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Antigonish Town Council: Public hearing for Victoria Street development June 11

Among the topics covered during Town of Antigonish council’s meeting May 27 was the future of a Main Street crosswalk between College and Acadia streets.
Among the topics covered during Town of Antigonish council’s meeting May 27 was the future of a Main Street crosswalk between College and Acadia streets. - Richard MacKenzie

Future of Main Street crosswalk also discussed

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

A five-to-two vote means a development proposed for 52 Victoria Street in Antigonish will be coming back for another public hearing, after already once being rejected by council.

The developer of the proposed construction - “a two unit dwelling immediately behind 52 Victoria Street on a ‘small lot’ to be created by the subdivision of the property,” as described on the notice for the public hearing - appealed the case to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB).

“We’ve been negotiating with the developer on a development agreement,” Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher told reporters, following council’s regular, monthly public meeting May 27, where the vote passing first-reading, which triggers the public hearing, took place.

Boucher talked more about the history of the situation.

“He can’t do [the development] as of right, because it’s zoned R-1, so he did come to PAC (planning advisory committee) and applied – asked to be rezoned to R-2,” Boucher said. “It went through the process; from first reading to a public hearing, and it was very evident to council at the public hearing that the neighbourhood, people in the neighbourhood, were against it. Council felt, at that time, it would change the character of the neighbourhood, so we voted against it.”

In voting against the first reading for the development agreement May 27, councillors Willie Cormier and Jack MacPherson said they didn’t want to put the residents in the area through the process of a public hearing again, and while councillor Andrew Murray echoed their point during the discussion, he eventually sided with his fellow councillors who felt it was best to let it go through the process again.

“I think that was what most of council was saying today; let it go through the process and see what happens,” Boucher said.

The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11, at 7 p.m. in council chambers at town hall.

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Tax reduction policy

Town director of corporate services Meaghan Barkhouse gave council a brief presentation on the town’s Low Income Property Tax Reduction Policy, which was a follow-up to the town passing their budget the previous week.

Councillor Diane Roberts praised the policy and suggested it needed greater exposure since it doesn’t seem to be taken advantage of as often as it could be. Roberts encouraged staff to do more to get the word out about the policy and its financial benefit.

“Staff did research to bring us up to par with other municipalities; so council voted to support staff recommendation and raise that amount up to $400 and some odd dollars,” Boucher said of the policy.

“[People] can come to town hall and get an application or get an application online. There is a minimum income [$25,000 or less] and we did raise it last year. We also opened it up to single moms and dads with low incomes, so we made it more accessible and raised the amount too; so we’re hoping people in the community will take advantage of the program.”

The policy can be found on the town’s website townofantigonish.ca and following the links from ‘Town Hall’ to ‘policies.’

Crosswalk future

In staff reports, it was noted the town’s traffic authority is proposing removing the crosswalk on Main Street which is, basically, between the People’s Place Library and the former Royal Canadian Legion location.

The fact the legion is no longer located at the location and there are crosswalks at intersections on either side of the crosswalk, were given as reasons.

It was further noted a report is being conducted and that a final decision would wait on the findings of the report.

Some councillors spoke in favour of keeping the crosswalk, noting that even with the legion moved, it’s still well-used and it’s safe, considering good sight-lines.

“People have different views on it,” Boucher said.

“Some people say you shouldn’t have a crosswalk in the middle of the street because you have one at each intersection there, so it’s kind of redundant. And cars coming up to it are not expecting to stop, so it could cause accidents.

“Others are saying it’s well used, well-lit and easy to view; so there are contrary opinions for sure. We will wait for the report from our engineering department and see what they recommend.”

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