Strait Area Ground Search and Rescue Association participated in a mock search in Monastery back in 2018.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Town council approved a recommendation from its committee-of-the-whole to provide funding to Strait Area Ground Search and Rescue (SAGSR).

During the regular monthly meeting on Jan. 5, Port Hawkesbury Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Terry Doyle told council that staff prepared information on how much each municipality covered by SAGSR contributes.

“We do know that the Town of Antigonish have made their donation, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, the district of Guysborough, the County of Richmond, have all made their donations,” Doyle confirmed. “They all have given the same amount they had given last year.”

Council approved a motion to donate $1,200 to the local search and rescue organization.

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Deputy Mayor Blaine MacQuarrie inquired about the status of meetings with staff to review the town’s application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).

The CAO said they will be setting meeting dates in the next two weeks.

“Council wanted to look at the application in detail, and sort out the preliminary design on where we want to go and how this moves forward,” Doyle explained.

MacQuarrie agreed to a suggestion from mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton that once council has had the opportunity to take a deep dive into the application, there will be time set aside for the public to provide their input.

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The town agreed to a request from the Cape Breton Partnership (CBP).

The CBP is encouraging people to “Shop, Stay and Eat Local” in 2021 and council was unanimous in proclaiming Jan. 19 as Shop Local Day.

“The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has affected the commercial sector world-wide, including locally in Port Hawkesbury to a point where long-term effects are yet to be understood,” the mayor said reading the proclamation. “A number of local businesses have experienced challenges this year and supporting local businesses in our area is key to making opportunities out of these challenges… Every dollar we spend locally in 2021 will have a positive ripple effect on our economy for years to come.”

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Town council agreed to send a letter in support of the J.A. Douglas MacCurdy Airport in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Because their advocacy was expected by Jan. 11, council unanimously agreed to a recommendation from Chisholm-Beaton to send the letter the next day.

She said it is the “primary” airport for commercial air access and Air Canada pulling out will be a blow to Cape Breton.

“Having commercial air access to Cape Breton Island is hugely important,” the mayor said. “Having that contract end Jan. 11 I think is going to have a hugely detrimental impact on our island overall. And that’s going to impact multiple industries and our economy.”

The mayor hopes advocacy from political leaders and other stakeholders might force federal officials to lend their support.

“We are on the world stage, for example, in terms of tourism but it would be a huge missed opportunity for our island if we were only able to welcome people by road and by sea, and not by air,” the mayor remarked.

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Council received an update on rezoning one part of the town.

Doyle said council met in the fall to review the situation, “with the idea of considering creating more open park land in the Elm Court area.”

Part of that process was to ask Eastern District Planning Commission director John Bain to prepare a report on the possble impacts from rezoning the area, Doyle said noting that the report will then be forwarded to the town’s planning advisory committee for review and recommendation.

The town is now awaiting the report, and is in the process of recommending names for the planning advisory, and other town committees.

“We’ve seen great response for some committees but not all so we’re just in the process of finalizing those committees now and we’ll have recommendations going to council at committee-of-the-whole,” he said.

Once the committee has their say on the report and their recommendation goes to council, then first reading of a change to the land use by-law and planning strategy will take place, followed by a public consultation, then it will proceed to second reading.

In the meantime, the properties, which fall between lots 141 and 149, have been taken off the market, the CAO explained.

“There’s no danger of development in the properties that we’re considering for rezoning,” Doyle stated.

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MacQuarrie had a motion passed to create a memorial plaque of past employees to go in the atrium of the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.

The plaques would indicate the employee’s names, years of service, position, and year of death. He requested staff bring suggestions for a plaque to the committee-of-the-whole meeting in February.

The deputy mayor said he was approached by Joe Praught to bring the idea to council.

“He had expressed that it would be a nice gesture to recognize employees who worked for the Town of Port Hawkesbury over the years, and I agree with him 100 per cent,” MacQuarrie told council.

“It was a great idea that Joe put forward,” the mayor said in agreement.

Town councillor Jason Aucoin asked whether part-time employees, and those hired through grants would also be included.

“I don’t want to have anybody missed, I guess that’s my concern,” he said. MacQuarrie agreed to the mayor’s suggestion to have staff flesh out the idea and bring it to next month’s committee-of-the-whole meeting.