St. Mary’s eyes new federal building fund

·2 min read

ST. MARY’S – The Municipality of District of St. Mary’s is wasting no time exploring its spending options following news of a top up to federal infrastructure funding for Nova Scotia communities this year.

“I’m actually going to be talking to ACOA [Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency] to get more details,” says Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald, referring to discussions he has scheduled with the federal money-granting agency about a new round of the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF), unveiled last week.

Given the number of economic development priorities St. Mary’s is likely to face, as it completes its first municipal planning strategy and land-use bylaw in 15 years, “We are definitely interested,” he added.

Nova Scotia will receive $55 million through the CCBF (formerly, the Gas Tax Fund) to help municipalities in the province carry out infrastructure projects that support the well-being of their residents, Municipal Affairs Minister Brendan Maguire announced July 16.

"Modern, reliable infrastructure is important to help ensure our communities are vibrant and healthy,” he said in a news release. “This funding will allow municipalities to invest in public infrastructure that addresses local priorities. The last 18 months have been hard on Nova Scotia's economy.”

In March, the province received $58 million from the program to cover projects from energy systems and solid waste to recreational centres and fire hall infrastructure to help municipalities kick-start projects that contribute to economic growth and job creation.

MacDonald said St. Mary’s council is “looking into the kind of projects” that might qualify under the new funding, though, he added, “We haven’t had that discussion yet.”

Meanwhile, local elected reps are mulling over a staff recommendation to use part of the municipality’s gas tax windfall this year to complete the third and final phase of Sherbrooke’s streetscapes and beautification program.

The proposal suggests spending $50,000 of the estimated $277,540 the municipality has already received from the CCBF this year – combined with a $25,000 provincial grant – to cover the project’s estimated $75,000 price tag.

Council has deferred its decision until early September, after its summer recess.

According to Government of Canada records, St. Mary’s has received $9.1 million ($1.5 million from the former Gas Tax Fund) in funding for eligible Infrastructure Canada “projects and programs” since 2002, including money for “outdoor learning spaces” and highway upgrades near Sherbrooke. During that same period, Sheet Harbour has received $1.1 million for “highways and roads” and “facility upgrades” to Harbourview Lodge ($161,620).

MacDonald, who retires as St. Mary’s CAO in August, said he planned to meet with ACOA officials this week.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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