PORT HAWKESBURY: The Town of Port Hawkesbury and Municipality of the County of Richmond have agreed to move forward with a partnership acquire a piece of provincially-owned infrastructure that provides water to customers in the Town of Port Hawkesbury and Point Tupper.

“This evening, council approved a motion to establish an inter-municipal agreement which is formed to create a new utility,” said CAO Terry Doyle following last week’s regular monthly council meeting for the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

Under the agreement, the new Landrie Lake Water Utility will be jointly owned and operated by the Town of Port Hawkesbury and the County of Richmond. Now that the two municipalities have reached an agreement to take control of the facility, they are waiting on a response from the provincial government regarding the transfer of the infrastructure.

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“The province has to agree to sign over the asset under the conditions that we requested, so that’s still under the consideration of government right now,” said Doyle.

Doyle said the municipalities have been involved in serious negotiations with the province on the takeover since 2014.

“Part of the process will be an application to the Utility and Review Board. We’ll have to present a rate study at that time, and that will determine the final outcome of whether there will be an issue with rate change for our customers,” said Doyle.

Doyle said he is confident that the town is prepared to move forward with the agreement. He said a significant amount of research has been conducted on the Landrie Lake facility.

“There was a study on the facilities, both mechanically and on the buildings, so there has been a great deal of information that we have had to absorb,” he said. “We believe that we have the information we need to be able to take this step.”

Doyle said the partnership with the County of Richmond throughout the negotiations has been positive.

“We’re very encouraged by not just this, but other initiatives that we’re working on together.”

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said she believes the change will be beneficial for the town.

“Having control of that essential piece of infrastructure and that service we provide our citizens here in the Town of Port Hawkesbury is very, very important,” she said. “Council is supportive of that move forward and certainly we’re happy to be working with our neighboring Richmond County to co-own and operate this utility.”