Grab your lawn chair, hat and sunscreen and get ready to celebrate Sydney’s past, present and future this long weekend. Stronger Than Steel’s official opening ceremony took place today, Aug. 30, in Open Hearth Park, Sydney.
Stronger Than Steel marks the completion of one of Canada’s largest environmental cleanups and sets the stage for a new beginning with Open Hearth Park, which now sits on the former tar ponds and coke ovens site.
“Open Hearth Park represents a new start for our community and sets the stage for a brighter future,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Maurice Smith, who is also Minister responsible for the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency. “This will be a memorable weekend for all of us.
“Not only are we celebrating the successful remediation of the tar ponds and coke ovens site and all that we have accomplished since the steel and coal industries anchored our community more than 100 years ago, but we have a community-based park that will benefit many generations to come and remind us of just how resilient we are.”
Stronger Than Steel will feature some of the province’s most talented musicians, a multicultural festival and a Mi’kmaq cultural village this weekend. Details on the event can be found at www.strongerthansteel.ca .
As part of the opening ceremonies, Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, on behalf of Public Works and Government Services Minister Diane Finley and Mr. Smith signed a ceremonial land transfer agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia. The lands are expected to be officially transferred in the fall.
“With a focus on jobs and growth, this cleanup project has not only improved the environment, but has also helped build a stronger economy for the people of Cape Breton and Atlantic Canada,” said Mr. MacKay. “This site remediation has provided local residents with jobs, training and experience, and revitalized the community for current and future generations.”
Cleaning up the site took about 10 years. It involved solidifying and stabilizing close to one million tonnes of contaminated soils and sediments. The project is now finished six months earlier than expected, and within budget. The initiative helped build a stronger economy and future for Cape Breton, putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy, and employing hundreds.
“Over the past nine years, the Citizens’ Liaison Committee has witnessed not only a transformation of the physical landscape of Sydney, but also a transformation in the minds of the people,” said Alistair MacLeod, chair of the Community Liaison Committee. “There is a renewed sense of pride about our history, there is optimism about the present and there is growing hope for the future.”
Open Hearth Park features a new football field, a playground area, skating area, bike and walking trails and more. The new park is expected to be completed in the coming months.