PORT HAWKESBURY: The town offered its support for two projects looking for funding from the provincial government.
During the regular monthly meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council on Feb. 2, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Terry Doyle said the Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC) is asking that the town back its proposal for funding under the Regulatory Modernization Pilot Project from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing to hire, on a term basis, someone to complete a municipal planning document.
Doyle said the Office of Regulatory Affairs has been working on a project which found unnecessary discrepancies in planning by-laws between Cape Breton municipalities, and this is something the EDPC is required to address.
“There’s added requirements to create planning by-laws and zoning throughout our province,” Doyle explained. “This work will help us standardize that.”
For the EDPC’s plan to proceed, the department requires the approval of its member municipalities, which town council provided.
“We have a program now that’s available, through municipal affairs to support this very worthwhile planning work that will help, not only the Town of Port Hawkesbury, but all of the members of EDPC,” the CAO said. “In order for that to go forward, municipal affairs has asked for a motion from council to that effect.”
The next project seeking support was an initiative to get municipalities sharing information technology services.
The town’s director of finance, Erin MacEachen, told the virtual meeting that the town is working with the District of St. Mary’s, the counties of Victoria, Inverness and Antigonish, and the Town of Antigonish on a joint IT project.
“We’re all in need of improved IT services, and none of us have any IT personnel on staff,” MacEachen explained.
The towns hired a consultant last year who reviewed the inventories and networks, as well as the unique needs of all municipalities, and they came up with a preliminary framework to start sharing, MacEachen said.
“We’re looking to apply for funding through that program (Municipal Innovation Program), as well to help move that project to the next stage,” she told council.
The group is looking for detailed estimates and a more detailed operational plan, something MacEachen said is not a big cost.
“We need a more solid operational plan and how we move forward operationally with a shared IT service,” she explained. “We have consulting funds in place now; it would be a very small amount from each municipality. But we’re looking to set our costs.”
In response to a question from deputy warden Blaine MacQuarrie, MacEachen confirmed that approval for 95 per cent funding from the province depends on the number of municipal partners.
“I think we’re ready to roll, we already have the major plan in place to move forward, we’re just looking for those operational details,” she responded.
After council voiced its support, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton added the project is a “wonderful” example of municipalities working together.
“It’s very much in-line with the vision and the principles behind One Nova Scotia, and how all municipalities need to figure out how to work together,” she added.