Several years ago, River Hebert residents identified the need for a community centre. At about the same time, officials with the Brookside Curling Club were trying to decide what to do with their aging curling rink near the heart of the village.
Its membership was no longer active in the sport and it didn’t want to see the building fall into disrepair or become an eyesore. The community seized the opportunity and from a concept on a piece of paper, various volunteers came together with their talents and skills and redeveloped the building into what it is today – an example of what a community can accomplish when it puts its mind to something.
“This facility is amazing,” River Hebert and Joggins Development Association treasurer Deborah Metherel said. “There’s so much community effort in this building. It’s just a great building for our community. There is so much opportunity and so many things we can do here. The community spoke about how much it wanted a community centre and it delivered.”
The community centre was officially opened on Saturday, Dec. 10 with the presentation of certificates by Mayor Murray Scott and District 7 Coun. Dale Porter as well as Cumberland South MLA and Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton.
There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as cake and refreshments.
The centre is the new home of the River Hebert branch of the Cumberland Public Libraries. There’s a meeting space as well as a pickleball court, a space to play basketball as well as a fitness centre with treadmills, elliptical trainers and weight machines. Work is continuing on the facility with plans to include a new generator so the centre can be used as a comfort centre during a prolonged power outage, similar to what post-tropical storm Fiona did to the area back in September.
“This place says a lot about the people,” Metherel said. “There were a few naysayers, but we proved them wrong.”
PJ White, like Metherel, is not surprised with how the community came together. The president of the society knew it would be a lot of work, but there was very little opposition to what they were trying to accomplish and anyone who could lend a hand – or some expertise – did.
White said a community centre was something being discussed at least 10 years ago. It was something River Hebert needed to help maintain its sense of community. It was something the executive of the curling club was thinking about when they were considering wrapping up its operations several years ago.
“We’re just so happy with how it turned out. It has really filled a void for everyone, for the seniors and for the kids. They can come in here and play pickleball or basketball, ping pong, pool and work out.”
White said the community has been very receptive to the centre since it opened.
Other plans include additional bathrooms as well as floor sealant.
Coun. Porter said a lot of people in the community have been waiting for the centre to open.
“To see everything come together is just fantastic,” Porter said. “It’s something that’s being used by everyone in the community. That’s what it’s here for.”
Mayor Scott congratulated the people of River Hebert for coming together the way they did to make the project a reality.
Scott said this project is a celebration of volunteers. Along with identifying the need for the facility, it also took charge to see it through to the end instead of waiting for someone else to do it for them.
“I’m so excited for this and the community effort has been incredible,” Scott said. “Young and old, people are retired and others have put so much into this building. It’s a really good example of a community effort when it comes together for a common cause and it’s something that’s going to be used for many years to come.”