Feds, province confirm water upgrades and land transfer

PORT HAWKESBURY: A long-desired transfer of land from the provincial government to town ownership and a federal-provincial contribution to a major overhaul of water and sewer systems along two town streets were among a series of announcements made Friday morning at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.

Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Michel Samson and Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner confirmed that a combined $2.4 million, split evenly between the provincial and federal governments, will come from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund to rehabilitate the water system serving Pitt and Napean Streets and enable construction of a new booster station in Tamarac Heights.

While both projects will see the replacement of aging infrastructure, Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton predicted that several town citizens will feel the impact of the Pitt-Napean project, which includes the replacement of all underground utilities, including water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer infrastructure.

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“With new underground infrastructure, asphalt, sidewalks, curb and gutter, this town will see a phenomenal improvement,” the mayor declared.

“It will move us closer to being able to have a community that is safe for walkers and other users of the road.”

Cuzner credited current and former elected officials and municipal staff for seeing the water and sewer projects through to the funding stage.

“I remember [former mayor] Billy Joe [MacLean] and [former Chief Administrative Officer] Maris [Freimanis] talking about this awhile back, so it’s great to get this thing over the line,” the veteran MP recalled.

A much smaller financial transaction concluded the morning’s ceremonies, as Chisholm-Beaton presented Samson with a one-dollar coin to symbolize the town’s payment to complete the transfer of a six-acre parcel of land from the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) into town hands.

Located between the Civic Centre and the Port Hawkesbury Veterans’ Memorial Park on Reeves Street, the property formerly housed the Canso Regional Vocational School (CRVS) building that evolved into Port Hawkesbury’s Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) campus, prior to the relocation of all NSCC operations to the current Strait Area Campus building on the outskirts of Port Hawkesbury and the 2004 demolition of the former CRVS/NSCC building.

“The Province of Nova Scotia is happy to get out of the way, step aside, and let the mayor and council of the Town of Port Hawkesbury and your residents determine your future with regards to this prime piece of real estate,” Samson said during Friday’s announcement.

Chisholm-Beaton, who was credited by Samson for her role in bringing years of negotiations on the property to a successful conclusion, told those in attendance that “significant interest” has already been shown by developers interested in helping the town achieve its desires for commercial and mixed-use development on the former CRVS/NSCC land.

“Developing this property will be a game-changer to our town,” she predicted.

“It aligns with our plan to take Reeves Street from what presently looks and feels like an industrial highway to an urban street that is safer, more economically robust, and it will be a street that our citizens will live, work, study and play on.”