Town of Antigonish special project co-ordinator Steve Scannell gave a lengthy presentation, during town council’s regular monthly public meeting Dec. 18, on a Business Improvement District (BID) report.
Complied by a steering committee examining the possibility of a BID for the town, the report is titled Building a Business Improvement District for the Town of Antigonish. The committee includes representation from the town, the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network, the Antigonish Chamber of Commerce and the Antigonish Downtown Business Association.
“We’ve had little updates all along, but that’s the biggest, most in-depth report we’ve had,” Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said of the presentation, when talking to reporters after the meeting.
“I have to commend both Stephen Scannell and the rest of the committee for working as hard as they did. A lot of research, a lot of looking at other BIDs that were successful, or not so successful, trying to figure out the reasons why, and changing it for how it might fit into the Town of Antigonish.
“I was very pleased; I believe most of council was very pleased with what was presented tonight.”
Boucher talked about the next step in the process.
“It (the report) will go to the chamber to see what they think about it, and the Downtown Business Association; they’re the business experts in town,” she said.
“So, roll it out to the businesses and see what they think. This has to be bought by the business community; this is not a town initiative, it’s a partnership. I said at the beginning of this council’s term, we’re going to be big on partnerships; we want to work with people. We can’t do it alone, we need the help of people in our town and I think this is a great example of that.
“Hopefully, there will be an uptake for it and, at the end of it; we’ll have somebody who is looking after our promotion and events within the Town of Antigonish,” Boucher said, referencing a key component of the report about a job created for the BID.
Funding was an area Scannell dedicated a lot of time to during his presentation.
“We don’t have the resources to do it alone,” Boucher said, noting this is part of the partnership conversation.
“We definitely need help, but we’re committed to putting time and effort towards it and some resources. Whatever money does come in for it, we have the ability to then increase that amount through funding from both the provincial and federal governments. It’s something to go to; it’s something we need in this town.”
The January Engage Antigonish event was discussed during the meeting.
On Jan. 31, starting at 6:30 p.m. at St. Ninian Place, people are encouraged to attend and “participate in a series of community-wide conversations where you can help shape the future of our town,” as noted on a postcard type of handout the town has produced.
“Together, we will identify priorities and discuss possibilities that will result in a citizen-led strategic plan for 2018 and beyond, for the Town of Antigonish,” the card reads.
“This council is very cognizant that it’s the people of Antigonish who make our town and community what it is, and we want their input,” Boucher said.
“Sometimes, when we’re sitting around the table, we’re not in tune with what is happening outside of the building and we have to be. There is no better way than to try and get people out to discuss items and, to have it facilitated by Engage Nova Scotia, is a huge bonus. They’ve been through it before and they know how to get the information and draw it out of our community.
“It’s a way to move forward together.”
Boucher stressed the words “accountable” and “transparent.”
“We want to hear what they have to say and, more importantly, we want to follow through on it,” she said.
“And we’ll revisit the strategic plan, once it’s set, every three or four months to make sure decisions we’re making are based on the results of our strategic plan; the results of the meeting which will form the strategic plan.
“We want to be accountable and have the community help us chart the course for the future of Antigonish.”
Council passed a motion to name the path, created over the last year which connects St. Bean Lane and Maple Drive, in honour of Eugene ‘Tilly’ Walsh who passed away in 2015.
“It’s a short little trail; green space we wanted to maintain within the Town of Antigonish,” Boucher said, noting it fits in with active transportation goals.
“What a great motion and way to honour Tilly for all the work he has done for us in the town.”
The goal to create a skateboard park in the area was discussed briefly during the meeting.
“We’ve been talking about it for quite a while now, working with the (Municipality of the County of Antigonish),” Boucher said.
“We’re trying to find a place to put it; we have a couple of ideas. We’re hoping, this time next year, we’ll have a skateboard park somewhere in town … that’s what we’re aiming for.”