The community builders
By Chris Benjamin 9 November 2015 Share this story
This past summer, while the weather was still glorious, a little known entity called the Aspotogan Heritage Trust (AHT) granted its millionth dollar to a community project near Hubbards. For nearly 20 years, the trust has been supporting community development in the coastal oasis a half-an-hour drive from downtown.
It started with the closure of the CDS Mill Cove military base in the mid-1990s. To offset the economic loss that occurred when the base closed, the Department of National Defence created a trust fund.
Concerned citizens formed the AHT. In 1996, it created a community grant fund. Projects range from small events and fundraisers to large capital improvements. The Heritage Trust also gives four annual scholarships to students who demonstrate dedication to their community.
Kathy Gamache, the executive director and one of four staffers, says the trust has always worked closely with the region’s network of community organizations. “We open our facilities to groups for free meeting space as well as to individuals for computer access, training and resource material.”
To that effect, AHT is one of 200 provincial C@P sites, meaning it provides public access to “space, technology and high-speed broadband connectivity, as well as local trainers and technology mentors.” The system is designed to improve innovation in rural areas, many of which are starved for decent Internet access.
While funding disparate community initiatives, Gamache is careful to keep an eye on the bigger picture. “We want residents to feel empowered and engaged in the development of the region,” she says.
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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.
Chris Benjamin is a journalist, editor and fiction writer. His fourth book, a collection of short fiction called Boy With A Problem, was shortlisted for the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction. His book, Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada, won the Best Atlantic-Published Book Award and was a finalist for the Richardson Non-Fiction Prize.
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