Councillor remembered with $700K Cape Breton beach upgrade

A popular Cape Breton beach is getting more than $700,000 in improvements, partially in tribute to the area's councillor who died in January.

Coun. Charlie Keagan, who died in January, worked hard to improve North Sydney beach

Indian Beach, near the ferry dock in North Sydney, is receiving a big upgrade, partially in memory of Charlie Keagan, who was the councillor in the area. (George Mortimer/CBC)

A popular Cape Breton beach is getting more than $700,000 in improvements, partially in tribute to the area's councillor who died in January

Improving Indian Beach, which is near North Sydney's downtown and the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal, as well as the nearby community of Sydney Mines, was a passion project of councillor Charlie Keagan's.

He even sold 50/50 tickets with his wife to raise money.

"This, for me, is a very powerful moment, and an emotional moment for us," Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke said Thursday. 

Councillor Charlie Keagan died after suffering a stroke in January. (CBRM)

Canteen, softball field, playground

The beach will see enhancements over the next 10 months, including a new entranceway, improved parking areas and waterfront access.

The funding was announced Thursday by Clarke and Liberal MP Mark Eyking.

CBRM will contribute $301,230 in core capital funding, plus $74,878 of in-kind for work associated with the canteen, performance areas, softball field and playground area. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will provide $300,000.

Indian Beach is getting money for improvements, including to the parking lot. (George Mortimer/CBC)

'Very important'

Bobby Jobe, chairman of the Indian Beach Society, said the improvements are significant. The main roadway will be redirected, the beach cleaned, new facilities added and old ones upgraded, he said. Even the sand will smoothed out. 

"It's very important," Jobes said. "They come from everywheres to enjoy this asset, 'cause there's not very many places that you have like this." 

Phyllis MacKinnon and her son Danny enjoy spending time at Indian Beach. (George Mortimer/CBC)

'It's so wonderful'

The beach is a very special place for many, said Phyllis MacKinnon, who grew up in and currently lives in North Sydney. 

"I walked down here with a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of Kool-Aid when I was ten years old," MacKinnon said.

"Now we're back here and I see all the people I never see, so it's wonderful."

Liberal MP Mark Eyking, right, announced federal funding for the beach Thursday. (George Mortimer/CBC)

'It's a social gathering'

In her neighbourhood, she said, they look forward to going to the beach at night. 

"It's a social gathering. It looks like they're gonna make it a little better."

The work is expected to be completed by next spring.

About the Author

George Mortimer

Reporter

George Mortimer is a longtime reporter in Cape Breton.