GUYSBOROUGH – The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) heard from Canso Curling Club representative Susan O’Handley at the municipality’s committee of the whole meeting on May 17 that the building’s roof and some other important components of the club, such as the ice-making plant and curling stones, needed repair or replacement. She told councillors that money for the necessary work is in short supply.
The Canso Curling Club, in existence since 1908, has been located in Hazel Hill since 1967.
O’Handley told council, “A good deal of our ice plant is from 1967 and it was second-hand then.”
The club has been trying over the past two-and-a-half years to secure funding to replace the ice plant but has not met with success in applications submitted to ACOA. To date, the group has $12,500 from the municipality and $13,326.77 from the province for a project with an estimated cost that has ballooned to approximately $160,000 due to recent inflation and COVID-related shortages.
O’Handley said the group is doing very well with membership but needs the funds to keep the facility operational. She asked that council help the club find the funding necessary to keep the doors open.
Deputy Warden Janet Peitzsche made a motion, which passed unanimously, to have municipal staff investigate possible funding options for the club.
Following the presentation by O’Handley, MODG Warden Vernon Pitts gave his monthly report.
“I’ve visited a few construction sites the last while and it certainly does my heart good. I see the sidewalks are progressing along quiet well [along Highway 16 in Guysborough]. I see the apartment building is going really well [on the corner of Church and Queen Streets, Guysborough]. Cutler’s Brook Estates [subdivision construction in Guysborough] is looking good…Things are certainly starting to happen in the municipality…It’s all positive.”
Development Officer Deborah Torrey brought the issue of the Little Dover Subdivision to council. Interest has been expressed in the purchase of land and a request was brought to council to have the parcel sold by public tender process. Council approved the request.
Director of Public Works Glen Avery’s report to council noted that collection was down in the annual bulk container program.
Pitts said, “The way I interpret that, Glenn, I think that program is and has been successful. I think we should continue it going forward because, if we’re only getting 25 per cent, then 75 per cent must be going to the landfill. We’re collecting that other 25.”
Avery also reported that a tender had been accepted for the Commercial Cable project in Hazel Hill. The project will develop an interpretive centre to tell the story of the building and the historical significance of the both the structure and its operations. Avery explained that this was the second time the MODG had put the project to tender, and in order to tender the project again changes had to be made.
“We retendered and now we can negotiate with the tender,” said Avery. “So, we can put some of this back in. We will have discussions with them…There’s some things we won’t put in but hopefully it will have the same look.”
In an email to The Journal about the project, Avery stated, “The design was to include accessibility to the ground floor, where there would be a walking path in the former basement, interpretive panels, glass etchings, cantilevered area from Front Street looking down into the basement along with several other ideas.”
Of two tenders received for the project, Flagship Construction’s bid was accepted at $215,700, plus HST, instead of the $445,239, plus HST, bid by BD Clifton Contracting LTD.
The estimated start date on the project by Flagship was May 15, with completion slated for July 7, 2023.
Once again, Director of Recreation Angie Tavares said her department is having difficulty filling summer student positions.
“We are very low in receiving applications this year,” said Tavares, adding, “If any of you know any students from Grade 10 up, please tell them to apply, if they are interested. Typically, we just take Grade 12 and university students but because our numbers are so low, we will train and take Grade 10 students and we could transfer them over to the PACY program [after school program] in the fall as well.”
Tavares also told council that on May 15, MODG received a letter from the Strait Regional Centre for Education asking the municipality to consider moving the Fanning Fitness Centre [housed in the Fanning Education Centre/Canso Academy (FECCA) building] to another location in the community. This request, she said, was assumed to be due the SRCE’s proposed development of a childcare centre in the school.
She added, since the mid-2000s, MODG and the members of the fitness centre have enjoyed 1,200 square feet of space within FECCA at no charge. There are currently 43 memberships at the Fanning Fitness Centre.
The estimated rental cost for a new operational space, said Tavares, would be between $1000 to $2000 per month, but renovation would likely be necessary for ventilation, accessibility, flooring, electrical work, bathrooms, change rooms and showers – which could range from $50,000 to $100,000.
Tavares asked the committee of the whole to authorize the municipal recreation department to develop and issue an RFP (request for proposals) for potential settings for the relocation of the 1,200 square foot Fanning Fitness Centre and associated amenities in the Canso/Hazel Hill area.
She added that the job to relocate the centre would not be easy or cheap and “none of this has been budgeted for this year’s budget.”
Pitts said, “In saying that, we knew that this was going to happen, eventually, so eventually is now.”
Council authorized issuing the RFP.
Police advisory committee
In other business, councillors discussed the recent highlighting in the media of the lack of a police advisory committee in the municipality. The MODG is one of four municipal units, including neighbouring District of St. Mary’s, which doesn’t have a police advisory committee. In its stead, the MODG has had quarterly reports directly from the RCMP.
In the past, Deputy CAO Shawn Andrews said, the MODG had advertised for committee members and did not receive any. Going forward, he said, there are two options: go back out to the public looking for members to be appointed or inform the minister that a satisfactory alternative has been establish in conjunction with the RCMP, equal to or better than the governance provided by the advisory board.
Pitts stated that he thought the system was working well for the municipality and took the ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ approach.
Councillor Paul Long said the recent Mass Casualty Commission report did recommend changes to the status quo on how policing was done in the province.
Long said, “We don’t have that type of committee that the Mass Casualty is recommending, but if what we have is deemed satisfactory, then that’s fine; but, I think, that’s something that needs to be communicated to the public because we’re going to be asked the question sooner or later, ‘Why don’t you have this committee?’ And we have a reasonable facsimile…however, they need to be here on a more regular basis. I’ve probably seen them once since I’ve been here…To me I think we need to put a little more teeth into it.”
Council passed a motion to ask staff to investigate the quarterly RCMP reporting system and speak to the local RCMP members to determine if they are satisfied with it.