ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Despite bids coming back significantly higher than anticipated, Town of Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said work planned for the spring, at the intersection of Hawthorne, Main and West streets, is still a go.
“When we look at some of the revenue we’re getting from the windmill farm - from AREA (Alternative Resource Energy Authority), and the fact we did forward $400,000 from last year so the impact is not as bad this year, this would be the time to do it,” Boucher, talking to reporters following council’s regular monthly public meeting Jan. 21, said.
“Council really feels this is the right thing to do and we’re supporting staff on this. What has been presented to date has been very thorough, and we really do believe it will improve the traffic flow in that area of Main Street.”
The work, which includes new traffic lights and a traffic island, is scheduled to begin right after St. F.X. spring convocation and to be wrapped up before the busier tourist type of events come to town, such as the annual Highland Games or the provincial 55 + Games which Antigonish is hosting in the mid-summer.
Town officials were estimating costs in the $400,000 range while the three bids they’re considering came back closer to $600,000.
“Staff is going to go over [the plan] and try to [receive] more of a breakdown from each of the bids,” Boucher said. “We’ll see where that goes and if we can tighten up some of the bids a little bit, and have more clarity of what is actually being provided.”
Similar to last year’s flooding of a popular downtown parking lot, heavy rains once again brought water into the Creighton Lane parking area; but a more proactive approach, as well as slower moving water, saved the damage caused to numerous vehicles last winter.
“The clean-up went well, it was due to the fact that there were no cars in the parking lot when the cleaning started,” Boucher said of the weather event during the Jan. 18-20 weekend.
“The water rose a lot slower this time so we could adjust; last year it was very quick - within 15 to 20 minutes we had the back parking lot flooded. This year it rose a bit more slowly and we anticipated; we put precautions in so nobody would park in the Creighton parking lot after 5 p.m. on Friday. That was anticipating that, yes, there would be some flooding.
“When the water did start to recede, crews went and cleaned up some of ice and so, it’s flowing well now.”
Boucher said the work does come from the town’s winter weather budget which is doing OK because there hasn’t been a lot of snow yet.
“Although we’ve had a variation of weather; thawing, freezing, temperatures dropping and rising very quickly, we haven’t had a lot of snow to date, so we’re doing OK in that category,” she said.
The council meeting began with a presentation from representatives of The Arts House.
The presentation included a funding request for some pressing operational costs. Council agreed to the request and a motion was passed to grant $3,500 to The Arts House.
Boucher talked about the work put in by volunteers with The Arts House, who are the same folks who run the Antigonish Art Fairs on Friday evenings in the spring and summer at Chisholm Park.
“Hundreds of hours, all for the good of our community,” she said
“Everything they’ve started, from the art fairs to special events like the Halloween night, and now The Arts House; they start small and it just builds. Beth [Latwaitis, one of the volunteers making the presentation] hit it on the nail; hard work and community involvement are the keys to success. Everyone is buying into it; I can see this building get bigger and bigger. It’s a great addition to our community.”
The building is actually the former Visitor Information Centre (VIC) located in the Market Square parking lot, near Boston Pizza. Boucher said it’s great to see the location repurposed and now being utilized for all kinds of art activities.
“Where it was placed for the VIC was not ideal, it was kind of hidden away,” she said. “But for The Arts House, it’s ideal. There is a lot of parking, outdoor space for camps, the repurposing of it was prefect.
“You don’t want to start destroying buildings or let them dilapidate … this is great for the community.”