Gordon Sampson writes about the Victory Park concept in North Sydney.
Park concept will involve new green space on North Sydney waterfront
Just what is Victory Park, where is it situated, and why has the concept evolved?
Victory Park is a new concept introduced by a 10-member board of young people who are excited about developing a new green space on the waterfront in North Sydney. It lies between the Irving Garage and the Ballast Grounds, not including Blue Star Traders, and is a result of losing the former green space next to the Royal Bank.
Ryan Duff, a professional consultant on the Northside and chair of the Victory Park board, says after the CBRM mayor and council sold the green space next to Royal Bank Financial to CME (Canadian Marine Engineering ), “a group of us decided to work on the last possible vacant space to develop that part of the waterfront into a mixed-use recreational space.
“This is the last opportunity to capture a part of our downtown and hold it as a community,” he says.
The group called the area “Victory Park” to honour the victory bonfires held there to celebrate the ends of the First and Second World Wars.
The incorporated group wants to buy the land involved. They assume there will have to be some remediation; they don’t know yet how much. There will be an environmental assessment as part of the purchase process.
They haven’t yet found any government programs that will assist in purchasing the land; either they would have to own the land, or the government would have to, in order to get government funding.
The board met with MP Mark Eyking, MLA Eddie Orrell and CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke and council, all of whom are interested and supportive. Presently, the land is privately owned. So right now they are working on the assumption that they have to raise all of the money to purchase the land themselves.
So they are having a Mother’s Day draw, a Father’s Day draw and a concert to raise funds.
The Mother’s Day draw is a book of gift cards worth $495, the Father’s Day draw is a signed Eagles jersey, a dozen lobster and a $50 gift card from NSLC.
Board members and friends are presently selling the Mother’s Day draw tickets until May 10, while the Father’s Day draw tickets will be sold after May 15 at the concert.
The Victory Park Benefit Concert will take place on Sunday, May 21, at St. Joseph Church: doors open at 6 p.m. with the concert starting at 7 p.m.
They envision an all-inclusive playground (people of all abilities, wheel chair accessible, and so forth and they are being advised by an expert on accessibility), a green space, and commercial opportunities (food, beverage, clothes, merchandise).
The board wants to be selfsustaining, and they need to raise money themselves through events, crowd funding and corporate donations.
“We are looking at well developed waterfronts with seasonal kiosks for food and shopping, geared towards both residents and tourists, such as Digby, Mahone Bay, Spinnaker’s Landing in Summerside, Weymouth Street in Charlottetown, Lunenberg and Halifax. And, none of them have more than 300,000 people travelling through their town,” said Ryan.
They intend to leverage the Marine Atlantic ferry traffic, and bring them through town to enjoy the playground, green space and shopping; they see this as an opportunity for economic development.
“We are not going to operate or compete with businesses, rather we want to provide high quality space for local businesses to rent or lease.” Ryan says. “The revenue we generate from rentals will help pay for insurance, maintenance, and any surplus will go towards community needs.”
The 10-member Board of Victory Park includes Ryan Duff, chair; Kay Batherson, vice-chair; Heather Duff, secretary; Jim Dunphy, treasurer; Bill and Michele Nicholson; Mike Gillis; Gerard Carey; Paul Ross; and Marlene Brogan. Ryan Duff, Kay Batherson, Heather Duff and Jim Dunphy comprise the executive.
“Councillor for District 2 Earlene MacMullin has been a champion for the project in taking their needs to council,” Ryan says.
So, here we are with a young, ambitious, incorporated group out to improve this part of the Commercial Street area of North Sydney, in it for the long term, to benefit the entire Northside area.
Pictured above is the board of the Victory Park Society; from left to right sitting are Ryan Duff, chair; Kay Batherson, vice-chair; Heather Duff, secretary; board member Mike Gillis; second row from the left: board members Bill Nicholson, Michele Nicholson, Marlene Brogan, Gerard Carey, and Paul Ross. Absent from the photo is Jim Dunphy, treasurer.