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Antigonish County waiting for infrastructure funding to begin ‘shovel ready’ projects

logo - Corey LeBlanc

The wait continues – and officials with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish are frustrated.    

During council’s regular monthly meeting (Sept. 18), Warden Owen McCarron said he and municipal clerk treasurer Glenn Horne recently travelled to Halifax for a meeting with provincial officials regarding the availability of infrastructure monies.    

“Our concern is the federal government is indicating to us the monies are there and ready to go,” McCarron said of an existing provincial-federal bilateral pact, adding the province “doesn’t necessarily seem like it has all the pieces together to roll the program out.”    

“We wanted to keep that on the radar and ensure that we are getting consideration because we have a couple shovel-ready projects.”    

He noted the importance of getting the funding out sooner rather than later.    

“I think the federal government is on the same wavelength with us on that, so we are looking forward to some sort of announcement on program details shortly,” McCarron said.    

The two ‘shovel ready’ initiatives are the North Grant waterline and a water line looping project.    

“If a waterline goes down, we have a back-up source, so longer stretches of areas aren’t impacted, if you have a water main break,” McCarron explained, regarding the latter project.    

He noted the engineering work is complete for both and “we are ready go.”    

“If we get something started this fall, or not, remains to be seen,” McCarron said.    

On the similar infrastructure theme, he was asked if there has been any progress when it comes to improving cell and broadband service.    

“I think all three levels of government realize the important piece it is for rural Nova Scotia and rural communities, and Antigonish County is one of those,” McCarron said, adding “keeping it at the forefront” will bring some results.    

“I think the key is getting the ‘tele-cos’ [telecommunications companies] to recognize that they have to roll out these projects to areas more rural in nature.”

Village no more    

The Nova Scotia Department of Municipal Affairs has approved the municipality’s request to dissolve the Village of Havre Boucher.    

“Basically, it was symbolic the last number of years and, I think, in the last few years, the function was looking after the street lights,” McCarron said of the community’s village commission.    

In an Aug. 29 letter, municipal affairs minister Chuck Porter confirmed he has signed an order for dissolution.    

He also indicated the municipality met the required criteria, including confirming no meeting of the village commission’s electors had occurred in at least two years.    

“The meeting was held with the local [county] councillor [Neil Corbett] and the lone village commissioner [Raymond Carpenter],” McCarron said, which fulfilled the need to serve any known commissioners with 90 days’ notice of the dissolution application.    

He noted the village commission was established “many, many years ago,” when the first sewer system was constructed in the community.    

“Things have changed a lot – and municipalities have changed a lot – over time, so it was decided to dissolve it,” McCarron said.    

He added the dissolution discussion with council started six months or so ago. 

Long time coming    

McCarron praised the partnership involved with the announcement last month (Aug. 23) of plans to construct a skate park in Antigonish.    

The Municipality of the County of Antigonish is one of the collaborators on the initiative, joining    the Town of Antigonish, St. F.X. and the Antigonish Skatepark Collective (formerly the Antigonish Highland Skateboarding Association).

“Now, it is about working out the finer details, including the funding pieces and what funding will be coming from where,” he said.    

“But certainly, for the people who have been pushing this for more than 20 years, it was a nice announcement to see that happen.”    

The skate park, which will be located on property between the former county building on West Street and the Antigonish RCMP detachment on Fairview Street, has an estimated price tag of $700,000.    

The proponents have already secured a $200,000 contribution from an anonymous donor.    

“At this point, it is too early [to say] what they might be,” McCarron said, when asked about the county’s financial contribution.    

“Obviously, they will have to drill down on what the cost of that park will be and then whatever funding streams might happen, whether it is provincially or federally.”    

During the council meeting, the warden congratulated Councillor Mary MacLellan on the announcement, while crediting her for her work over the years in trying to bring a skate park to Antigonish.

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