N.S. exhausts recreation centre cash: $68m gone in just three years

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia has run out of money for recreational infrastructure after only three years.
The $68 million set aside in 2006 by the former Conservative government was supposed to last 10 years. But only $4 million is left, Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said Tuesday.
About 90 per cent of the money in the Building Facilities and Infrastructure Together fund had been spent by the time the NDP came to power in June, MacDonald told reporters in Halifax.
"There was a lot of pent-up demand for recreational facilities across the province because there hadn't been a significant infrastructure program in some time," she said.
The availability of federal infrastructure money in the last several years likely was another factor in speeding up the spending, said MacDonald.
Former Conservative health minister Chris d'Entremont confirmed this was the case.
"With the downturn in the economy and (infrastructure funding) that was available, why not push it forward a little faster so we can get people working?" d'Entremont said Tuesday.
The money has gone into 36 infrastructure projects, 22 of which received funding from the federal infrastructure fund or from Sport Canada.
The federally funded projects include a new civic centre in Colchester County and a multi-purpose facility at the Pictou Wellness Centre. Both projects received $10 million from the province.
The federal government's infrastructure plan, called Building Canada, will see Ottawa spend $33 billion on projects across the country, with matching contributions from provinces, territories and municipalities.
The NDP plans to put the remaining $4 million from the Building Facilities and Infrastructure Together fund into two projects that will be announced in the coming weeks. That will leave 13 other projects that have applied for funding out of luck.
"We know there is still a need," MacDonald said.
"We take some time now to reflect on what the needs are and what might be required in the future. But at this stage, we have to live within our means. We just had quite a serious commitment to recreational facilities."

Organizations: Building Facilities, NDP, Pictou Wellness Centre Building Canada

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Colchester County Ottawa

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