Following Town of Antigonish council’s regular monthly public meeting Jan. 16, Mayor Laurie Boucher provided reporters with an update on the growing wind farm development the town is a partner in, as a member of AREA (Alternative Resource Energy Authority).
Antigonish is a 60 per cent owner of the Ellershouse Wind Farm, located in West Hants, along with the towns of Mahone Bay and Berwick.
“They [the province] asked for more information because they wanted to be assured we’re on the right track,” Boucher said when asked about a report regarding provincial government.
“All three [turbines] of phase two are operational at this point. One still has to be commissioned but that is just a matter of days and then we’ll move on to securing funds for phase three [three more turbines]. So they wanted more information; to see the books on how it’s going and to see predictions and forecasts for the next number of years.”
As for a timeline, Boucher talked more about a “hopeful” schedule, rather than one actually set at this point.
“There is an opportune time to construct them; usually we would start in October,” she said of the construction.
“So we’re hoping for this October to start them, as long as everything falls in line, and then up and running by the following year.”
Members of the Town of Antigonish Volunteer Fire Department packed council chambers during the meeting to hear council pass a motion for a new fire truck.
“It’s exciting … our fire department works very hard for us,” Boucher said.
“It’s all volunteer work; they’re very committed and they needed a truck that was safe and reliable. They’ve been asking for it for a while and it just so happens that we’re now able to secure the funds to purchase it,” she added, praising staff for making sure the new truck represent the best “bang for the buck.”
“The fire department, knowing the town has to be very careful where it spends its money, made the truck last as long as they could, but it’s at a point now where it wouldn’t be road-worthy anymore,” Boucher said, adding the new truck will, actually, replace two existing trucks and is coming in at a cost of $576,000.
Boucher talked about the formation of an accessibility committee to oversee town improvement in that regard, during the meeting.
“That’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” she said.
“For the last few years I’ve heard about it; a number of our residents have challenges and it came to the forefront during the campaign, as well. I know that all of the councillors heard about it, so I thought it was a good time to bring it up.”
Boucher said there was also speculation the provincial government was going to insist municipalities look at their accessibility situations.
“There are a lot of municipalities that already have an accessibility committee struck and I think we have quite a bit of work to do within the Town of Antigonish, this seems like a good time to do it,” she said.
“We realize it’s going to affect the budget for sure; accessibility is well worth it.
“I think we have to phase it in; there are some easier things we could do and others which will cost more money, but I think it’s essential all of our residents feel welcomed and have the ability to move around freely within the Town of Antigonish. It makes the community more welcoming to visitors as well.”
Boucher said a report will come back from staff for next month’s meeting.
“It [report] will be terms of reference and structure of the committee and who will be on it,” she said.
“It’s exciting; I know it’s adding another committee to those we already have, and I know our councillors are very busy with our committees as is, but I think it’s a necessity, in this day and age, that we become as barrier-free as we can.”