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Outhit on new community centre, all-weather turf facility

Bedford Councillor Tim Outhit

Community Meeting Announcement

A Proposed Community Centre and Regional All-Weather Turf facility for Bedford / Hammonds Plains – Tim Outhit

A special community meeting will be held on January 5, 2011, at 7 p.m. at the new BMO Centre, located at 61 Gary Martin Drive in Bedford. Residents will receive a presentation and be consulted on a proposed Community Regional All-Weather Turf facility for Bedford/Hammonds Plains high school catchment area. These facilities are being proposed as an enhancement to the new Bedford/Hammonds Plains high school which is replacing CP Allen High School.

During both of my election campaigns, many Bedford residents commented on the long time lack of multi-purpose and all-age sports and meeting facilities in our growing community. The BMO Centre was built to address the arena needs of Bedford and HRM, but many believe more is required to address other recreation and sports needs.

The province has accepted the recommendation of the residents committee and has purchased land for the new high school in a central and accessible location. This provides HRM with a once every 30-40 year opportunity to integrate community facilities into our new high school. Integrating a community centre, and upgrading the small, grass school field to a full sized athletic all-weather turf facility, results in a significant capital cost saving for HRM versus planning for a stand-alone project at a much later date. However, due to the construction schedule, a quick decision must be made by HRM.

The proposed Community Centre would contain amenities for indoor sports and activities such as basketball, badminton, gymnastics, martial arts, dance and more. In addition, there would be multi-purpose meeting, crafts, and preschool activity rooms. The sports field would be upgraded to artificial turf, lighted, and used for football, soccer (3 pitches), ultimate frisbee, and rugby. This integrated approach would see the Community Centre providing the facilities needed to supplement the All Weather Turf (i.e. washrooms and change rooms accessed separately from the school’s).

My objective and belief is that the upgraded sports field will be paid out of the “general tax rate” by all HRM residents. Like the BMO Centre, it would be a “regional facility” available to all.

The Community Centre is a different matter. Community Centres within the urban core historically have been paid out of the “general tax rate”. It is my goal that, if the project goes ahead, some general tax rate funds would be included. However, in recent practice many community centers now use a “local area rate” for at least part of their funding. To ensure this proposal goes ahead, I may be prepared to support a modest area rate, spread throughout Bedford and Hammonds Plains. But, I first wish to discuss it with the community. My research suggests that there is precedent for this in Bedford, as a similar model was used when the Basinview Community School was enhanced. The new high school’s “cafetorium” will be paid for by the province, and will help to address Bedford’s long-time need for meeting and performing arts facilities. This is a new design concept that CPA Staff and interested community members are working on together.

Please plan to participate on January 5. If you are unable to attend, but have questions or comments, please call me at 229-6385 or email me via outhitt@halifax.ca.

Happy Holidays to all!

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