The new Zamboni for the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre arena arrived on Jan. 5.

PORT HAWKESBURY: The town’s mayor and Chief Administrative Officer reviewed some of the projects they undertook last year.

CAO Terry Doyle told the regular monthly meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council on Jan. 17 that food bank volunteers are grateful for the progress on their new building.

“It’s going to make a big change on Granville Street. We’ve had a lot of compliments on that building. That’s moving forward, there’s been some material delay but that’s really coming along,” he reported.

Doyle said the delays include a production issue with the manufacturer to complete the exterior siding; geo tech work was carried out Dec. 16 with initial results expected soon; the walk-in cooler and freezer have been installed and the final work expected to finish last week; and interior renovations started Jan. 15.

The electric vehicle charging units are installed and functional, and final operating details are scheduled to be complete before the end of the month, the CAO said.

After noting that the new Zamboni for the arena arrived on Jan. 5, Doyle said the flyer from the marketing, recreation and tourism department is “very busy.”

“There’s just tonnes of stuff happening here,” he said. “We’re very proud to be able to offer the amount and quality of programming that we do.”

The CAO said there was an impressive turn-out for the town’s First Night celebration, from all around the Strait area.

“It’s just such a class event; great for kids, great for grandparents, great for everything,” he said. “Wonderful to see the community come together at the fire hall for fireworks.”

Town Councillor Jason Aucoin said there were many positive comments at the celebration.

“I was there for it and to hear people from Antigonish, Port Hood, Mabou, even Isle Madame say they wish they had this in their community, the town really deserves a pat on the back for what we put on there,” he said. “There were people from all over the place, and they were more than pleased with what was here.”

The shared information technology project with other local municipalities has been a “real success story,” according to Doyle.

“Unbelievable increase in service level since we’ve gotten into this partnership,” he said.

As far as the public works department, Doyle said they are repairing water mane breaks and doing other important work, “usually in very adverse conditions.”

“We got our lighting up and running; that was an issue for little awhile. It’s not fun working in the dark,” he said.

Doyle said public works also purchased a 2022 Ford F550 truck with a landscape dump body, a snow plow, and a spreader.

In her review of 2022, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said one of the town’s priorities; active transportation and recreation, received help from town advisory committees.

“I’m really proud to have a three year municipal accessibility document that we can follow along with, and also really proud of all the accessibility work that we’ve been able to achieve in 2022,” she said. “I think it’s significant.”

In terms of housing, the mayor said the community consultation with New Dawn Enterprises and the work the town is doing with the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce will both make a difference.

“We’re going to come out with a really powerful document that will help lead the charge in terms of the town can do, to move the needle on housing,” she noted. “And also, hopefully, looking at the establishment of a not-for-profit arm that can also meet some of the needs.”

Although they will be taking a phased approach, Chisholm-Beaton said waterfront development has been exciting.

Some of the successes from 2022 included the accessible boardwalk at the waterfront and progress on the new park, the mayor said.

Noting that the bulk of health care recruitment and retention is done in collaboration with the Municipality of the County of Richmond under the Cape Breton South Recruiting for Health Committee, Chisholm-Beaton said wonderful progress had been made.

“It’s really a wonderful example of regional collaboration,” she noted. “The readily visible benefit directly to the Town of Port Hawkesbury, for example a new physician will be starting at the Port Hawkesbury Collaboration Clinic, the tentative start date will be April, 2023.”

On the retention said, the mayor said they continue to receive positive comments from health care professionals on the Community of Care Awards, which makes them feel appreciated for all their hard work.

The town will combine the Economic Development Advisory Committee with the Housing Advisory Committee, Chisholm-Beaton stated.

“So that we have a hyper-focused push towards promoting the town from a health development perspective,” she said. “We see that there’s been wonderful momentum with the economic development group to really dig into the opportunities around offshore wind and green hydrogen. And really that ball has been punted over to our new Strait of Canso Offshore Wind Task Force.”

The other key milestones surround upgrades to streets and sidewalks, as well as repairs to streetlights, the mayor noted.

“Citizens want to see that kind of work done on a meaningful basis,” she stated.

The mayor said the fire at the public works was an item of bad news but they hope to make progress on a new facility.

“Our public works crew are certainly managing exceedingly well considering the duress of no longer having a place to do their work,” she added. “Certainly in 2023 we’re going to be working towards a new public works facility.”