GUYSBOROUGH – To say that this year has been like no other in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) would be an understatement.
Of course, there was the COVID-19 pandemic that changed life for everyone but there were other changes too, most notably the move to a four-day work week for MODG staff. The pilot project, which is currently being evaluated by a consultant, caught the eye of global media outlets; the MODG became a role model for the new work-life balance everyone has been striving to attain.
While COVID was always top of mind, important projects continued to get off the ground and running in the municipality: bridges were built, the Guysborough and Area Food Bank got a new, permanent home; a new compost facility was constructed at the Guysborough County Waste Management Facility; the sale of Canso Electric Utility to Nova Scotia Power Inc. was finalized; and MODG recreation programs climbed back from the strict pandemic restrictions of March, to offer many outdoor and small events over the summer and into the fall.
And if that wasn’t enough to accomplish during a very difficult year, the MODG – along with all municipalities across the province – also held a successful election. Council saw two new members come to the table; Paul Long, District 1 and Mary Desmond, District 2. Five out of seven seats were contested, proving democracy could proceed at strength despite the pandemic.
Looking back on the year, MODG Warden Vernon Pitts commented, “It has been a very difficult year for everyone; however, I am very proud of the great work by our residents and residents across the entire province in keeping themselves, their families and their communities safe.”
While there is much to laud, Pitts stated, “I would be remiss if I didn’t … recognize the ending of an era with the Sable Offshore Energy Project. As residents would be aware, the Goldboro Gas Plant and its associated facilities have been fully decommissioned. The Sable Project has been transformational to our municipality. On behalf of council, I want to thank our Sable partners, led by ExxonMobil and Shell, for their long-term commitment to our communities.”
The economic impact of the Sable project, Pitts stated, has “enabled the municipality to offer a high level of service to residents while maintaining the lowest residential tax burden in Nova Scotia.”
The decommissioning of Sable’s offshore platforms also brought lots of activity to Chedabucto Bay, particularly noticeable was the presence of the Thialf- a semi-submersible crane vessel that supported the final phase of decommissioning of the Sable Offshore Energy Project. The vessel could be seen in the bay throughout the summer and fall; an attraction for many recreational watercraft.
While the end of the Sable project has resulted in small increases in MODG tax rates to make up for lost revenue, Pitts sees reason for hope in the continued development of a number of major projects in the area: Goldboro LNG, Anaconda Mining, Maritime Launch Services, Black Point Aggregate, Pirate Harbour Windfarm and the Melford Atlantic Gateway.
“The next calendar year will be exciting as many of these developments reach major decision milestones. In addition, in the past year we have also witnessed significant local commercial and residential investment,” stated Pitts, in recognition of the real estate boom that has spread across rural Nova Scotia during the pandemic.
He added, “Work continues at the Goldboro LNG Facility … on engineering and planning core site preparation projects such as a new, permanent road; large scale work camp; terracing of the site; and construction for the wharf and jetty for the LNG carriers.”
While COVID has affect the global LNG industry, Pieridae Energy Ltd, the company behind the Goldboro LNG project, stated it hadn’t affected the project in Guysborough County. The deadline for the final investment decision for Goldboro LNG is slated for June 30, 2021.
As we look to 2021 with hope, in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine, Pitts went on to enumerate highlights from the year including approval of 12 projects under the municipal Green Fund, the beginning of a community enhancement program for Canso, the commitment to build a new Salsman Marina Park facility, and the completion and monitoring of a gas collection system at the municipal waste management facility.
Pitts concluded his year-end reflections by thanking residents for their support and feedback over the year; urging all to “continue to keep yourselves and your families safe.”
Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal