Richmond decides to remain part of planning commission

Eastern District Planning Commission director John Bain appeared before Richmond Municipal Council last October.

ARICHAT: After filing a notice of intent to leave the Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC), council has decided to remain put for the time being.

During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council tonight in Arichat, council accepted the recommendation of its committee-of-the-whole to continue the municipality’s relationship with the EDPC, “based on the fact it would cost significantly more money to the municipality to undertake the setup and operation of our own planning department,” according to the motion read by deputy warden Alvin Martell.

Richmond Warden Brian Marchand explained the difference in cost was in the vicinity of $200,000.

“Staff analyzed starting a planning department and we looked at the cost, the costs were a bit too high so we decided to stay within the EDPC,” Marchand said.

Under its memorandum of understanding between the planning commission and its member municipalities, the warden said a one-year notice period is required before officially leaving.

During the regular monthly meeting last March, district 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher, Martell and  Marchand voted in favour of motions to give one-year notices to the EDPC, as well as the Cape Breton Regional Enterprise Network (CBREN), while councillors Jason MacLean and James Goyetche voted against both motions.

Marchand introduced the motion to leave the both bodies because of the “loss of revenue due to some assessment loss” and other increased costs.

But before making a final decision, Goyetche was able to get council approval to have municipal staff to conduct an analysis of the costs of staying with the EDPC versus doing their own work. He told council that other municipalities joined the planning commission because they determined they didn’t have the resources to go it alone.

MacLean noted at the time that the EDPC is formed from inter-municipal agreements signed by all municipal partners and “there’s a level of service that’s expected by our residents.”

Following tonight’s session, Martell explained that last March the municipality was close to the deadline for filing the notices and they were under the gun to make a decision at that time.  

“When we made the decision way back when to give our notice, it was because of the fact that we were experiencing a big deficit of $800,000 and we were looking for places where we could save and I think that the EDPC, along with the REN were two things where we had a time crunch to give our notice in order to be able to analyze and see if there was cost associated to offset the cost of our deficit,” Martell explained. “Having said that, we did the analysis and the analysis said that, as you heard tonight, it would cost more to do it ourselves so there was no cost-savings.”