Town of Antigonish council passed a motion late in their regular monthly public meeting, Nov. 20, which dealt with amendments to the land-use bylaw concerning lodging residences.
Mayor Laurie Boucher told reporters, after the meeting, the amendments dealt with issues which have come up over the last few years.
“The idea is; any household with more than four bedrooms, if it’s being used for rental purposes, will be considered a rooming house and will operate under different standards,” Boucher said. “This is to make sure everyone remains safe and it maintains the integrity of the neighbourhoods as well.”
Boucher was asked about policing the new bylaw amendments and said they can’t “guarantee” some place will not slip through.
“We do have to rely on when people are applying for building permits and items like that,” she said.
“Mostly, we’re concerned with homes that are purchased, maybe three-bedroom family homes that are suddenly converted into a five, six or even seven-bedroom homes, for persons; whether the living space is conducive to that type of housing and to make sure they’re safe. We’re concerned about that.
“Whenever renovations are done to a home, they [owners] should apply for a building permit and it’s through that process that we’ll be able to police it.”
Boucher talked about having faith in local landlords.
“We have a lot of landlords who are very good in the Town of Antigonish and I know most landlords will have no trouble with this – whatsoever,” she said.
Town director of corporate services Shelley Rector provided council with a mid-year report of the town’s financial picture, during the meeting.
“It’s a good eye-opener,” Boucher said.
“We do get reports monthly but to have Shelley come in and report, exactly, where we’re standing, helps us realize where we are … she does a great job as our financial manager.”
Boucher noted they’ll get a similar report at the nine-month point and it will be “a little tighter” and they’ll “dig a little deeper” into the figures, since it closer to their year-end and budget time.
“Hopefully, we’ll be in the same spot we are now,” she said, of the positive aspects of the report.
“We’re doing well; there are always some parts of a budget where you’re over or under but, as of right now, we’re about $150,000 under budget, which is great. Some of those things we are under budget on are hard to predict and a couple of snow storms could eat that up, but if everything goes as the way it’s planned right now, we’ll have a surplus by the end of the year.”
The November meeting was a point to welcome a new deputy mayor after a year stint by veteran councillor Willie Cormier.
Cormier nominated Diane Roberts, who returned to council during the municipal election in October 2016, after choosing to not run in 2012, and her nomination stood unopposed.
“I was lucky to have Willie for my first year because he does have quite a bit of experience and knowledge, and he was always there in support when I couldn’t be there,” Boucher said of the transition.
“And I’ve known Diane for quite a while and I know she’ll do a great job. She takes her job very seriously and is very knowledgeable as well. I look forward to the next year serving with Deputy Mayor Roberts.”
Noting the lights on the corner of Highland Drive and West Street weren’t in place by the predicted end of October date, Boucher said the expected time now is the end of this month or early in December.
“Most of that is because of the process,” Boucher said.
“Some of the products coming through the U.S. have to go through duty; once it passes there, it has to go through the province, be inspected and let go from there.
“That process is taking a little more time than predicted because some of the pieces were on back-order. As soon as they come in they’ll be up, as soon as possible.”
She added the company awarded the contract is now in penalty which is a good motivation for them to get the work done as soon as they can.
“They’re working hard to get them up as fast as they can,” she added.
In her recreation report, councillor Mary Farrell talked about plans for an outdoor skating rink, on the ball fields by Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional High School.
Boucher was asked about the proposed project.
“This is where we want Mother Nature to provide some cold,” Boucher said.
“It’s exciting. We’re always talking about active-transportation, active-living and outdoor skating, as I remember from when I was a kid, was a big part of my childhood. So to be able to give that to the younger generation, would be great.
“We have volunteers from the town helping us with it; it’s very exciting so we just have to wait for some cold weather now.”
Farrell noted there is still a call-out for volunteers to help with the maintenance of a rink, once it’s built, and those interested can contact the town’s recreation department at 902-867-5596.