Sherbrooke Village seeks local support for ACOA grant

·2 min read

SHERBROOKE – Historic Sherbrooke Village has asked municipal council for a letter supporting its application to the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) for a grant that could be worth as much as $1 million.

The money would be used to kickstart the Rural Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Sustainability (RICHES), a program designed to expand cultural tourism and stimulate community economic development in the area.

Earlier this year, the living museum received nearly $1 million from the provincial department of Culture and Heritage both to repair many of its historic buildings and leverage matching funds from ACOA under an existing economic development formula.

Sherbrooke Village’s Executive Director Stephen Flemming was not available for comment, but Marvin MacDonald, Chief Administrative Officer of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, confirmed the museum head issued the request during a presentation to the committee of the whole meeting (COTW) on Nov. 18. “His ask to council was just a letter,” he said. “There was no specific funding request [that] night.”

In an interview earlier this month, the village’s Director of Visitor Experience Robin Anderson said the funding application, “has been put across the desk of ACOA for final review and recommendation. All indicators are that they are encouraged.”

She added that the initiative will also require a municipal and/or private sector component. “Certainly, the top priority now is the development of some sort of fundraising committee,” she said.

In other business, the COTW also heard from Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) Executive Director Charles Vinick, who recently completed a two-week stint in self-isolation at a Halifax hotel after arriving from his California headquarters late last month. “His presentation was great,” MacDonald said. “It was just an opportunity for him to report on where the project is and address a few questions from council.”

Vinick represents a multinational effort to relocate beluga whales – rescued from marine captivity across North America – at a special coastal refuge near Port Hilford. Over the past several months, the initiative has generated extensive international coverage and broad support within the local community.

“They (WSP) are going to be moving into the permitting stage and there’s going to be some investigation into what permits are required and that type of thing,” MacDonald said.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal