DND to repair Ralston armoury
AMHERST - National Defence hopes to have repairs completed to the Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury sometime later this year.
A department spokesperson has confirmed that construction engineering consultants are reviewing the building's condition and should be in a position to make recommendations on remediation efforts soon.
"We do have a team from our construction engineering department that is reviewing the state of the building's exterior and are working on a consultants' investigation that will determine the long-term stabilization of the building," DND spokesperson Mike Bonin said.
Bonin said the structure at the front of the building was erected to protect people from falling sandstone. It was put in place after concerns were raised about the condition of the heritage property's sandstone exterior.
He said the building's remediation remains a priority for the department but a number of circumstances have delayed the project.
"It's pretty high up the priority list. One of the problems with all federal agencies right now is that while we're in election mode there's not a lot happening," Bonin said. "When the consultants arrive they're going to prioritize what can be done before the winter happens."
Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Bill Casey said department officials have been up front with him about their plans to restore the building.
"I have it in writing and it's going to be completed," said Casey referring to a letter he received from Rear Admiral P.D. McFadden of Martitime Forces Atlantic. "I've been getting nothing but positive co-operation from the department. I believe they recognize the historic significance of the building and its current value."
Casey said the project is making its way up the priority list and said the delay is a result of resources being used to support Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
"A lot of resources are focused on our soldiers in Afghanistan and I think everyone would be in agreement that's where it should be," Casey said.
Late last week, Second World War veterans Harold Ettinger and Russell Clarke expressed their worries about the future of the building that was the birthplace of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.
Ettinger, president of the regiment's memory club, said government inaction was disrespectful to the hundreds of young men who went through the building on their way overseas. Many of these soldiers never came home.
Ettinger is thrilled the building is going to be restored.
"We're delighted. This was never meant to be political, it was just a case of let's get it done," Ettinger said. "As veterans we were a little worried there wouldn't be any of us left to see the work complete," Ettinger said. "This is wonderful news."
The armoury was built in 1914 and is home to several cadet corps as well as the North Nova Scotia Highlanders regimental museum and the Nova Scotia Highlanders Sergeant's Mess.
Bonin said considering the building is a heritage property, whatever work is completed will be done in accordance with those restrictions.