Summer can’t be too far away if we’re talking about Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre and the Street Fair which takes place annually during Antigonish Highland Games week.
Presentations on both of those events were made during Antigonish Town Council’s regular monthly public meeting April 15 and, in talking about the events with reporters after, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher was still feeling the warmth.
“This is something that gets me excited about our town and county … our community in general,” she said, a reference to the fact organizers from the Antigonish Art Fair, another summer attraction for the town, are stepping in to take over organization of the street fair.
“I do believe as a public leader, your ideas and what you do can flow downhill. The communication and cooperation you see between the town, county and university, at a high level, you’re seeing it trickle down into community events and this is a prime example.
“We already have the Art Fair, which is very well established, they’ve worked hard to develop it; it has notoriety and a good reputation. And now they [the organizers] are going to expand and work with the town to provide the street fair. While, at the same time, taking in the Highland Games and working more with those folks to make it more of a Highland Games’ event.
“Those are the kind of things our council is very proud of. We do believe we lead by example and we’re at a time and place – and I’ve said this a number of times before – where we can’t do things alone anymore. Money is scarce, human resources are scarce, so we have to do things together.
“And these events are very important to the downtown, very important to our whole community actually, they make us richer.”
In talking about the street fair, it was noted folks can expect a similar set-up to last year where Main Street, from College to Church, was closed off.
“Same as last year; the year before that was the big one for Canada 150. We don’t have the capacity to do that again, this is more concentrated,” Boucher said.
“It’s an event people in town enjoy. It’s a beautiful family event on a summer afternoon which, kind of, kicks off Highland Games as well. It’s great for the downtown businesses; so it’s all very positive and we’re very pleased the Art Fair [folks] are going to take over the organization.”
Artist director Andrea Boyd did the presentation for Festival Antigonish, stressing the benefits it brings to the community and how appreciative the visiting actors, and others working at the festival, are for the way town and county residents make them feel right at home.
“Andrea did a fantastic job talking about how much it means to them to be able to be in Antigonish; how much the actors and other staff appreciate being in Antigonish,” Boucher said.
“She also talked about how her philosophy is to give back to the community and you can see that,” the mayor added, noting Festival Antigonish features such as the inclusive ‘relaxed performances,’ the financial consideration ‘pay-what-you-can performances,’ and the company’s emphasizes on its family stage.
Boucher said the town announcing its budget for the upcoming fiscal year is about “a month away.”
“Right now, it’s in staff’s hands and we’re hoping staff will have it into administration by the 17th of April – I believe – then to council by end of April, and by the middle of May have it finished,” she said.
“As always, we’ll try and deliver the same or even better services than we did in the year previous, with a minimum raise in taxes … that’s always our aim.
“We’ll have to see what the bottom line is once all those budgets are in from the different departments. We’ll see how far we’re off and look at taxes then.”
Council approved the name change of the group that oversees the Antigonish Arena. Formerly known as the Antigonish Arena Commission, it will now be known as the Antigonish Arena Association. The Municipality of the County of Antigonish did the same the following night, during their public meeting.
Boucher said it involves a governance change.
“It gave the committee a lot of control; we want council to have more control over what happens because of what happened with the exhibition a number of years ago, we didn’t want that to happen again,” Boucher said, referencing the controversy which arose as the then commission made moves to have the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition’s traditional dates changed.
“For the last two years, the governance model has been looked at very closely. We did receive a grant from Culture and Heritage of $5,000 to get a company come in and look at our governance model, and we’re presently looking for one member to sit – to represent the town – on the association board.”
Boucher said a goal of the association will be to look closely at where money could be saved.
“Find out where there is leakage in the budget and tighten it up a bit; make it easier for our manager to pay the bills in the long run,” she said. “I don’t know of any arenas that actually make money but it’s our due diligence to make sure we doing all we can to get as close to a balanced budget as we can.”
In his report as chair of the waste management committee, veteran councillor Jack Macpherson promoted a new Eastern Region Solid Waste Management mobile app as well as the upcoming dates for the popular bulky items pick-up.
The days for the pick-up are April 29, 30 and May 1 in correspondence with a resident’s regular garbage pick-up day.