Ecum Secum residents to get Halifax 311 service

ST. MARY’S – Thanks to a quirk in municipal boundary lines, St. Mary’s residents of Ecum Secum may soon have access to Halifax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) service information at the touch of a button – or three.

Council for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has approved a request from HRM to enable the 3-1-1 telephone access code for the entire community of Ecum Secum, even though some residents technically live in St. Mary’s, which doesn’t offer the three-digit service. It’s complicated, St. Mary‘s Chief Administrative Officer Marissa Jordan told council’s committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 9.

“3-1-1 is a three-digit dial service that all HRM residents have access to which directs them to municipal information regarding…anything that you can think of regarding municipal services specific to HRM,” she said. “What has happened is, when Bell Aliant and other telecoms had put in the new 3-1-1 service, there were some codes that could not access it,” including rural exchanges in the Ecum Secum area which falls within the administrative jurisdictions of both HRM and Guysborough County.

According to a brief from HRM’s Acting Chief Administrative Officer Caroline Blair-Smith on Sept. 2, “The next step is to obtain agreement from the Municipality of St. Mary’s to route the exchanges allocated to the community of Ecum Secum to the HRM Customer Contact Center via the 3-1-1, 3-digit dial.”

But “when they code this information, it’s based on telephone exchanges, not on communities,” Jordan said. “In order to give 3-1-1 services to [HRM residents of Ecum Secum], they would have go over our municipal border and do it for all, and that would affect some of our constituents [there].”

She added that the additional service will not “cause any financial burden” to St. Mary’s. “It just means that some of [our] people will have access to 3-1-1 HRM public services. … If, for some reason, we decide to do 3-1-1, ourselves, we would have to re-do those [exchanges] in our municipality, but that would be a handful of people, and it would be years down the road.”

Ecum Secum residents in HRM can access their municipal administration by calling 1-800-835-6428. Saint Mary’s residents can call 1-877-388-0868.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal