Antigonish, NS (StFX University) - As far as Mondays go, it was a very good one at StFX and in the Antigonish region.
The Government of Canada announced it is investing $500,000 in StFX's Oland Stadium to help replace aging bleachers to meet safety standards required to secure and host national sporting events. The upgrades will enhance the facility's capacity to host major events such as the 2018 Canadian Special Olympics, to be held at StFX next summer.
The support was announced July 31 by Sean Fraser, Member of Parliament for Central Nova, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). Funding for the project is provided through ACOA's Innovative Communities Fund (ICF).
"We're here today for a terrific announcement that will impact the campus and the larger region of northern Nova Scotia in a very positive way," Mr. Fraser said in making the announcement at the facility.
Support for the Oland Stadium will generate sustainable economic activity for Antigonish as a major events venue, he noted, and it will leave the campus community with a valuable asset with the more accessible and modern bleachers.
"StFX is already one of the largest employers and economic generators in the Antigonish area. By furthering their capacity to host larger events and tournaments, neighbouring businesses will experience increased activity resulting from an influx of visitors. Local leadership teaming up with the Government of Canada is creating vibrant and robust communities that we can all be proud of," Mr. Fraser said.
The Province of Nova Scotia, through the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, announced $1 million in support toward this project in March 2017.
StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald thanked the federal government for its support, a key component he said in the process of upgrading and improving Oland Stadium, which is an important centre for the community.
"This centre is the health and wellness heart of northern Nova Scotia. Students, athletes, and families from around the region engage in physical activity, sport and attend community events at the Oland Stadium."
He also thanked the provincial and municipal governments for their support, and recognized those working to bring the Special Olympics to Antigonish, and the athletes themselves.
Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron and Town of Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher both spoke about the positive impact the investment will have on the community.
Special Olympian Theresa Borden, who has participated in three national games and has earned both a gold and a silver medal, thanked "the Government of Canada and StFX for helping us put our best foot forward."
"One year from today, we'll be opening up the Special Olympics on July 31, 2018," Special Olympics co-chair Carl Chisholm said. "We're proud we'll have new grandstands," he said as he thanked those involved in this announcement.
Dr. Charlene Weaving, chair of the StFX Human Kinetics Department, emceed the event.
L-R, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher, Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron, StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald, MP Sean Fraser, Special Olympics co-chair Carl Chisholm, and Special Olympics athlete Theresa Borden