2017 was a busy year for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's:
Municipal welcoming signs with the new logo were installed at several entrances to our municipality. We intend to complete installation at all boundary points as well as way-finding and facility signage this year.
A new five year contract was signed with Eastern Shore Cartage for roadside collection of solid waste and recyclables.
We continue to undertake initiatives to help achieve the goals and objectives identified in the Strategic Plan. Updates on the various initiatives are published in the monthly Newsletter.
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. A New Horizon grant was obtained that allowed us to sponsor senior socials in various communities. Assistance was provided to several community organizations to complete grant applications and provide planning assistance for projects such as the Port Bickerton Natural Space/Playground.
Partnering with Seaside Wireless Communications we were successful in obtaining funding from the province to install a new tower in Spanish Ship Bay to improve internet speeds in that area.
The Active Transportation Committee were successful in obtaining a Connect2 grant and completed a substantial upgrade to Stonewall Park.
Significant progress was made this year on updating assessment account information to improve the accuracy and timing for taxation purposes. We have been successful in reducing the amount of uncollected taxes through tax sales and improved billing information. Furthermore, we have just received a Capacity Building Grant from the Department of Municipal Affairs to enable us to continue with this initiative.
We continue to meet and work with the Volunteer Fire Departments in an effort to coordinate and improve fire services for the District. A new dry hydrant was installed in Goshen and an upgrade done on the Liscomb dry hydrant this year.
The Economic Development Officer position has been in place for a year and progress has been made in developing an economic development plan that is consistent with the municipal strategic plan. An Economic Development Committee was started and conducted public meetings this fall to gather input for inclusion in the plan going forward.
We continue to partner with the Towns of Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury, the County of Antigonish and the Municipality of the 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 are improved infrastructure such as faster and better coverage for rural high speed internet and greater cellular phone service in Saint Mary’s. Other opportunities will be identified as we continue with the regional approach.
We are continuing to update and improve our web site, ensuring that council information is current, including agendas, minutes and councillor expenses. A full revamp of the website is planned for the new year.
A ten minute question period has been added to the end of every regular council meeting this year in an effort to increase citizen engagement. We also hosted our first Open House on highlights of the budget this year, including a small operating surplus of $104,325 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
The Municipality made a five year commitment to St. Martha’s The Time Is Now Campaign. We will contribute $5,000 per year for the next five years to support health care in the region.
Working closely with the Sherbrooke Opportunities Society (SHOPS) and the Strait Regional School Board we saw the completion of the adult education room as the final part of the community component of the St. Mary's Education Centre/Academy.
On October 30, construction started on the waterline replacement project for the east side of the Sherbrooke Water Utility. By the end of 2017 we are about 60 per cent complete with the final competition date still targeted for March 2018. This is a $1.7 million project that is funded through the Clean Water and Waste Water Fund.
The Municipality of the District of St. Mary's would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.