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Funding denied for Sackville's quarry park project

Sackville’s historic Pickard Quarry could be converted into a community park in 2018.
The Town of Sackville’s funding application to help transform the Pickard Quarry into park with stormwater retention ponds has been denied.

Proposal called for Pickard Quarry to be transformed into park with stormwater retention ponds

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Sackville’s historic Pickard Quarry will likely not be converted into a community park in 2018 after all.

Town officials voiced their frustration last week over the news that their funding application for the project had been denied, leaving many questions over whether the idea will now be put back on the shelf.

“We are obviously disappointed in the result, given the amount of time staff put into this application,” said councilllor Megan Mitton.

The town had applied for a $1-million grant through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) municipal Climate Innovation Program for the project. If successful, the town had anticipated pitching in $200,000 towards the $1.2-million project and had even set money aside in this year’s budget.

“The funds in the budget were contingent on us receiving the FCM funding,” said Jamie Burke, senior manager of corporate projects for the town of Sackville.

Part of the plan for the quarry called for the two existing ponds to be turned into stormwater retention ponds. This would be part of the larger stormwater management work being carried out on Lorne Street – providing a prime opportunity to store water upstream and helping to alleviate the storage volume in the Lorne Street area.

And while that work was happening, the intent was to develop the quarry into a community park, an idea that has been brought to council’s table a number of times over the past 10 to 15 years. Trails, plantings and interpretive signage were proposed in the plan, turning a piece of the town’s history into an educational and recreational green space.

During the application phase, Burke was optimistic the application would be successful, as he thought it tied in well with the guidelines of the climate innovation program, which funds climate change projects with a focus on mitigation and adaptation.

But Burke confirmed last week that the funding didn’t come through, saying staff was “frustrated and disappointed” that FCM didn’t see the benefits of this opportunity.

He said while the peer reviewers who evaluated the proposed project did compliment the application for being “innovative” in its approach to climate change adaptation, they mentioned it would have been helpful to have been provided a copy of the town’s stormwater plan as well as supporting data to substantiate the climate change claim. There was also a lack of information in the application regarding the overall structure, confirmation of the property purchase, preliminary engineering design details, and confirmation the groundwater table is not contaminated by leachate because it had been reported that the quarry was used at one time as a landfill. Burke said the Pickard quarry, located at the end of Quarry Lane, was active as a quarry from 1883 to the early 1940s; but has never been used as a landfill.

Burke said he has since been in touch with the program manager and voiced concern over the basis behind FCM’s decision.

Not wanting the project to be abandoned, members of the Tantramar Outdoor Club plan to make a presentation to town council during its next monthly discussion meeting June 4, detailing how they’d like to see the project proceed and what steps might be taken for that to happen.

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