PORT HAWKESBURY: Following November’s regular council meeting, Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton says the Destination Reeves Street project is progressing according to schedule.
“We’re on track. I mean, obviously we wanted it funded the day after we put the proposal in, but all things take time,” said Chisholm-Beaton.
The mayor said the town has received a commitment for some funding from the province.
“We’re just waiting on a few other funding partners and then we should hopefully see some action happening,” she said.
The mayor says support for the proposed overhaul of Reeves Street has been strong. The town has been hosting consultation sessions with business leaders and advisory groups. Council has received letters of support from local business owners, which were read at November’s monthly council meeting.
“We certainly have a wonderful level of support at the community level, at the business level and also at the level of industry. I think they see the merit of building a Reeves Street that is going to retain and attract new business, but also be safe,” said Chisholm-Beaton.
Safety has been a major concern over the course of the project. In October, a planned walk-a-thon from the Nova Scotia Community College Strait Area Campus to the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre was diverted to Granville Street due to safety concerns. The proposed Destination Reeves Street plan would include safety modifications such as an active transportation lane that would make the town more accessible for pedestrians.
“Right now, Reeves Street is an overbuilt four lane highway going through the center of town. We have residents on one side, and on the other side, we have a school with a daycare, and a pool… These children are going across this highway and speeding is a huge issue,” said Chisholm-Beaton.
“That’s one of the incentives of making this project happen.”
After more details of the design plan have been finalized; the town hopes to partner with the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (NSDTIR) to hold consultations with the general public.
“We can’t really do justice to a public consultation unless we have our NSDTIR engineer there to run through their plan, because, at the end of the day, it’s their real estate,” said Chisholm-Beaton.
The mayor hopes that by next summer after the new fiscal year has started, the town will have enough support in place to begin breaking ground.
“That’s when you’ll see the real, physical stuff happening,” said Chisholm-Beaton.
Some elements of the project, such as the completion of the active transportation lanes, may not come together until the following year.
“We’re continuing to negotiate with NSDTIR. They want to make sure that they’re happy with their engineering plan and [then] we’ll continue negotiating on how they want that work to unfold,” said the mayor, adding that the project contains a lot of moving parts. “Maybe they’ll want to do it all at once or maybe they’ll want to do it over a two year process. We’re still having those conversations.”