North Nova Scotia Highlanders museum in peril
AMHERST – The North Nova Scotia Highlanders lost 486 members during the Second World War.
Casey meets with town, MLA over community response
(From left) Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Amherst Mayor Dr. David Kogon, Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey and Amherst Deputy Mayor Sheila Christie met Friday to discuss how the three levels of government can work together to save the Col. James Layton Ralton Armoury.
©Darrell Cole - Amherst News
AMHERST – While the Department of National Defence appears ready to close the Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury, Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey is stressing no decisions have been made.
Casey said Friday minister Harjit Sajjan has assured him that he has not approved any order to dispose of the building that’s home to three cadet corps and the North Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum.
“There has been no decision on that building. The only person who can make that decision is the minister and he has not made it yet,” he said. “He’s been very well informed of this process and I’ve spoken to him several times over the last week about this.”
Casey said Sajjan has acknowledged the community needs to have a say in this and the minister is aware of the situation there, including its use by the cadets and the regimental museum.
This comes after a department representative sent a letter to a representative from the regimental museum saying the building will be divested and the artifacts split between armouries in Truro, New Glasgow and Springhill.
The Liberal MP met Friday afternoon with Amherst Mayor Dr. David Kogon and Deputy Mayor Sheila Christie and Cumberland North PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin to work on a strategy to save the building.
“There are some things we’re setting in motion to look at saving that building,” Kogon said after the meeting. “We’re looking at things like what funding would be available through the federal and provincial governments and how the building is managed so maybe we could have local control.
“We want to let people know it’s not a done deal that the federal government is divesting itself of this building. That slipped to the public a little prematurely,” the mayor said. “We don’t know the timeframe but we’re going to be proactive in this and working toward the goal of keeping that building viable and active.”
Casey said while the three levels of government are working together, he doesn’t want to plant false hope. He said there’s still a lot of work to be done and no guarantee it will be successful.
“We want to maintain the building and the uses that it has under different management,” he said. “The government is saying no decision has been made to divest it but it’s also saying it has no military use for it. Eventually there will be a decision on it.”
He believes there is still time to do something to prevent the building’s loss to the community.
“We don’t have answers yet because there’s a lot of information we have to gather, such as operating costs. How much does it cost to operate that building, how much would it cost to restore the building so that it’s safe and can be used,” he said. “We’re not without hope but we don’t want to raise false expectations.”
Smith-McCrossin said it’s going to take a community effort to protect the building and she wants the three cadet corps and the museum to do that every effort will be made to ensure they have a place.
“The cadets are our future and the museum represents our history. We want them to know that all three levels of government are working together,” she said, adding there’s a meeting with key stakeholders at town hall on Monday. “We want people to have confidence knowing we’re working together on this.”
We want to let people know it’s not a done deal that the federal government is divesting itself of this building. That slipped to the public a little prematurely. We don’t know the timeframe but we’re going to be proactive in this and working toward the goal of keeping that building viable and active.
Dr. David Kogon, Amherst's mayor