A vic­tory for North Syd­ney

Pro­posed down­town park touted as ‘cat­a­lyst that re­ju­ve­nates North Syd­ney’

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

The pub­lic got its first look at a planned park that a com­mu­nity group says would trans­form North Syd­ney’s water­front and re­vi­tal­ize its down­town dis­trict.

The Vic­tory Park So­ci­ety un­veiled its plans to turn a vir­tu­ally va­cant lot be­tween the Bal­last Grounds and the Irv­ing gas sta­tion on Com­mer­cial Street into a vi­brant out­door gath­er­ing spot.

Group chair Ryan Duff showed the ap­prox­i­mately 60 peo­ple gath­ered at Emera Cen­tre North­side on Thursday night the pro­posed de­sign for the one-acre prop­erty. Pre­pared free of charge by architects at Ek­istics Planning and De­sign in Dart­mouth, the plan fea­tures a board­walk that runs the length of the park from the street to the har­bour.

In be­tween there’s an ac­ces­si­ble play­ground, splash pad, large com­mu­nity fire pit, food truck plaza, kiosks and mar­ket stalls for lo­cal ven­dors, out­door seat­ing un­der trees, rope lookoff deck and a float­ing dock for boats to tie up.

The es­ti­mated price tag for the park is $1.3 mil­lion, not in­clud­ing the cost of the land. Duff said that in­vest­ment would pay off by bring­ing more of the 300,000 pas­sen­gers who travel on Ma­rine At­lantic fer­ries each year into the down­town.

“We need some­thing that re­ally pulls them down­town and holds them there and sup­ports the busi­nesses,” he said.

The owner of the prop­erty has agreed to pull it off the mar­ket un­til May 2019 so the Vic­tory Park So­ci­ety can raise the money to buy it.

They are still hop­ing to even­tu­ally se­cure the neigh­bour­ing twoacre lot but de­cided to go ahead with their plans for the smaller par­cel, which Duff said is more than ad­e­quate for the park.

“I want to step back from por­tray­ing this as a re­ally small piece of land that we’re try­ing to get by with and squeeze stuff in there where it doesn’t re­ally fit — that’s not the case at all. It’s a one-acre site, which is still a good size and we can com­fort­ably get ev­ery­thing that was on our must-have list,” he said.

“Even when you drive by it, it’s re­ally hard to get a sense of how big it is. To get a sense of how big it is, you have to walk down there, walk down by the wa­ter and look back to the street, and it’s amaz­ing when you do that. We were shocked.”

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Dist. 2 Coun. Ear­lene MacMullin said the park has the abil­ity to change North Syd­ney’s fu­ture.

“That may sound a lit­tle big for a park, but in all real­ity with the planning we’ve done and the lo­ca­tion of the park, and work­ing with the busi­ness com­mu­nity and work­ing with other non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, be­cause Ma­rine At­lantic is on one end and that is lit­er­ally the last piece of prop­erty that’s on our down­town, it wraps it up so nicely that it will ac­tu­ally con­tain peo­ple down there,” she said.

“We’re al­ready known in North Syd­ney as the food hub — we have some darn good restau­rants over here — and we have peo­ple com­ing from all over CBRM, dif­fer­ent parts of the is­land, to take en­joy­ment in that. We have 300,000 (ferry pas­sen­gers) that come through ev­ery year that are start­ing to re­al­ize that North

Syd­ney’s got a lit­tle some­thing. Our dif­fi­culty with the pas­sen­gers right now is that they only come out so far. With that park be­ing lo­cated where it is, that’s the op­por­tu­nity that North Syd­ney’s needs to in­crease the rest of the down­town, to help the busi­nesses, to put more money in, to put more foot traf­fic, that can lit­er­ally re­ju­ve­nate our en­tire town. That could be the cat­a­lyst that re­ju­ve­nates North Syd­ney.”

Duff said the Vic­tory Park So­ci­ety, which formed af­ter the sale of Archibald’s Wharf in North Syd­ney, is al­ready work­ing to raise the undis­closed amount of money needed to pur­chase the one-acre prop­erty.

The group is host­ing a golf tour­na­ment on June 23 at Seav­iew Golf and Coun­try Club in North Syd­ney, and also has a weekly flea mar­ket at the Com­mu­nity Cares Youth Out­reach

fa­cil­ity in Syd­ney Mines.

Duff said the plan is to buy the land, then turn to gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate spon­sors to help pay for the park it­self.

“Be­cause we don’t own the land yet, that’s re­ally a com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor in get­ting gov­ern­ment money,” he said. “Once we own the land, it’s time to pony up.”

SUB­MIT­TED BY EK­ISTICS PLANNING AND DE­SIGN

This con­cep­tual im­age pre­pared by Ek­istics Planning and De­sign shows a planned park on one acre of land be­tween the Bal­last Grounds and the Irv­ing gas sta­tion in down­town North Syd­ney.

MacMullin

Duff

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