AMHERST – West Highlands Elementary and renovations to the collaborative emergency centre at North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash are just two parts of a $525-million capital plan announced by Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald on Wednesday.
The province is spending $84.3 million to build, upgrade and modernize schools in the province. It’s spending $23 million on justice facility upgrades, $5.8 million to improve hospitals in Guysborough and Springhill and expand a satellite dialysis facility in Kentville.
It’s also spending $4 million to make 90 Halifax schools more energy efficient and $1 million to repair and replace aging infrastructure at provincial parks.
West Highlands was originally in the 2012-13 capital plan, but delays with site selection pushed it back.
“This is great news for our area,” Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar said Wednesday. “West Highlands is a project we have been working toward for several years. It’s reassuring to know that construction will begin in 2013.”
Skabar said work on West Highlands should have started last summer, but agrees the school should be located within the West Highlands community. He credits Amherst councillor Terry Rhindress for suggesting the Lions Park as a potential site. The province has yet to formally announce the preferred site from the latest site selection process, but Skabar expects it will come soon.
New school projects were announced in Bible Hill and South Dartmouth, while West Highlands, Bedford High School, a Primary to 8 school will be built in New Glasgow along with South Queens Junior High.
There are numerous school additions and alterations, including River Hebert District High School and Springhill Junior-Senior High. The River Hebert project, that will see the school converted to a Primary to Grade 12 facility, was delayed last year when tenders came in a lot higher than budgeted.
Renovations to the hospital in Pugwash will see North Cumberland Memorial attached to the East Cumberland Lodge to create one building.
There are also plans to pave five kilometres of Highway 242 from 0.5 km west of Pit Road to Joggins.
The province also plans to replace the aboiteau at the LaPlanche River. Last year, the province conducted an engineering study of the aboiteau. The province attempted to replace the structure in 2007, spending several hundred thousand dollars to build a structure that failed within a couple of months of its completion.
The aboiteau prevents the flooding of the marshlands around Amherst.