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McInnis Goes for Broke  For Eastern Shore Lifestyles Centre 

By Richard Bell 

Senator Tom McInnis and representatives from the ESLCS (Eastern Shore Lifestyles Centre Society) hosted a clinic on Saturday, November 18 on how to get something done in Nova Scotia. 

At stake was the replacement of the Sheet Harbour Lions Community Centre, a four decades old building closed from November to April because of roof problems. The building is owned by HRM, which assessed the building and concluded that the hall is not safe to occupy during the winter months due to the potential weight of snow on the roof. Last spring, HRM Regional Council voted to include $2.5 million in the capital budget to replace the building.

Enter McInnis, who proposed that the community think big. Why not “leverage” that $2.5 million and go for a $10 million facility with contributions from the province and the federal government? 

Under McInnis’ leadership, people formed nine committees operating under the name Eastern Shore Lifestyles Centre Society, with the firm backing of the Sheet Harbour Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs (of which McInnis was President for a decade.) 

On Saturday, Greg Cross, head of the Site Selection Committee, presented McInnis with the Committee’s choice after months of work. Using basic criteria of a minimum lot size and easy access to Highway 7, the committee identified 15 potential sites “between the bridges.” They then came up with 19 separate criteria to evaluate these sites. And in a marathon 4 ½ hour meeting in September, they filled out a 15x19 matrix, assigning a numerical value of 1-10 for each site for each criterion—or 285 decisions in only 270 minutes! 

When they added up all the numbers, one site stood out, an 11-acre parcel of Crown land on the west bank of the West River, from the harbour about half-way up to the bridge. (see map). The province could convey the land for only $1. 

Several times during the meeting, McInnis emphasized that a project of this magnitude could not succeed without sustained, united community backing. He repeatedly emphasized his “absolute confidence that the community could succeed. (See McInnis’ remarks in "A Road Map for Winning" below.)  

 

A Road Map For Winning 

Pulling a community together to accomplish major projects is not easy. Here’s what Senator Tom McInnis had to say in Sheet Harbour on November 18 about what a community has to do to win.  

"You know, you have to have a certain amount of gall when you start on these projects, to go to government and ask. 

And what we are asking for are things that other communities get across Atlantic Canada, across Canada. 

You know, you only get things when you ask and when you organize yourself. Part of the problem we’ve had, we’re loath to do that. 

Well I’m not, and obviously you’re not, because you’re here. 

So you just can’t go and ask government to do it. You have to lay out a plan of action as to how you want it done and what you want done. 

When you do that, you can get things accomplished. 

First time knocking on the door, maybe they’re not so positive. 

Second time, and you’re successful. 

We’ll be successful here. 

I have no doubt about it. I think that this can be done sooner than later. 

We have a critical path that we’ve put in place. 

It’s tight, really tight, but that’s what you have to do in order to get things done. 

If you just let it linger out there, what’ll happen is, we’ll be looking at one another in 2022 and nothing will have happened. 

You have to lay it out, what you want and when you want it. 

And you do have to be a little demanding. 

But I will say this, that the three levels of government that we dealing with, and the elected people, have been very, very, very helpful to this point in time, 

I read Sean Fraser‘s letter, very positive. 

David Hendsbee never misses a meeting 

And we had a very positive meeting with Lloyd Hines. 

That’s the attitude I take in these things. 

We deserve it, let’s organize and tell them what it is we deserve. 

So it’ll be done sooner than later." 

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