Desire for a New Community Centre in Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Comes to Life Again—Citizens Meet

John Bignell
Address in the community about the BLT Community Development Project.

At the Ridgeview Middle School on December 8th, 2003, a small group of citizens participated in a round table discussion concerning recreation in BLT. They expressed frustration with the cost of rental space for community sports at the current Lakeside Community Centre and at the school. At this meeting, it was proposed by HRM staff that a “solution would be to build a new community centre with meeting space, small library, classroom and a gymnasium.” It was outlined that the long-term location for such a site could be located “somewhere in the vicinity of Exit 3 on the number 103 highway”. The Western Commons Study identified an area on the north shore of Otter Lake, near the newest interchange with Highway 3 for a park which could serve residents of this plan area, as well as neighboring communities in the region.

By 2010, in the final report for the Community Facility Master Plan, it was stated that “justification for a substantial centre for active recreation facilities in the Western Commons area appears to be waning.” This report didn’t sit well with many in the community, which prompted more recent discussions around updating and modernizing the Lakeside Community Centre and adding a community splash pad.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2016 that a small group of business owners, parents, and youth leaders started meeting and engaging our local government and HRM staff asking what happened to our dream of a small library and gymnasium. On the evening of February 26, 2017, this small group and the newly elected District 12 Councillor Richard Zurawski, was joined with a full room of concerned citizens that wanted their dream of a community centre fulfilled.

BLT Community Centre
Notes left from the community

Councillor Richard Zurawski, committed to working with BLT residents and hearing their thoughts on what a new centre would look like and what facilities might be offered. He stated that the first step is to request a Recreation Needs Assessment that will adequately provide the data needed to support the development. The needs assessment should include, but is not limited to, development of a community profile, data research and analysis of the community, interviews with key stakeholders and review of previous data and consultations on the recreation centre project.

As part of the design of the Multi – Year Budget and Business Plan development process Regional council in December 14, 2016 has approved in principle, the long term capital funding to support the Lakeside Community Centre Recapitalization with over 11 million invested by 2022/23.

MLA Iain Rankin also attended the meeting and outlined his commitment to working with HRM staff and Councillor Zurawski in supporting a new community recreation and cultural centre. At this time, no application has been submitted to the Provincial Government for a funding request for a new centre.

The meeting wrapped up with the community sharing ideas and their vision for a new community centre that could connect to the Blue Mountain–Birch Cove Wilderness area or the Western Commons Region for passive recreation options. Furthermore, it could provide economic rental and active recreational space within walking distance to Metro transit hubs and resident’s homes. Citizens also highlighted the need for cultural heritage featuring the unique community of Beechville and a place to share their community’s history. The ideas were written and shared on large sheets of paper that Councillor Zurawski will review after the meeting. The next scheduled meeting will be hosted in two months.

Originally published in the Masthead Newspaper – March 8, 2017:

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