Banook Canoe Club to be upgraded ahead of international competitions
Clubhouse, judges' tower will be modernized
The Nova Scotia government will spend $4.5 million to upgrade facilities on Lake Banook in Dartmouth in advance of several high-profile paddling events.
"So excited, this is such big news for us here," said Kim Gaudet, Banook Canoe Club's commodore and board chair.
The bulk of the funding — $3 million — is earmarked for improvements to the clubhouse, which was built shortly after the club was founded in 1903.
"This money is going to really help us with infrastructure, with making it more accessible for our community, and ensuring we're here for another 120 years," Gaudet said.
Gaudet said priorities include shoring up the foundation, which is affected by water draining into the lake, as well as installing an elevator and accessible washrooms. There will also be improvements to the canoe docks.
International competitions coming
The club is hosting the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships this August, and will be a competition site during the North American Indigenous Games in 2023.
To prepare for this summer's competition, the Canoe '22 Society will receive $1.5-million for structural work on the judges' tower on the lake. It was built in 1988 and plays a major role in both local races as well as international competitions.
"That's a pretty iconic building here on Lake Banook," Gaudet said, "It really just brings the world and the country to Nova Scotia."
"This money is amazingly helpful," said 21-year-old Alex Canning, a competitive kayaker with the club.
"I'm excited to see how much better we can make the place, and how much more accessible we can make the place."
Ian Gaudet, 18, is the commodore's son. He holds three under-18 national championships in kayaking.
"It's really awesome to see a change because it's been a very important part of my life for the better part of my entire life, and it's great to see some investment coming into it, and it'll really help the club," he said.
Both paddlers say they are thrilled about the international competition coming in August.
"It's pretty awesome," Gaudet said. "We've been watching it for the past many years, seeing our idols paddle.... And it's going to be here."
Canning was nine the last time the ICF world championships were held on Lake Banook. He said that event inspired him to begin paddling.
"I do remember specific things. I do remember [Olympic gold medallist] Adam van Koeverden racing," Canning said, "And watching Banook paddlers paddle in that event."
"Now it's so cool to think I'm training to try to qualify to do the same thing," he said.
Additional sports funding
The province also earmarked $5 million for Sport Nova Scotia to help make sports more accessible to people with disabilities and to lower financial barriers for children and youth who want to take part in sports.
There is an additional $635,000 to upgrade the baseball field at the Springfield Lake Recreation Centre in Middle Sackville.