Lake Cowichan’s big Centennial Park, which has been sitting largely unused for some time waiting for an upgrade, got a $500,000 boost Tuesday.
John Duncan, minister of State and MP for Vancouver Island North, announced at a ceremony beside Centennial Hall and the Little League ball park Tuesday afternoon that Lake Cowichan is getting the cash from of Canada 150 Community Infrastructure fund.
The funding program celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday, which falls in 2017, and the money helps renovate, expand and rehabilitate existing infrastructure that provides community and cultural benefits for the public, he said.
Duncan also took the opportunity, while at Lake Cowichan, to announce seven more projects, making a grand total of $896,025 worth of grants, to help various groups in Cowichan Station, Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni, Cherry Creek, Ahousaht and Ucluelet as well as Lake Cowichan.
“Community centres, parks, trails, and other public spaces contribute to the strength of our communities, and by helping to renew them we are ensuring that they remained useable for years to come while creating jobs and economic growth,” Duncan said.
The other Valley project saw the Cowichan Station Area Association receive $46,000 to renovate the exterior of their community centre, the Hub.
“Our government’s top priority is the economy. It remains focused on delivering programs that have lasting and positive impacts on both small towns and big cities,” Duncan said.
Facilities such as Centennial Park in Lake Cowichan are the foundation of communities, bringing families and residents together for recreational activities, he said.
“There is however room for improvement so I’m pleased to announce that our government will invest $500,000 in upgrades to the park.”
The Town of Lake Cowichan will “make improvements to the existing sports facilities at Memorial Park by installing field lighting, pathways and fitness stations in addition to new landscaping. They’ll also repair the dugouts, gravel and field material, irrigation systems, nets and bleachers,” Duncan said adding, “I look forward to seeing the result of this investment and the benefits that will surely come with it.”
Lake Cowichan Coun. Tim McGonigle, who acted as MC thanked Duncan for the funding, noting that the Lake was getting the largest grant by far of all the ones announced.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said, pointing out that he himself is in his fifth council term waiting for it. “We look forward to the finished product.”
Mayor Ross Forrest, who’s in his third term, agreed.
“Isn’t this exciting?” he said.
He thanked some members of Lake Cowichan Minor Baseball for coming to the event at short notice.
“These players are going to be the real beneficiaries of the finished product down the line. They’re not going to have to go to Duncan when they are finished playing ball here [at the Little League park]. They’ll be able to continue to play here. It really is good news. Like Tim says this is a long time coming. Every year Minor Baseball comes to council and asks for improvements on the field and we all know about the drainage issue down below.
“We had been sinking money into it but we were beating a dead horse there. So we’ve consistently said that we had to wait until we got additional funding and then we would step forward with funding of our own to make a field that we’ll all be very proud of again,” Forrest said. “We’re very excited for this opportunity. It’s going to be great for the community, to enhance it back to the standard we deserve here.”
He thanked Duncan for the federal government’s decision to fund the Centennial Park upgrades.
“I can’t wait for the finished product. It will probably be about two years in the works but that’s fine. It will be well worth the wait and I know these guys will all be excited to play on it. I also want to thank our administrator and staff for putting together an application that was obviously successful. We’ve tried hard for a long time and a lot of work went into it,” Forrest said.