TRURO - Developing a flood mitigation plan will be a top-of-the-agenda item for Colchester County heading into 2013, Mayor Bob Taylor says.
"Flood mitigation, that's going to be one of our priorities," Taylor said, during a chat about last year's municipal accomplishment and looking ahead at this year's wish list.
If there was anything positive that came out of last September's devastating floods that resulted in millions of dollars of damage to local residences and businesses, Taylor said it is the fact that the area's flood-prone zones have finally captured the attention of all levels of government.
"Of course the good thing of it is, we now have everybody's attention, that we're moving ahead," he said. "I'm real positive about (finding a solution)."
One key to that, Taylor believes, is acquiring permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to dredge out the gravel bars that have been up over the past decades and which contribute to the flooding problem.
"I think the big thing for us is to get into the rivers first and getting some of the built up material ... out of there," he said.
"We've got the studies, we've got the knowledge here now that we can move ahead."
Other big initiatives for the year include moving ahead with selecting a site for a new library and actually getting construction started this year.
To that end, Taylor said he believes a memorandum of understanding between the county and the town of Truro is close to being finalized. And while some existing buildings have been suggested as potential sites, Taylor said he now believes that is not the way to proceed.
"I was quite a supporter of the old Normal College, but I'm leaning more now, and this is our committee talking too, probably leaning more towards a new facility in that immediate area there where the library is now."
Completion of the central wastewater treatment plant and construction of a new $3-million compost facility are on this year's agenda, he said. And, come budget time, the municipality will be also be looking seriously at expanding the sewer capacity though the Onslow area.
Looking back over last year, Taylor said he is pleased to announce that 10-year contracts were recently signed with the municipalities of Pictou, Antigonish, Guysborough, St. Mary's, Windsor and the Town of Antigonish to receive their recyclables at the Material Recycling Facility in Kemptown.
"It's like a business for us," he said. "With a 10-year contract we can make that viable for a number of years now."
Waste diversion last year was also "big," Taylor said, especially in light of the county's conversion to clear-bag garbage collection.
The program officially went into effect last January, and as of August, recycling had increased by 15 per cent, organic collection by 24 per cent while garbage volumes decreased by 24 per cent.
And while the county did not set any records with building permits in 2012, Taylor said things certainly could have been worse, given the overall economic climate.
"It wasn't a banner year, but I think we held our own pretty good this year again, which is good, with the times," he said. "So I think the population is growing, which is a good sign."
To that end, last year's construction permit values (to the end of November) totalled $36.9 million, which was down by $4.8 million from the previous year. The total number of permits was 488 compared to 507 for the same period in 2011.