2016 was another active year for the District of Saint Mary’s.
We completed our strategic plan and have started a number of initiatives to help move forward with the goals and objectives identified in the plan.
The contract with Eastern Shore Cartage for roadside collection of solid waste was renegotiated for a one year period and changes made to find cost savings. One change of note is the biweekly collection of bulky items to replace the twice annual collection of large, heavy items.
The Community Development & Recreation Department offered a broad range of programs and activities again this year. After school programs, summer camps and swimming lessons were a large part of the youth programs and community activities for seniors made up the bulk of the recreational programing. Other activities included seniors games held once again at Liscombe Lodge and partnership with the Sherbrooke Village on Old Fashion Christmas events.
Court Street was paved this year with cost sharing from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal under the Subdivision Program. Waterlines on Court Street, Third and Second Streets were replaced and manholes repaired prior to the paving project.
We were successful in securing federal and provincial funding for a larger waterline replacement project under the new Clean Water and Waste Water Fund Program (CWWF) and planning for that project is underway. The $1.7 million project will receive 50 per cent federal and 25 per cent provincial funding. We anticipate the project will be substantially complete by March 31, 2018.
The compressors at the RecPlex required a major overhaul this year prior to the ice being installed in early November. That was completed, using funding out of the Roy Steed Trust Fund, and another year of winter activities is well underway at the facility.
As a member of the group of eastern region municipalities that partnered on the Diamond Financial Management software, we continue to develop options for online payment of tax and utility bills, records management and Virtual Town Hall applications.
During Small Business Week in October we hosted an event highlighting local products and food from the District of Saint Mary’s. We had an excellent turnout for the event and created meaningful linkages between many of the local small businesses.
2016 was a municipal election year in Nova Scotia and all incumbent councillors who reoffered in the Municipality were elected to Council. Two councillors did not reoffer and thus we will have two new people on council this term.
We continue to meet and work with the Volunteer Fire Departments in an effort to coordinate and improve fire services for the District.
We continue to partner with the Towns of Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury, the County of Antigonish and District of Guysborough in the Eastern Strait Region Enterprise Network (ESREN) to promote and support regional economic growth in the area. Some of the projects we want the ESREN to focus on is improved infrastructure such as faster and better coverage for rural high speed internet and greater cellular phone services in Saint Mary’s.
In December the new Economic Development Officer started at the Municipality. Over the coming months he will be meeting with businesses and the public to develop an economic development plan for the area. Our intention is to look for economic opportunities for the municipality through promoting and supporting existing businesses and attracting new investment.
On December 30 our Clerk/Treasurer for close to 30 years, Mr. David Gillis, will retire. On behalf of council and staff at the Municipality, I want to thank Dave for all his years of dedicated service and wish him all the best for a long and enjoyable retirement.