Dr. Frank Hayden (left), founder of Special Olympics Canada was honoured during the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games by Special Olympics Chair Mark Tewksbury, and presented with a gift for his contributions over the past 50 years.

ANTIGONISH: The town’s tax rates are staying the same.

During a special meeting of council on May 21, the Town of Antigonish set its residential tax rate at $1.09 per $100 of assessment and its commercial rate at $2.61 per $100 of assessment, keeping them in line with last year. The town approved $10.67 million in total municipal expenditures with a capital plan of $3,087,400.

“Congratulations are in order to staff,” said Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher. “They came through with a wonderful budget for us. It’s exciting to be able to say there are no tax raises in the Town of Antigonish.”

Sewer rates increased from .509 to .609 per cent, for an increase of $8.19 on the average resident’s quarterly water bill. Council explained the increase was added to deal with the depreciation cost of the town’s sewer infrastructure, with the collected funds held in a reserve for eventual repairing or replacing sewer lines as needed.

The town is spending $316,000 to improve sidewalk safety and accessibility, $697,000 for street and parking lot paving, $17,000 for potential partnerships with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish for an Active Transportation Plan and a dog park, and $35,000 for flood mitigation efforts.

“A lot of the paving projects that are being done this year, we’re really looking into making sure that the parking lots are a priority as well,” said Boucher. “There are a lot of things in the budget that I think people are going to be very happy with.”

Boucher also noted the town is supporting the all-wheels skate park and sandlot accessible ballfields, as well as local groups and events through the town’s community grant program, and investing in Antigonish Community Transit, the Antigonish Heritage Museum, and St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation.

“Sport tourism is very big and trending now and we want to be in on it,” she said. “We’ve proven through hosting the [2018 national summer] Special Olympics that we are a contender and it’s a wonderful place to host events. We want to look more into doing more of that.”