A great deal can be accomplished through regional cooperation
TRURO - It is hard to believe that six months have passed since I submitted an article for this publication.
It has been a very busy six months for council and staff. Along with our regular operations, we continue to deal with a number of major issues and projects that most municipalities have not had to deal with.
One of those that council and staff dealt with, which was both an issue and a project, was the
Wind Turbine Development bylaw. After much research by staff, public consultations and hearings, council finally completed the new bylaw which we feel is a very fair regulation for both the developers and our residents. Wind energy projects can now go forward in Colchester County with stringent conditions and organized public consultation.
We at council are extremely pleased with our flood mitigation projects. Approval from the
federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans finally came through in mid-summer and our Public
Works crews (county and town) were ready to go to work and got an amazing amount done by the deadline of Sept. 30. For the first time in 50 years, we were able to have machines in the Salmon River to remove built up material in the river that has been contributing to flooding and ice conditions for many years. Some of the biggest problem areas have been addressed and there has been a lot of work done on improving and extending dikes on both sides of the river.
There is much more work to be done, but approvals are still in place to continue this work which will start again in the spring of 2014.
In addition to the work that has already been completed, a LiDAR mapping project has been finished. This provides information on the elevations for all of the North and Salmon river watershed areas. We have also contracted a reputable consulting firm to assess the mapping and offer advice on future flood mitigation projects in the rivers and brooks that feed into the North and Salmon rivers.
Our joint flood advisory committee, comprised of county, town and Millbrook First Nation representatives, has a working agreement with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture on the restoration and rebuilding of dikes. We have also started talks with CN who have expressed an interest in working with the committee on flood mitigation projects. As we have informed them, the CN rail line through Truro and Bible Hill is both a problem and can be part of the solution to flooding. This is a great accomplishment to have all of these parties involved. It is amazing what can be accomplished through regional cooperation.
In addition to the work of our joint committee, the county flood advisory committee has been able to complete a number of mitigation projects throughout the county. A major project for this committee was the excavation work on the brook in Murray Siding, which included a new culvert under Old Court House Branch Road, installed by Nova Scotia Transportation and
Infrastructure Renewal. This project was also approved by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans along with the cooperation of Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
We are pleased that our county is one of the few municipalities in the province that continues to show growth. At the end of October, a total of 441 building permits were issued for a total of $50,601,222 compared to $45,127,010 for the same period in 2012.
We are always mindful of those that are less fortunate. With that in mind, council has raised the income level and the amount of the exemption in updating our Low Income Tax Exemption Policy.
This will benefit many of our county residents and enable more people to stay in their own homes.
Our council is proud to have dealt with many contentious issues and continues to make progress.
We now look forward to many more challenges and projects for 2014. Some of these projects will include a new compost facility in Kemptown, a new sewer line in Onslow and a new library in Truro.
We are also planning a new direction in economic development for our area. We will have new staff in place and will be focusing on strengths we have in our area - our people, our resources, our educational institutions, our business community and our youth. We must adopt a â€˜can doâ€™ attitude to build a better economy.
At this time, on behalf of our county council and staff, we would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
Bob Taylor has served as mayor of the Municipality of Colchester since 2008.