St. Mary’s says ‘no’ to $92,500 provincial paving proposal

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ST. MARY’S – Council for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has voted against spending more than $92,500 to pave a quarter-kilometre stretch of road near Sherbrooke, citing cost as the overriding reason.

The decision followed a recent memorandum from the Department of Public Works indicating that the provincially owned J-Class road, Bennet Loop, qualified for a cost-shared agreement that would split the $185,000 price tag with St. Mary’s.

But, said Warden Greg Wier at the May 2 committee of the whole meeting, “I do know that three years ago, before most of us were here, [that project] was offered for half that [amount]. It’s a lot of money.”

Added Deputy Warden James Fuller: “I’m thinking that the staff worked really hard this year to come up with a balanced budget this year. I just can’t see tossing this $90,000 after we set a budget.”

Last month, the municipality unexpectedly received more than $300,000 from the provincial government to support sustainable infrastructure projects. Wier wondered whether some of that money could be used. Chief Administrative Officer Marissa Jordan confirmed, “It would not fit within that funding.”

The municipality had included Bennet Loop among two other local J-class routes — Cameron Road and Restoration Drive — in a recent proposal under the cost-sharing program. But, according to the provincial memorandum, neither of those qualified “due to the program limit.” Jordan explained that meant, “It usually has to do with money.”

Wier suggested that had the work on Cameron Road been approved, the cost of Bennet Loop might have been justifiable. As it was, Fuller added, “It’s just not good fiscal policy.”

Council agreed to submit for the Cameron Road work next fiscal year.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal