Nova Scotia Liberal leader, Stephen McNeil, takes questions from members of the Amherst & Area Chamber of Commerce last night at the Tantramar Theatre in Amherst. DAVE MATHIESON - AMHERST DAILY NEWS
SPRINGHILL – Nova Scotia’s top Liberal and leader of the official opposition has added his voice of support for expanding the gymnasium at Springhill High School.
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil came out against the NDP’s decision to scrap the expansion in favour of a renovation, saying the government is trying to balance the budget on the backs of students here in Springhill.
“This government made a commitment to the people of Springhill,” McNeil said. “The SHS gymnasium was to be expanded, the plan was announced and the money earmarked for the project. Now, after some aspects of the project were already underway, the NDP has cancelled the expansion plan, pulled the money off the table and really pulled the rug out from under the community here.”
Jamie Baillie, Cumberland South MLA and leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives, raised the issue this week, challenging the treasury board to uphold the expansion, noting the $100,000 already spent during the design phase would be thrown away if the expansion was scrapped. According to Baillie, tenders for the $1.9 million project came in $300,000 over budget but Education Minister Ramona Jennex said the tenders were closer to $1 million over budget.
“I wish I could say I was surprised by the government ‘s actions, but after three and a half years of broken promises and cuts to education, it’s par for the course for the NDP.” Stephen McNeil, Leader of the Nova Scotia Liberals
Jennex said the project would move forward with a new round of tenders, but a communication representative for the department later explained the project would have to stay within the present size of the gymnasium and any new seating would have to be found within the existing parameters.
McNeil says the NDP are a mismanaging the education system.
“The cuts by the NDP have had a disproportionate impact on rural parts of Nova Scotia… The last minute cancellation of Springhill High’s expansion shows how little the current government values schools and our smaller communities.”
McNeil also highlighted this is not the first blow the NDP have dealt the community since taking power.
“I wish I could say I was surprised by the government ‘s actions, but after three and a half years of broken promises and cuts to education, it’s par for the course for the NDP,” McNeil said. “Three years ago it was the correctional facility that was taken away from this community. Today, It’s the gymnasium expansion. This project should go ahead as planned and as promised.”