ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Antigonish Town Council kicked around the idea of making it the responsibility of residents to mow the grass on sidewalk medians/boulevards, in front of their property, as a cash-saving measure, during council’s regular monthly public meeting Feb. 20.
After a good discussion, which went back and forth, council voted to allocate more money to continue that work while also responding to an Engage Antigonish desire to see more concentration on sport fields and facilities in the community, to make sure they’re continually ready for play.
Mayor Laurie Boucher spoke to the discussion and decision following the meeting.
“One of the conclusions coming from Engage, the residents of our community want us to put more time and effort into recreational facilities and outdoor space,” she said.
“Also, some reports from community sport organizations noted that they’re having trouble with some of our facilities that are not quite up to standard, as they’re going to use those facilities, so that hinders their play or hosting of certain events.
“So we asked; ‘where can we improve our level of service without increasing the money we’re spending,’ and the way we’re going to do that is to reconfigure the organizational chart and try and put more focus on the parks and recreation part, keep that up. In doing that, we had a choice of stop mowing the grass medians and have our residents mow it, or put extra money/resources in there to make sure that it’s done. Well, you heard the will of council tonight; we take pride in our community.”
Boucher said, “first impressions are lasting impressions.”
“We want that service to continue, therefore we had to allocate some additional funds to make sure that is done,” she said.
With news that work at the Main, Hawthorne and West Street intersection will be costing more than was originally estimated out there for a while now, Boucher was asked about feedback council has heard from residents.
“We’re appreciative when anyone has any kind of input into things we’re doing; we’re firm believers in that we want to be transparent and open, want to listen to our residents, and listen to the visitors to our community as well,” she said.
“We did hear from a number of people – I know I fielded a number of questions through email, text, phone as well. Our director of communication got the word out there as far as where the money was going, where it was being spent, and that kind of calmed everything down a little bit.”
Last year, council projected cost for work at the intersection to be around the $400,000 mark; they approved a bid from B.D. Clifton Contracting Ltd., during a special meeting Feb. 4, at a price tag of $560,115 plus tax.
“Some of it is the tariffs coming from the U.S, some of the things we were able to get this time last year have increased in price,” Boucher said. “Some of that is the reason, but then there is also inflation.
“I think people are very involved in their municipality, in their community, and they want to know where their hard earned money is going. We welcome anyone who questions what this council is spending money on.
“Once people understand where the money is going, why it’s going there, people have a lot better understanding and are fine with it.”
Work, which includes new traffic lights as well as a traffic island, lane widening and new sidewalk, is scheduled to begin right after St. F.X. spring convocation and to be completed before the Antigonish Highland Games in July.
“We want as little down time as possible for the businesses in that area,” Boucher said.
“Of course, there are things out of our control, such as weather and things like that, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we stick to that time line.”