Community groups benefit from tar ponds cleanup programs

Cape Breton Post
By Julie Collins
Wed., Jan 13, 2010

IONA - The recreation field committee of Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona is one of a number of community groups that has benefited from the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency's Local Economic Benefits (LEB) Strategy.

The Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, through the LEB program, promotes project participants and contractors to support local community endeavours. LEB takes many forms such as direct local employment, advancement of local skills sets, support of local community projects and attraction of new residents to the local communities.

Since 2004 numerous groups have benefited from the program, with the most recent being Rankin School of the Narrows.

The school advisory council of Rankin spearheaded the development and delivery of a much-needed community outdoor venue at the school. The goal of the three-phase project is to develop a facility for both the school and community that will provide a chance for a better, healthier lifestyle.

The first stage of the three-phase project involved the expansion of the soccer field to a regulation-sized field. This was primarily accomplished with a grassroots effort from local citizens and contractors.

Phase two involved completing the field, along with the addition of a baseball diamond and the creation of a community walking track around the perimeter of their field.

Phase three will see the development of an outdoor rink, a youth and seniors green activity area, nature walking trail and a wind-driven lighting system for the entire venue. The green area will allow people who don't have space at home to plant a small garden. On the educational side, kids will be able to learn about plants and how they grow.

As fundraising efforts were underway for the various phases, the committee explored many ways of generating much-needed financial support.

One recent addition to the Iona area is Randy Pointkoski, senior environmental engineer with AECOM, design engineers for the Tar Ponds cleanup project. "It was through Mr. Pointkoski's dedicated community involvement, the committee became aware of the Sydney Tar Pond Agency's LEB program and how it would provide support for community efforts such as the Rankin recreation field project," said Tracey Dares, a member of the Rankin School of the Narrows school advisory council. "There are five or so major contractors working with the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency. We put the feelers out looking for specific things, and what we ended up getting was support in the form of equipment and products to be used in phase two and three of the project."

A critical component of phase two was a subsurface drainage system.

Armed with knowledge of the LEB program, Dares said the advisory council focused fundraising efforts on tar ponds cleanup contractors. Fortunately, the entire bill of materials for this system was facilitated by Dave Burns of Island Distributors and provided by James McNally of Beaver Marine. Island Distributors are vendors to MB2/Beaver Marine Joint Venture, who are delivering two large construction elements of the Sydney Tar Ponds Cleanup Project.

Van Zutphen's Construction of Port Hood, partners in Nordlys, another significant tar ponds cleanup contractor, has also come on board with support to the completion of the project. "This strategy has really helped us develop this much-needed outdoor venue and go beyond the norm in what we can offer to the community," Dares said. "In the end, we're really giving back something to the community that is huge.

It's also nice to see corporate support and recognize how smart it is of them to offer something like this LEB program to communities. What they are doing for all of us on the island is helping us to grow in positive, healthy directions. Both the physical and community growth. It increases the economic benefits, so they are really looking at this in a good way. It's good to see."