Nova Scotia

Sydney's Open Hearth Park seeks sponsors for benches, trees

The families of former Sydney steelworkers are being encouraged to think about sponsoring a bench, a tree or even a gazebo in Open Hearth Park.

Sponsorships pay tribute to steelworkers who worked at plant located where Open Hearth Park is now

A steel bench in Sydney's Open Hearth Park awaits a sponsor. It's hoped all 15 benches will be sponsored in the names of former Sydney steelworkers.

The families of former Sydney steelworkers are being encouraged to think about sponsoring a bench, a tree or even a gazebo in Open Hearth Park.

The park opened two years after the cleanup of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites, where the 100-year-old steel plant once stood. Today, it features walking and cycling trails, and sports fields paid for out of the cleanup fund. Its design was based on suggestions from the community.

The park is managed by Nova Scotia Lands, and chief executive officer, Joel MacLean, said the idea of sponsorship for "extras" also came from the community. 

"A number of people in the community have expressed an interest in seeing dedications to family members, to the former steelworkers and somehow to honour those people," MacLean said. 

"Second to that, a number of businesses have also expressed an interest in sponsorship here in the park."

MacLean said the sponsorship program is a way of accommodating those sentiments, while adding little extras to the park.

Keeping memories alive

"The park, as it is, we can look after it, but there's not a lot of money there for niceties, to add things on," MacLean explained.

"This is a way to go forward to improve the park and it also provides a memorial for the steelworkers and other people who are from the Sydney area."

Sponsorship of a park bench — appropriately made of steel — will cost $2,500. A plaque on the bench will note the sponsor's name or the name of the person in whose honour the bench is sponsored. Trees ($500) and gazebos ($,5000) will also bear plaques. MacLean said it will take 15 benches to fill the park.

Some see the sponsorships as an educational opportunity. Former president of the Local 1064 of the United Steelworkers of America said the park "accessories" are a way for future generations to learn about the steel plant and the people who worked there.

"[The steel plant] has been gone for 15 years, so the new kids don't know anything about it," he said. "The benches will make them question who that person was. I think it will help."

Nova Scotia Lands is also seeking corporate sponsors for the park's multi-use, all-weather field and scoreboard, the off-leash dog park, the children's playground, its splash pad and the bicycle training centre.