Baillie, Dexter trade words over West Highlands

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School under construction in Amherst

AMHERST – Two of Nova Scotia’s three party leaders have traded words over an elementary school under construction in Amherst.

AMHERST – Two of Nova Scotia’s three party leaders have traded words over an elementary school under construction in Amherst.

Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie is incensed that NDP leader Darrell Dexter would suggest electing a Conservative government on Oct. 8 would place the long-awaited $11-million school in jeopardy.

“The premier’s comments are asinine,” Baillie said. “How can the man who has denied the children of River Hebert a decent school for over three years possibly say something so ludicrous? If he really cared about our schools there would be a new school in River Hebert along with West Highlands.”

While on a campaign stop in Amherst last Friday, the premier suggested in an interview with the Amherst News that the West Highlands project, first announced in 2010, could be in trouble if the Conservatives win the election.

The premier repeated his concerns on Monday.

“What the Conservatives have done in their costing sheet is they have said they would reduce capital projects by about $200 million. They don’t seem to realize that means they would not be able to begin any new construction projects,” the premier said. “Often new construction projects are on a multi-year budget. The current multi-year construction budgets would eat up all the available revenue.

“If they are going to cut $200 million out they would either have to delay or cancel construction projects. The most obvious ones for them to do would be the ones not fully underway yet.”

Baillie said his platform is fully costed and includes both the completion of the stalled River Hebert school project and the construction of West Highlands.

The new West Highlands is supposed to be finished in time for the opening of classes in September 2014. The project as first promised by all three parties four years and announced by Dexter in December 2010.

The Tory leader said he will reassess the government’s pre-election spending spree if he’s elected. That won’t impact either school project.

“We have a fully costed plan, he had seven promises replacing the seven he broke last time,” Baillie said. “Our plan includes finishing the River Hebert school, completing the commitment to West Highlands and making important investments in our roads and in our education system, where he has failed.”

Issues with the site selection process and a proposal from the Town of Amherst to use the Lions Park property delayed progress by a year and resulted in a new site selection process that resulted in the park being selected to house the school.

Dexter joined officials from the town, MLA Brian Skabar and representatives from the West Highlands community in turning the sod for the school in the summer. Site preparation is well underway.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Conservatives, River Hebert school, Amherst News Tory

Geographic location: West Highlands, Amherst, River Hebert Nova Scotia Lions Park

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  • colin macd
    September 26, 2013 - 20:10

    Interesting that Baillie can suddenly find time to publicly care about schools...after 3 years of silemce. And no mention this time about Sprinhill Elementaries...so many issues, so little MLA.

  • John
    September 20, 2013 - 09:50

    I love how people say ship the River Hebert kids to Amherst, I don't know if anyone has noticed but Amherst schools are already overcrowded

  • ignots
    September 19, 2013 - 12:12

    The handwriting is on the wall. River Hebert kids will be and should be going to Amherst schools where the schools are clean and there are things to do, creative, and positive things to do. If the River kids are so proud of their school, maybe they should but the trophies back in the trophy case instead of leaving their lunch debris in it. Clean up your act River kids!!!!!!

    • Astounded
      September 20, 2013 - 16:08

      Ignots: 1. If kids from River Hebert had to go to school in Amherst, they would be bussed, and would have no time to participate in "creative and positive things" after school (or in the morning). 2. The school isn't 100% clean because it's old and run-down, which is no fault of the student. 3. I agree with John, the schools are over crowded. 4. The trophy case's glass was broken and was not fixed, so no trophies are in it.

    • Astounded
      September 20, 2013 - 16:08

      Ignots: 1. If kids from River Hebert had to go to school in Amherst, they would be bussed, and would have no time to participate in "creative and positive things" after school (or in the morning). 2. The school isn't 100% clean because it's old and run-down, which is no fault of the student. 3. I agree with John, the schools are over crowded. 4. The trophy case's glass was broken and was not fixed, so no trophies are in it.