Woodstock CAO updates council on active projects

As part of the CAO update during the Jan. 10 council meeting, Woodstock CAO Andrew Garnett outlined four significant town projects requiring council members’ attention early in their first term.

Garnett briefed council, especially new members, about ongoing projects they will inherit from the previous council. He said council members should familiarize themselves with continuing and potential funding and grant programs.

Garnett explained one of the ongoing projects includes a walking path or sidewalk along Deakin Drive. He said the town secured funding for 60 per cent of the project up to $141,000, meaning it would cover a $235,000 project.

He said that would not complete the project, but the town could reapply for funding support. Responding to a question from Coun. Williams, Garnett said the town still needs to determine a final plan.

Deputy Mayor Rogers noted the consensus appeared to favour a paved walking trail similar to the one along Connell Park Road.

Garnett also outlined the Town Square project, noting the town spent two years trying to secure a funding partner. He explained that the provincial Regional Development Commission (RDC) agreed to a 50-50 split last fall.

“Unfortunately, by the time the deal was in place, it was too late to begin the project,” Garnett said.

He explained the funding agreement expires in April before the weather will allow work to begin. However, Garnett added, RDC officials said the commission would reexamine the project.

To prepare for the project, previously estimated at $700,000, Garnett said the town might issue tenders from some materials early, advising council to expect to see such tenders seeking their approval this winter or spring.

Garnett also advised council that the town’s development and planning will undergo significant changes as Woodstock boundaries expand to take in surrounding local service districts.

He explained he recently met with Dillon Consultants, which works with the town’s development team.

“Everything now goes to Dillon,” Garnett explained about building permits and rezoning requests. He added that the town remains the point of contact for property owners.

The CAO said about a half dozen people from outside Ward 4, the former town of Woodstock, had already reached out about planned projects.

Garnett said zoning exists in the former LSDs, but the zoning terminology differs from Woodstock’s. He said the town would determine whether to maintain zoning descriptions or change them to coincide with the town.

Garnett also updated council about the potential for harness racing coming to Connell Park. He referred to ongoing news reports about the closure of race tracks in Saint John and Fredericton, and the possibility New Brunswick Harness Racing may direct some races to Woodstock.

“No one reached out to us,” Garnett said.

Garnett said he and Director of Tourism Tobi Pirie met with a couple of members of the Woodstock Driving Club about the issue. He said the club had unofficial conversations with provincial harness racing officials.

Garnett added that the town doesn’t presently have an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the driving club.

While the potential to host several events at the Connell Park Race Track exists, the CAO said all discussions are in their infancy.

“We haven’t even talked to Harness Racing New Brunswick,” he said. “We just started to talk.”

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun