The mayor of the Municipality of Cumberland is welcoming news of a $7-million provincial investment in a proposed new community centre in the Town of Oxford.
“My philosophy is what’s good for one area of Cumberland County is good for all areas of Cumberland County,” Mayor Murray Scott said. “What’s good for Oxford is great for the entire county.
“This is a facility that will be used by the people of Oxford, but also those in the surrounding communities in the area. We’re all in this together and we want to support each other. When you consider we’re an area with just over 30,000 people, we realize how important this project in Oxford is and what a tremendous opportunity it offers.”
Cumberland South MLA and Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton announced the $7-million contribution on Monday, March 27.
The centre will replace the community centre lost five years ago when a giant sinkhole in Lions Park forced the closure of the previous facility that was owned by the Oxford Lions Club.
The new centre will be located on the site of the former Oxford Regional High School.
“This is a huge investment in the area,” Rushton said following the announcement. “This was a project I’ve been advocating for from before I was in government. When it was taken to the minister and the premier there was no question it was something we had to support because it supports rural areas.”
Rushton said the investment is about much more than a new building. The Cumberland South MLA said it’s about supporting rural areas of Nova Scotia so they can attract and retain people and grow the economy.
“This is not just about Oxford, but it’s going to be impactful for surrounding areas in Cumberland County, including the Municipality of Cumberland,” Rushton added. “It’s good for mental health and physical health, but also for the benefit of the community as a whole.”
Matthew Bragg, vice-president of the Oxford Community Centre Association, expects ground to be broken in the spring with construction to begin soon after.
A fundraising campaign will be commenced with the federal and municipal levels of government as well as businesses and individuals before a capital campaign is launched in the community.
“Our committee has been working very hard on this for over two years. This is a major step in this project coming to fruition,” Bragg said. “This investment by the province shows their support for rural communities and we know from losing our community centre in 2018 we know the positive impact this is going to have for residents throughout Cumberland County. This is about building a sustainable community centre that will retain and attract residents from across Nova Scotia, Canada and around the world.”
The Town of Oxford has participated already by providing the land for the building.
The new centre will include a walking track, gymnasium, meeting and community rooms, child-care, a library, commercial rental spaces and a full-service kitchen.
“It’ll be a real centre for the community,” Bragg said. “It’ll be adjacent to the high school, so we expect a lot of programs can be developed in concert with that. We’re going to build the building and offer it up to service groups to run the programs.”
Bragg said committee members have gone out to other communities to see what they’ve done and he was very impressed with the community centre in Guysborough. He can see the community centre attracting many people for various reasons, including weddings, pancake suppers, community fundraisers and other events. He also sees it becoming a cultural centre as more new Canadians move to Cumberland County to work at industries like Oxford Frozen Foods.
“We have a lot of new Canadians coming in who are working at Oxford Frozen Foods and other companies and they’re bringing their families with them. The province talks about making investments in creating jobs. This isn’t about creating jobs, but it’s supporting the jobs that have been created,” Bragg said. “We want to keep people in rural Nova Scotia and this will be a big step in that direction.”