While raising his family in Cole Harbour, Roger LeBlanc says he realized the community was in need of a big boost.
"It is a great place to live, but there is a real need for a place where youth, seniors and community groups to meet in the evenings and weekends."
LeBlanc reached out and found some supporters.
They formed a society called "Connections Cole Harbour."
And they even found a spot to fit the bill.
"The Gordon Bell Building would be a perfect place to house a Community Life Centre," said LeBlanc. "We are looking at the possibility of taking over ownership or at least operations of the facility to provide a wide variety of support services to the community."
They would like HRM to provide the building to them by either a $1 yearly lease or a purchase for $1.
The Gordon Bell Building, located on the Forest Hills Parkway to the west of Cole Harbour Place, used to be a high school and then housed
administrative offices for the school board. HRM issued a "request for proposal" looking for bids from developers and not for profit groups on
surplus school properties and the Bell Building is one of them.
The building is 69,150 square feet, sits on 7.6 acres of land and has been appraised at $3.7 million.
Connections Cole Harbour has approached several community groups like the Boys and Girls Club and the Lions Club.
"And in order for this project to be sustainable at the end of the day it will be important to have significant input from the revenue generating
businesses," said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc says they would like to have before and after school programs, a day care and nursery, counselling services for addictions, family budgeting seminars, accounting and other services that promote healthy living.
"These operations would lease the space and bring in the necessary revenue to sustain the facility."
The Bell building has 27 classrooms, a fully equipped cafeteria, office and meeting rooms.
Some of the needs LeBlanc first saw years ago would be provided if they could acquire the building, he said.
"It would provide a gathering place for a variety of community members, recreation, entertainment and training and mentoring."
In the almost three years since Connections Cole Harbour has been formed they have drawn up an extensive business plan, met with politicians,
community groups, the RCMP and have a large board of directors.
LeBlanc says they are now working hard to engage the community in their plans.
There will be a town hall meeting for the community to come together and discuss the future of the Gordon Bell Building on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at Cole Harbour Place.
Everyone is welcome.
For more information www.gordonbellbuilding.ca