Council reviews doctor incentive, property sales and land acknowledgement: Waterfront development society shares concerns over iconic buildings

·5 min read

GUYSBOROUGH – At the Municipality of the District of Guysborough’s (MODG’s) monthly committee of the whole meeting on June 1, the provincial recruitment incentive packages offered to doctors from outside of Nova Scotia, $125,000 for five years return of service, was brought to the table for discussion. CAO Barry Carroll asked if council wanted to revisit the MODG offer of $100,000 for doctors hired locally in light of the provincial offer.

Councillor Hudson MacLeod (District 7) said he thought the offer in the MODG should be revisited, while Councillor Dave Hanhams (District 4) pointed out that, if the provincial incentive covered locations across the province and not just MODG, withdrawing the $100,000 incentive from MODG would reduce the likelihood of doctor recruitment in the municipality.

In a unanimous vote, council decided more discussion on the topic was necessary.

Federal electoral boundaries

An investigation by staff into the federal electoral boundary review, as per a motion passed at the regular council meeting in May, was presented to council. The conclusion of staff was that, due to the constraints placed on ridings in terms of population within electoral boundaries, the MODG had to be grouped with portions of Cape Breton.

Council passed a motion stating that they would support the proposed changes but wanted to explore changing the name of the electoral district, which under the review would be changed to Antigonish-Cape Breton, to reflect the inclusion of Guysborough County. Councillor MacLeod was the sole member of council to vote against the motion.

MODG property sale

Next on the agenda was a request for purchase of municipal property in Guysborough. The small piece of land adjoins to a larger piece owned by a developer who has expressed interest in building a multi-unit residential development.

MODG Development Officer Deborah Torrey explained, “They are asking that we consider selling this particular piece of land directly to them…. This would make their proposal for their multi-unit residential much more feasible for things such as parking.”

Torrey went on to say that council was able to wave land purchase policy to sell directly to an individual or a developer when it was deemed to be in the best interest of the municipality. This proposed sale, she added, was in line with the MODG’s municipal planning strategy’s intention “to support and promote anything that has to do with housing development.”

Council voted in favour of waving policy to sell PID 35126408 (on Church St., Guysborough) to Caper Development for the appraised value and expenses involved in the sale of the land.

According to municipal policy, Torrey said, a stipulation would be included in the agreement that should the property not be developed within a five-year time frame, the property would be returned to the municipality for the same price paid by the developer.

Land acknowledgement

Council also discussed amending the land acknowledgment that is read at the beginning of every meeting in recognition that council is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kma’ki People, to also acknowledge the indigenous Blacks of Nova Scotia, whose legacy and contribution dates back more than 400 years.

CAO Carroll noted that the acknowledgement is entrenched in the proceedings of council bylaw and would require a bylaw change – and hence all the steps required for such a change; first reading, public meeting and second reading – to include the addition.

GWDS letter of concern

Council also discussed a letter of concern sent to them by the Guysborough Waterfront Development Society (GWDS) about the future of the iconic buildings on Main St., Guysborough that are for sale.

GWDS Chairperson Paul Long told The Journal in an email that, “The GWDS has an ongoing interest in the revitalization of the Main Street of Guysborough. Part of what would make us successful as a marina is to have an active Main Street that would encourage tourism traffic by land and water. Our letter of concern to MODG was simply to state that we would like for every effort to be made to encourage the sale of the buildings to an entity that would have an interest in tourism-related development.”

The Journal spoke to Warden Pitts about the buildings on Main St. after the committee of the whole meeting adjourned, positing that the consensus around the council table when the letter of concern was discussed was that the buildings held by Authentic Seacoast – owned by Glynn Williams – on Main St. are iconic, keystone features for tourism development in Guysborough. Pitts agreed, “Most certainly.”

However, Williams, founding president of the Guysborough District Business Partnership – an organization established by the MODG but operating as a separate entity, whose mandate is to advance tourism offerings – told The Journal in a recent interview that he has no plans of opening the buildings this summer. That situation provoked the letter of concern from the GWDS.

When asked for additional comment on the situation, Pitts said, “The individual we are speaking about is a private business[man]. They’re his buildings. He can do whatever he wants with them; he can demolish them tomorrow, if he so chooses. We can’t stop him from doing that provided he takes out the proper permits, we cannot refuse.

“MODG has no desire to purchase those buildings. We have no desire to maintain them and, hopefully, who is to say that down the road, Mr. Williams doesn’t have a potential investor on the hook to upgrade those buildings and open them and utilize them… he’s a businessman and he’s going to keep his cards very close to his chest,” said Pitts.

Pitts concluded his comments, stating, “Myself, as a resident of Lundy, even if I wasn’t on council, I don’t foresee those buildings being torn down.”

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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