PORT HAWKESBURY: Town officials here are already putting the wheels in motion to develop a portion of Reeves Street land that the town acquired from the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR) in late April.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Terry Doyle took a few moments at last week’s regular meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council to provide a follow-up report on the town’s purchase of a six-acre parcel of land located between the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre and Port Hawkesbury Veterans’ Memorial Park.

The property once housed the Canso Regional Vocational School (CRVS) building that evolved into Port Hawkesbury’s Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), 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.

During an April 28 ceremony that saw the town purchase the former provincial land for $1, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said that “significant interest” has already been shown by developers interested in helping the town establish commercial and mixed-use development on the former CRVS/NSCC land.

Doyle echoed this sentiment at the May 2 town council meeting, confirming that the town is already piecing together a formal expression of interest for the six acres of land in question.

“We’re working with a developer to get a call-for-interest put out in the next month for other developers,” said the CAO, who noted that the town is hoping to see the area put to use in short order.

“We don’t want the buyer to sit on the property – we insist that it be developed.”

The town received a formal commitment regarding the land transfer from provincial officials this past summer, following a final year-long round of negotiations with DTIR and the Strait regional school board (SRSB), whose SAERC high school site is adjacent to the land in question.

While town officials have not speculated on their specific desires for the former CRVS/NSCC property, the town’s former mayor, Billy Joe MacLean, spent a significant portion of his final two terms in office suggesting that the property could host a senior-oriented multipurpose centre that would include up to 100 housing units and such amenities as a bank, a pharmacy and a medical clinic.