Municipality refutes claims by Inverness MLA

Approximately 250 people attended a protest last August at the Inverness Miner's Museum protesting the condition of the community's treatment plant.

PORT HOOD: The municipality has denied claims by the MLA for Inverness that it is standing in the way of a project in Inverness.

On September 10, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster issued a press release stating that a housing project that would have seen over 80 new units built in Inverness was “lost” because the Municipality of the County of Inverness “was unable to provide a clear answer on when they can provide water and sewer access.”

“So many people have called our office over the last number of years wanting to live in the community of Inverness,” MacMaster said. “This project would have given many a place to live in a community that wants to grow.”

MacMaster said Dunmore Development Ltd. began discussions with the municipality in December 2018, “but has become frustrated with the lack of response.”

The Progressive Conservative MLA said applications for federal funding could not be made because of the lack of information about the municipal water and sewer infrastructure needed to complete the project.

“How many times have we heard about the need for affordable housing?” asked MacMaster. “Here was a chance to create some with a developer ready to make the investment.”

The MLA said he has approached the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing “to try to help keep the project alive.”

“He can only do so much,” said MacMaster. “I know he has sent his staff to explain how the municipality can apply for money to complete water and sewer projects. If they do not apply, there is no way for the federal or provincial governments to give them money.”

MacMaster said the state of water and sewer in Inverness County was the “single biggest issue raised” during the 2017 provincial election, and he raised it with the municipal council after being re-elected.

“Since then we have had protests over the smell of the sewage treatment plant last summer, and people continue to suffer with water they say is bad,” he noted. “Now the community has lost a significant housing project.”

Inverness Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Keith MacDonald told The Reporter the project is still very much alive as municipal staff are finalizing costs for water and sewer installation, as well as road upgrades in that part of Inverness.

The CAO explained that the proposed development is in an unserviced portion of Inverness.

“There’s no existing municipal water and sewer to that property,” MacDonald noted. “Municipal staff has been working diligently to put together costs associated with bringing water and sewer adjacent to that property. Those costs are going to be finalized very soon and presented to council in the very near future.”

Another factor is that a section of road in Veteran’s Memorial Court – to which the development is to be connected – has to be upgraded to allow for a sub-division, MacDonald said, noting those costs will also be presented to council.

“Then it’ll be up to council to determine ways to potentially pay for the cost to bring servicing to that particular property and other potential adjacent developments in and around the Veteran’s Memorial Court area of Inverness,” the CAO stated.

To increase the capacity of water and sewer services to the community, MacDonald said the municipality is working on “a number of fronts.”

“Currently the municipality is working on exploring other water sources for the community in order to support current and future growth that’s predicted,” the CAO said. “As well we’re doing a full assessment of our sewage treatment plants and distribution system in order to put plans in place so that treatment processes can be put in place to deal with forecasted growth in and around the community.”

The CAO also responded that the municipality has met with Dunmore Developments “on a number of occasions” and will continue to meet with them, as well as the MLA.

“Dunmore Developments did invite the MLA to this most recent meeting in order to be appraised of the project,” the CAO noted. “The municipality is willing to meet with the MLA to provide more detailed information; in terms of the work the municipality has underway to cost-out any new water and sewer service work.”