Antigonish County and province reach agreement on courthouse

ANTIGONISH: The courthouse is remaining under current ownership.

During a special meeting of Antigonish Municipal Council on July 5, council members voted to accept amendments to the lease between the province and the municipality for the Antigonish Courthouse.

Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron said the provincial government is increasing the rent it pays the municipality for the use of the courthouse. The province also offered an allotment of money earmarked for necessary capital improvements for the courthouse.

Last month, the Antigonish Barrister’s Society made a presentation to council asking that the facility remain in use, as it is the only courthouse in the county capable of hosting a jury trial. The society also spoke with the province attorney general, and McCarron said this led to the province understanding the value of the facility.

McCarron said council is comfortable sticking with the remaining years of the lease with the province.

“We feel very comfortable, for the remaining years on the lease, that this was a good path forward for the municipality and for the legal community in Antigonish,” said McCarron, noting the lease will expire in about four years. “I think we looked at all parts of it. Obviously, the bid piece was one, but the legal community coming together and explaining the necessity for this type of courthouse in our community for jury trials certainly weighed on council’s decision.

“Plus, the province stepping up in a meaningful fashion was the other piece that we’re pleased with, and as a result, council made the decision to continue with the release,” McCarron continued.

McCarron said Antigonish County received a number of inquiries and only one bid for the courthouse during the Request for Proposals period. The warden said the lease changes will reduce the outflow of funds from the county, noting the previous cost of running the facility in a barebones fashion was still around $28,000.