The Municipality of the County of Antigonish is considering joining a group of other municipalities in the province for the creation of a wind energy initiative.
“We are working with four other municipalities to move this project forward,” county clerk Glenn Horne told the Casket in an Aug. 8 interview.
Those partners are Lunenburg, Chester, Bridgewater and Wolfville.
“We have been working with those municipalities for a little bit of time now to determine if there was a viable wind energy project out there, and then move forward with some options, if we could come up with a viable project,” Horne said.
“We have found what we view to be, in the initial stages, a viable project that would be constructed in West Hants – a 13-megawatt project – so it is relatively small, but it is a healthy project nonetheless.”
At this point, Horne said the project is in “what we would consider to be the first phase.”
“That is a phase that is primarily working with our project manager to obtain all the necessary permits and meet the various regulations and processes that we need to go through – with both the local municipality and with NSPI (Nova Scotia Power),” he added.
As for the money commitment involved, if the project moves forward, Horne said there has been “preliminary talk of some financial numbers.”
“I can’t release the exact details yet, but we are talking about in the millions of dollars,” he noted.
As for this multi-municipality partnership, Horne said Antigonish County takes pride “in trying to think beyond our borders.”
“We love to partner with a number of municipalities on any number of initiatives,” he said.
“We have been looking at energy efficiency and renewable energy for some time now; another recent example of our commitment to renewable energy is the solar panels that we just put on the roof [of the municipal building on Beech Hill Road].
The seeds were planted for this particular partnership approximately a year ago during a Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) meeting.
“Our warden [Russell Boucher] kind of came across the warden from the District of Chester [Allen Webber] and they got talking about a project that the District of Chester was looking into,” Horne said, noting, from there, he met with that municipality’s CAO.
“We started to have a few more conversations on what opportunities could possibly be there and kind of, from that, this whole thing was born.”
Horne described it as “still early days” with the proposed initiative.
“We are hopeful,” he said.
“This is a project that fits quite well with our kind of mandate of regional and inter-municipal workings and, on our renewable energy priorities, so we are quite hopeful that, at the end of the day, this project will come to fruition and we will have something to show for it.”
At a regular council meeting held July 26, Horne informed council that a sale deal for the former Antigonish Correctional Centre was scheduled to close three days later (July 29).
“The sale has yet to close. We are working on a couple of very minor but necessary details,” he said, in the same Aug. 8 conversation.
“We anticipate it closing any day now. There was a slight delay in the actual closing of it.”
Horne noted that “the new proprietor is in there and working away with his new plans.”
“And, we are moving ahead as if it [the deal] has closed, and we are expecting it to close in the next day or two,” he said.
In May, council approved a recommendation to move forward with the process with purchaser Big House Rentals.
During its February monthly meeting, council voted to demolish the building – located in downtown Antigonish – which opened in 1948. It had been empty for almost 18 months, since it was put out of service with the opening of a new regional correctional centre in Pictou County.
Last June, the municipality issued its first RFP (request for proposals). Although there was some interest, the county could not find a purchaser that met its criteria.
After word of the February demolition decision got out, interested parties came forward, prompting county council to do the second RFP.
As for the attached Antigonish County Courthouse, the municipality is moving forward with a renovation project.
During the same July 26 meeting, deputy clerk Beth Schumacher said the goal is to have the work completed “before this winter.”
To help pay for the courthouse upgrades, the municipality has applied to Parks Canada’s National Historic Sites program.
“Hopefully, we will be hearing back about that soon,” Schumacher said.