Victoria Park Society’s $3.7-million project has variety of components
Victoria Park Society has new vision for downtown North Sydney.
A community groups sees a brighter future for a grass and scrap metal-filled field that overlooks a scenic spot along the Atlantic Ocean.
The group, known as the Victory Park Society, is looking to develop a three-acre plot of land on Commercial Street in North Sydney, between the Ballast Ground and the Irving station.
Their vision is to create a mixed-use area that will attract residents and visitors to the downtown area.
“Marine Atlantic moved their terminal. Now it butts right up against downtown,” said Ryan Duff, the society’s chair.
“There’s over 300,000 people that go through that ferry terminal every year and in my opinion we are not doing a good enough job of grabbing them and making downtown North Sydney a tourist draw that would encourage people to go downtown, spend some money, spend time and drive the local economy.”
The society’s vision is for an estimated $3.7-million project that will include kiosks for food, products and service vendors to rent and a mixed-use building that would provide year-round programming to community groups.
There’s also a green space, an outdoor playground and an outdoor music venue in the plans.
“We’d love to see someone come in and build a restaurant,” said Duff. “We would lease the land and someone would come in and lease the restaurant. What I would love to see is a waterside patio where you could just go get a beer or something like that.”
The society hopes to take a phased approach to the development of the proposal that could first include acquiring the land and then landscaping. That way, Duff said, large capital costs could be deferred until the park is up and running.
“It doesn’t have to happen at once. We are open, we are flexible to whatever gives it the best chance of it actually happening.”
Last month, the society made a pitch for support to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality during stakeholder budget consultation sessions.
Duff said council support is key to the early stages of the proposal.
“Even if there is no financial assistance we still need the municipality on board because that opens up everything else,” he said.
“If we go to even local companies, or the province or the feds, and we are asking for help and they say ‘even your own municipality isn’t involved’ it’s pretty hard to make that argument.”
There’s still the hope for municipal financial assistance, he noted, but in-kind help in the form of drafting, planning and zoning would go a long way.
“There’s all kinds of interactions with a municipality a development like this will have, many of which will have a cost. The more we can bring that down, the easier it will be to make this a reality.”
Duff said the Jan. 20 presentation to council was positively received. He’s hoping to set further meetings with elected representatives in the near future.
“We are not going to the CBRM and saying ‘here we have this idea, we want you guys to do this,’” he said. “We are saying, ‘we have this idea, we are going to drive it and we just want your help.’
“The development would be owned and maintained by the Victory Park Society. We want it to be self-sustaining.”
Fundraising ideas are in the works and are expected to be announced in the near future.
Visit the group’s Facebook page, Victory Park Society, for further details and project updates.
This is one view of a site which the Victory Park Society hopes to develop into a mixed-use area. The three-acre site is set between the Ballast Ground and the Irving Station in North Sydney.
Another view of a site which a North Sydney group hopes to develop into a mixed-use area. The three-acre site is set between the Ballast Ground and the Irving Station.