support social events that bring people together like sports, non-profit meeting space and, of course, the arts.”

Trails, fly fishing and paddling were also on his mind. “The pristine St. Mary’s River and activities based around its drainage basin would be relatively inexpensive, is right under our noses and is in high demand within the tourism sector,” he said.

Specifically, he noted, an extension of the Stonewall Park trail system behind the St. Mary’s River Association Interpretive Centre to Nimrods Campground would open up new recreational opportunities. “Bikers, hikers and bird watchers [would have] access places [along] the west side of the St. Mary’s River,” he said, adding: “I believe linking the assets the campground provides via an accessible trail system to Historic Sherbrooke Village would dramatically change the tourist experience.”

What’s more, he said, promoting fly fishing is a no brainer for the area: “St. Mary’s has the only ‘barrier free fly-fishing’ site in the province. It may be the only one in the country. Provincial inland fisheries and SMRA have been stocking this river since 2015 with about 25,000 sea trout fry every year. We really do have a world class sea trout river right in front of us.”

Meanwhile, he noted, the SMRA has installed and maintains six access sites for paddlers along the Main, East and West branches of the river. Canoe and Kayak NS maintains digital mapping system – provided to the public through via its website – that covers St. Mary’s and Liscomb River paddling trails.

“A small investment in promoting what we already have could get many more people out and enjoy the river system as well as generate revenue in the tourism sector," he said.

St. Mary’s recreation master plan process kicked off in March and is soliciting recommendations for facilities and programming from the community until the end of this month.

According to the recreation department’s web page, “The resulting vision will enable meaningful and inclusive recreation experiences … based on the needs and values of the community. There will be additional engagement on the draft before the final Recreation Plan is set to be released in June of 2022.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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