HRDC program gives boost to trail expansion and other community improvements
By Tim Ruhnke - Journal Editor
VOL.172, NO.17~ PRESCOTT, ONTARIO ~Wednesday, July 17, 2002
PRESCOTT - A home-grown beautification project is receiving significant seed funding from the federal government.
Leeds-Grenville MP Joe Jordan has announced $147,000 in Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) funding for the "Prescott Blossoms" project.
Twelve people between the ages of 15 and 30 will be hired as part of the HRDC Youth at Risk program. They will assist with the implementation of proposed improvements to the waterfront area south of King Street in the east end of town.
Prescott Blossoms has its roots in the millennium planning which began four years ago.
A community-based committee spearheaded an ongoing fundraising campaign that led to the creation of a waterfront pathway in 2000 which was recently named Prescott's Heritage River Trail. The existing paved trail extends from New Wexford to the Sandra S. Lawn Harbour. The pathway proposal did not receive funding from the federal government's millennium program.
Expansion plans for the trail area were announced this spring by Parks Canada. Among the additional features to be added are an arboretum, naturalized gardens, benches, signs and trail links to Fort Wellington.
Jordan said what he likes about the project is how it builds on the millennium investment already made.
"It's a good project all around from my perspective," Jordan said.
The Youth at Risk program offers work experience opportunities and skills development in partnership with the public and private sector and non-profit groups. Program participants may not have completed high school or high school equivalency, may have disabilities or be heading lone-parent families, may be recent immigrants or newcomers to Canada or be a visible minority.
Participants begin a two-week introduction to the program this week; it is anticipated they will begin on-site work after the August long weekend. An administrative assistant will also be hired as part of Prescott Blossoms.
The project will not be limited to the waterfront trail expansion at Fort Wellington, according to co-coordinator Mike Laking. Prescott Blossoms also applies to other parks and waterfront areas as well as the downtown core.
In addition to the HRDC funding, donations in the form of money, goods and services continue to be received.
Laking estimates in-kind and other donations total about $184,000.
Prescott Mayor Robert Lawn referred to the project as a catalyst for the community. Prescott Blossoms will enhance one of the town's biggest assets: its waterfront area.
"All of us who live here have a tendency to take it for granted," said the mayor, who went on to add visitors bring home that point when they comment on the beauty of the river and the waterfront area.
Lawn, who has been trying to convince his council colleagues of the need for a plan to revitalize the downtown area, noted Prescott Blossoms will hopefully carry over to main street. "The charm of this community is still its downtown," Lawn said.
The millennium committee, with input from local horticulturalist and garden designer Astrid Strader, submitted the trail proposal to Parks Canada which approved the concept and provided the services of an architectural landscape engineer/horticulturalist to come up with a detailed plan for the waterfront trail area.
Prescott Councillor Jo-Anne Beckstead and CAO/Clerk Andrew Brown have also served on the millennium committee. Brown is co-coordinator of the Prescott Blossoms project.
"It's a good project all around..."
Leeds-Grenville MP Joe Jordan