Council commits funds to Arichat sidewalk and streetscape project

ARICHAT: Richmond Municipal Council has formally committed $2 million towards an ambitious sidewalk and streetscape program that is scheduled to take shape over the next two years in this Isle Madame community, pending the financial participation of three other partners.

Councillors unanimously approved a motion to contribute municipal funds to the Arichat Mainstreet Revitalization Project, with the motion from Deputy Warden James Goyetche noting that these monies are “contingent on federal and provincial funding.” Goyetche’s motion was seconded by fellow Isle Madame councillor Alvin Martell.

If financial support subsequently comes from the other two levels of government and Isle Madame’s business community, the project’s planning and design phase will begin later this year, with construction beginning in the spring and summer of 2019, according to Richmond Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jason Martell.

Outlining the project in the late stages of last week’s municipal council meeting in Arichat, Martell predicted that the years of discussion that have gone into the Arichat project, including significant background work by the Isle Madame Tourism and Trade Association (IMTTA), have put Richmond County “in a unique position” to include the local business community among its funding partners.

“We have applied to the provincial government just last week, and with the business component, we know that there’s interest from the businesses, because IMTTA have done a lot of work with businesses, they’ve met with businesses, they’ve had a list that they’ve provided us of businesses that, at that time, were interested in doing a façade in front of their business,” Martell reported.

“It’s been something we’ve been discussing for awhile, and now it’s moving along nicely.”

If it proceeds as scheduled, the Arichat Mainstreet Revitalization Project would encompass 0.74 kilometres of new sidewalk extending from the north side of Highway 206, from Bay Lane to Highland Street, along with “extensive new streetscaping and business façade improvements,” the CFO added.

Despite council’s support of the Arichat development, including the launch of a steering committee on the project the day after the council meeting, Petit de Grat resident Robbie Fougere told the meeting’s public question period that he was surprised that such a major project was not on council’s official published agenda for the evening and instead arose as an item added to the agenda.

“The chambers are almost empty [tonight], and with a project of that nature, this chamber should be full. Had people known that the sidewalk project was on the agenda, this place would have been packed,” Fougere remarked.

Warden Brian Marchand explained that any items to be considered as additions to a formal council agenda must be submitted by 2 p.m. on the day of a council meeting, but then added that the municipality could make an extra effort to ensure the public is aware of such additions.

“Those would be hard to get on [the official published meeting agenda], and I don’t think we can rectify that unless we inhibit people from doing that,” Marchand commented.

“Maybe the items can be added on the [municipal] Web site, maybe by 2 o’clock, the day of the meeting. That’s the best we can do with that.”