UPPER ONSLOW, N.S. – Business owners on Hub Centre Drive are becoming increasingly frustrated over dealing with potholes and dust in the unpaved industrial park.
“We’ve all had enough,” said Trina Langille, co-owner of Warmth by Design. “We’re sick of hearing complaints. We’re sick of our buildings having to be pressure-washed … the filters in our air-filtration systems are clogging up with red mud, customers complain about pot holes.”
Laken MacLean, assistant manager of North East Truck and Trailer, agreed.
“It wears on company vehicles, it wears on customers, it prevents people from wanting to come up here,” she said.
Under Colchester County regulations, when it comes to commercial developments and new residential subdivisions created within a sewer-serviced area, it is the responsibility of the developer to ensure the roads are paved.
In this case, however, development of the Hub Centre park occurred before the municipal sewer project was completed in the area.
Although the road is owned by the county, council has a policy of conducting petitions that require a 66-per-cent favourable vote in cases where paving is requested.
Municipal staff have conducted three petitions so far but have not been able to meet the 66-per-cent requirement.
The latest cost figure for paving the road is $140,000, which is $8,750 for each of the 16 property owners on Hub Centre Drive.
Not all the properties have been developed, however, and of the 16 owners, only nine said they were in favour of paying to have the road paved.
“We’ve been around this thing so many times now it isn’t funny,” Deputy Mayor Bill Masters said, during council discussion. “These are businesses that could have in front of them, for $8,750 each, pavement. I can’t pave my driveway for that. So I guess I don’t have a whole heck of a lot of sympathy or concern.”
A staff report to council states the municipality spends approximately $2,500 annually providing grading and dust control for Hub Centre Drive. And, last winter, additional gravel was added to the road at a cost of $12,000.
Langille and MacLean said from their perspective, that money and future annual costs would be better used as a contribution toward overall paving costs to make up for the property owners who aren’t in favour.
“We’re already being taxed. How is that right?” said Langille, who added the constant dust interferes with events she hosts at her business. It also prevents her from putting merchandise outside for display, she said.
Under the Nova Scotia Municipal Government Act, council could arbitrarily pave the road and add the cost to each property owner’s tax bill without conducting a petition.
But while council generally expressed support that the road should be paved, councillors showed no appetite for forcing the issue.
“So obviously we’ve got some people there who don’t think it’s that important,” Masters said. “And if it isn’t for them, I don’t think we as a municipality should be jumping in the middle of it and say, regardless of what you say, we’re going to go do this anyway. That’s just my opinion.”