County holds onto courthouse

ANTIGONISH: Residents seem pleased with the county’s decision to hang on to a historic courthouse.

Last month, during a special council meeting, Antigonish County Council voted to accept amendments to the lease between the province and the county regarding the Antigonish Courthouse. At the time, County Warden Owen McCarron said the province stepped up with an increase in rent and an allotment of money earmarked for necessary capital improvements for the courthouse.

In April, county council voted to issue a request for tenders for proposals for the sale of the courthouse. The county previously sold the Antigonish Correctional Facility, which is attached to the courthouse.

Since the council announced they are hanging on to the courthouse, McCarron said the feedback’s been positive.

“I talked to a number of residents after the decision was made and [they’re] quite pleased. They’re also very happy with the decision by the province to come to the table financially,” said McCarron. “We’re quite happy with that, and we’ll start to move shortly on some work and construction to make that a better looking facility.”

The county received one bid for the courthouse during the request for proposals. The cost to operate the courthouse in a bare-bones fashion was around $28,000 per year.

During the county’s deliberation period, they heard a presentation from the Antigonish Barristers Association. The association noted the courthouse is the only place in Antigonish capable of holding a jury trial. If the courthouse were to close, people would have to travel to Port Hawkesbury or Pictou for such a trial.

The courthouse was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1981.