Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Griffiths report will be ‘front and centre’ in MODG’s plans

Budget to be tabled March 20

  • March 20 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH — When it comes to the details of the municipal budget for the upcoming fiscal year (ending March 31, 2025), the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG’s) chief administrative officer keeps his cards dutifully close to his chest.

But Barry Carroll is not above offering one spoiler alert. “The Doug Griffiths report is, I think, front and centre and on council’s mind [this year]. That’s 100 per cent.”

After months of consultation with elected representatives and other community stakeholders, MODG staff will present its annual assessment of the municipality’s plans and priorities for 2024-2025 – including revenue and spending projections – at a special council/budget meeting Wednesday, March 20, in Guysborough at 4:30 p.m.

While the specifics remain secret until then, Carroll told The Journal last week, “The Doug Griffiths report has incentivized council to make some of the investments they are going to be making, not just at budget time but over the coming year, as the year rolls out ... Doug’s message was that sometimes you need a little bit of government intervention to do what you need to do in the community.”

Griffiths – a well-known community consultant based in Alberta – presented the findings of his extensive round of consultations with councillors, municipal officials, community groups and individuals across MODG on behalf of the Guysborough District Business Partnership at a public meeting in Guysborough last fall.

While acknowledging the area’s “natural beauties and amenities,” he urged residents to focus on collectively “drawing in new entrepreneurs and new investors to grow the economy and become more prosperous.” This will require “more businesses, more housing, and more housing diversity ... If we don’t market ourselves, and our potential, we won’t attract developers to build the housing. [The] good quality of life in the region is at risk without [more] people, businesses and housing growth.”

Carroll noted that the municipality is on the verge of several opportunities that would benefit from a more comprehensive approach to local economic development.

“We are looking at wind energy, and Vulcan Materials [Black Rock Quarry in Canso],” he said. “We are looking at the potential for Signal Gold and Melford Terminal. All of those projects are right on the cusp of happening. How do we prepare for that? With a little bit of Doug Griffiths in mind ... there’s a lot of work that goes into taking your highest benefit for the whole community from these larger projects.”

Beyond this, Carroll said, “The municipality generally allocates a fair portion of its budget to community groups. And there’s always requests from [them] coming in for various funding. They’re waiting to get responses, which usually comes at budget time ... There’s always some good news coming out of the budget.”

Last year, the 2023-2024 budget – projecting revenue and spending of $17,556.48 – held the line on residential and commercial tax rates. It also increased the low-income tax threshold and community grants.