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Federal inaction a slap in the face to Amherst armoury building

["Walt's World with Walter Jones"]
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Walt's World with Walter Jones

What a slap in the face! After 150-plus years of occupancy our valiant fighting force, the Nova Scotia Highlanders, have been evicted from the armoury in Amherst.

They were sent down the road to Springhill several years ago. This despite the fact Amherst is the population centre of Cumberland County.

This forces recruits from Amherst to a travel more than 20 kilometers to train. This makes sense on only one level - economy and in fact when I enquired I was told it is because it is cheaper for the National Defence Department.

When you live in an urban area, you expect the cities to get more funds than you do. There is infrastructure to maintain and repair. Shipyards, container terminals, naval bases, freight yards, government buildings, bridges and the list goes on.

I accept this, but it is hard not to think you are getting the snub from Ottawa when they tell you they can't afford to repair your historic and registered heritage property in Amherst, and then announce that they will be spending $130 million to upgrade the armouries in Halifax.

Their reasoning, it houses a reserve unit and three cadet corps who train there. Guess what we have - three cadet corps, and before they were expelled, a reserve force that trained here.

We also have a valuable memory museum here as well. I just received an email from the defense minister’s staff, telling me they are going ahead with divestment of this building and are going to do an assessment to see if the building is worth repairing.

To me that’s window dressing! Want to bet what the assessment will say?

I see a wrecking ball in the future and another historic building will be gone. What will happen to our cadets and our memory museum? Where will our future reserves come from

It is now up to you the public to remind the government why this building should be repaired, especially since the reason it is in this sad condition. It is because of the poor maintenance of DND over the years.

We have sandstone buildings in Amherst that are 25 and 30 years older than the armoury and are in excellent condition. They were cherished and received care and attention by their owners.

The yellow vests are picketing in Halifax and Moncton. Perhaps they should also be in Amherst.

I published the email addresses of DND and the defense critics. I received replies. How many others have followed the lead? I have done all I can, the rest is in your hands.

Remember this government is not sympathetic to our veterans. It was Trudeau, who said at a town hall meeting out west, when asked by a veteran why they couldn't do something more, who said the country couldn't afford it. Really, but they can afford to give ex-generals a big pension?

Walter Jones is a retired school teacher who writes a weekly column for the Amherst News

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