DE­VEL­OP­MENT

Vic­to­ria Park So­ci­ety’s $3.7-mil­lion project has va­ri­ety of com­po­nents

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY CAPE BRETON POST STAFF

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

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.

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