FLETCHERS LAKE: A pair of community projects selected to receive money from the leftover Fall River/Fletchers Lake sidewalk fund have finally received approval from HRM regional council.

A multi-sports field being built by the Fall River Dragons Football program on Caramel Drive in St. Andrews Village in Fall River and construction of trails by the Shubenacadie Watershed Environmental Protection Society (SWEPS) were selected almost two years ago by a group of 10 volunteers from the community.

Councillor Barry Dalrymple was happy that the money will finally get disbursed to the winning submissions; however he was less than impressed with the length of time it took to come to council for approval.

“There was just under $50,000 in the sidewalk fund for some 25 years, monies that were very clearly over payments n the area rate and that no one else picked up on it,” he said. “The money belongs to the residents. It’s not HRM’s.”

The process was similar to that of one they used in Waverley which returned sidewalk funds there, resulting in the community selecting projects from submissions. Among those were upgrades to the Village Green. The sidewalk fund was leveraged for money from the province and HRM to top it up and allow for more upgrades, which were completed this summer.

He said they got a committee together and asked for submissions from the community as to where the leftover sidewalk money should go; 26 submissions were received, and the group whittled that list down to three.The project the committee had as the top one was a beach behind the Gordon R. Snow Community Centre in Fall River.

“The last eight or nine months has been like pulling teeth with our HRM departments trying to get them to issue the cheques,” said Dalrymple. “My argument to them since day one has been that it’s not HRM’s money. I told them that a thousand times. It’s residents money. They overpaid on an area rate, how that happened 25 years ago and why it wasn’t picked up before I did I do not know.”

Dalrymple said the recommendation from HRM staff finally came to regional council at their final meeting before the municipal election.

“I made a plea to my fellow councillors to force them to write the cheques, right here and now,” he said in an Oct. 7 interview.

After some debate and discussion, council unanimously passed a motion to write two cheques—for the football field and trails—for the group. SWEPS is getting $5,007 for the Blue Hill Coach trail system for work that has already been done; $11,932 to Fall River football to assist with the completion of the multi-sport field.

The third one is the beach/floating docks behind the Snow Centre. Dalrymple said HRM still has the money, but he’s satisfied now with the guarantees from HRM’s department managers.

“It will only be spent on community direction,” he said. “It is $29,853 and is to go to enhancements at the Snow Centre when HRM puts in the floating dock to make swimming possible, the shore front work, and along with what might be a possible beach. There could also be a park in between the centre and the lake.

“The deal is that money will be put into a reserve account and HRM is not get any say in how it’s spent. They must come to the community board that was put in place, and that community board will decide how that money is spent as part of this.”

Dalrymple said it’s something that shouldn’t have taken as long as it has.

“It’s just taken so long,” he said.