Shubenacadie Canal project takes shape, now it just needs signs

Members of the Shubenacadie Canal Commission will present details of the masterplan for downtown Dartmouth's canal greenway interpretation project on Thursday at Harbour East community council.

A couple of replicas of the machinery used in the 1800s on the canal have already been built on the site, located between Sullivans Pond and the harbour. It will include a series of interpretive panels.

Work on underground pipes in the area is expected to begin this spring and will bring an underground stream back to the surface near the canal greenway.

Members of the canal commission believe some signs are needed this year.

"We are planning on having a grand opening this fall when the site is finished," said Doug Brownrigg, chair of the canal commission's greenway committee. "So we need two or three panels and an entrance sign."

The total cost for that work is $86,450 but the rest of the interpretive signs envisioned for the entire site could cost another $500,000.

There is no timeline for when that work will be done or who will pay for it, but the local councillor for the area hopes there will be financial assistance from the provincial and federal governments.

"Hopefully we can spread the load out a little bit more," said Coun. Sam Austin. "This is not just any old site, this is a national engineering site."

The greenway will not just recognize the accomplishments of the Shubenacadie Canal but also the Starr Manufacturing Plant, which was set up on the site and made the first mass produced commercial ice skates in the world.

"Small skating rinks is an option," said Brownrigg. "There's original walls of the plant which could be exposed, and we believe the very famous skates need to be prominently displayed somewhere."

The use of the waterway on the site by Mi'kmaq as a transportation route before the Shubenacadie Canal was built will also be noted on an interpretive panel.