PORT HAWKESBURY: Two major overhauls of town streets are a step closer to becoming reality, according to a presentation made by Port Hawkesbury’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at this week’s regular monthly town council meeting.

Terry Doyle provided an updated timeline and cost breakdown for the first phase of the Destination Reeves Street development at the May 2 council meeting, which also included news that replacement of aging water and sewer infrastructure along Pitt and Napean Streets is slated to get underway as early as July.

The latter project, which includes the replacement of all underground utilities – including water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer infrastructure, as well as the provision of new sidewalk, curb and gutter work – is expected to be “disruptive” to residents and businesses along Pitt and Napean Streets, according to Doyle. In anticipation of these difficulties, town officials will meet with residents and business owners in the coming weeks to prepare them for the work to be carried out over the coming summer.

“We’re in the design phase now,” the CAO explained. “We hope to have tenders out in June and do work starting in July.”

As for Destination Reeves Street, Doyle reported that the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) is expected to hold a public meeting in Port Hawkesbury over the next two months to discuss the project with town residents. He added that the first phase of the development is likely to take shape before the end of the calendar year, with the official launch of the town’s façade and streetscape program, the completion of the final design for the Reeves Street updates, and the issuing of the first round of tenders to carry out this work.

The CAO also provided an updated breakdown of the Destination Reeves Street price tag, which has now reached a projected total of $5.3 million, up from the “very early ballpark estimate” of $4 million Doyle had presented to council this past fall. This figure includes $1.6 million in federal funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), $2.2 million from the provincial government, and a minimum of $500,000 and a maximum of $750,000 from the town’s share of the Canada-Nova Scotia Gas Tax Fund.

In making his presentation to council, Doyle noted that he has received word from federal government officials that an ACOA decision on the town’s funding proposal should arrive “within the next six weeks,” and he added that consultations with the business community on the status of the façade and streetscape program are among the town’s immediate priorities regarding the multi-dimensional Reeves Street overhaul.

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls from businesses about the façade program – we hope to see that momentum continue,” said Doyle, who also noted that discussions on the entrances and exits to strip-mall developments along Reeves Street will be crucial to the project’s success.

“The idea now is to talk with businesses to ask, ‘Do you think this is going to work?’”