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Mayor Scott remains confident in Springhill school project

SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott remains confident in the province’s plan to build a new elementary school in Springhill.

Responding to news the school project is behind schedule and over budget, the mayor said the important thing to remember is the province has made a commitment to the community and is following through on that promise, even if it’s taking longer than hoped.

“I’m very happy the province is moving ahead with a new school for Springhill even if it is $8 million over budget,” Scott said on Monday, July 25. “Given today’s environment, with labour issues, supply chain issues and the cost of materials going up, it’s understandable how it’s going to cost more than originally budgeted.”

In December 2020, the Municipality of the County of Cumberland transferred a piece of land on Princess Street, south of All Saints Collaborative Emergency Centre, to the province for the new school, which will replace two aging facilities in West End-Memorial and Junction Road Elementary.

The original completion target was for September of this year, but construction tenders came over budget.The need for a new school was first acknowledged in 2013 and promised in 2018 during a provincial byelection.

The project was slowed over site selection issues surrounding some preferred sites, including one adjacent to the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre due to geotechnical issues related to the community’s coal mining heritage.Princess Street was selected as the site of the new school in May 2020 and signage was erected on the site announcing it as the location for a new Springhill elementary school.

The mayor said he appreciates the effort the province is putting into fulfilling its promise to the community and said he and Cumberland South MLA and Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton have an excellent working relationship when it comes to the school project.

“I want to give credit to our MLA for never backing away from this project and making sure it continues,” Scott said. “We’ve talked about it a lot about this project over the last few years and he’s been a strong advocate for it, even when he was in opposition.”

Scott said there is no questioning the need for the school, adding both elementary schools are showing their age and need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Rushton said the project remains a priority. He remains committed to seeing the school built as close to the original timeline as possible.

“I’ve long had the commitment that this school will be build and the issues that we’re facing now will be resolved,” Rushton said. “When the tenders came in, they were over budget, there was a commitment, and the minister of Public Works (Kim Masland) came to me and said we’re going to get through this and Springhill is going to get a school.”

Both Rushton and Scott understand there has been some apprehension in the community with little activity on the Princess Street site, but both want to reassure people the project remains a priority. Rushton said there are delays with a number of construction projects in Nova Scotia because of an ongoing labour shortage as well as an increase in the cost of building materials brought on by supply chain issues.

“Springhill needed that school in 2013 when it was first promised and the need for that school is now more dire than ever before,” Rushton said.

The MLA hopes to have news very soon on when construction will begin.