The warden of Antigonish Co. says 2017 was a good and fairly active year for the municipality, but it was emotional as well.
Russell Boucher, the municipality’s former warden, passed away suddenly in May.
Boucher was first elected to represent District 9 (Linwood-Havre Boucher-Aulds Cove) on municipal council in 1985; he became warden in 2012.
Owen McCarron, the councillor for District 6, was acclaimed warden in June.
In a year-end interview with The Hawk, McCarron says Boucher is still missed.
“People that knew Russell just knew him as such an outgoing, friendly guy- he was a guy that listened, he put the total community ahead of his own personal wants or likes,” he says. “That’s what made Russell unique- he could reach out to everybody, it didn’t matter what walk of life.”
McCarron says the transition into the warden’s chair was made easier by his time as deputy warden and a strong team of councillors.
Neil Corbett won August’s special election for Boucher’s former District 9 seat.
McCarron says their residential assessment grew in 2017.
He says that was positive, considering officials in other municipalities saw no change, or even declines.
McCarron tells The Hawk construction was pretty brisk.
“We had about $24 million in construction valued through the year- institutional development (in) the Mount Cameron area was strong, obviously, with two big facilities being built there,” he says. “There was a good mix of construction throughout the county.”
McCarron says they’re also encouraged by new commercial development at Nova Landing along Hwy. 104.
He says they’re proud to maintain some of the lowest residential and commercial tax rates in the province in an attempt to encourage more business opportunities.
McCarron says a new highway interchange project at the Paq’tnkek First Nation will be huge for Paq’tnkek and the entire municipality.
Paq’tnkek residents voted 96 per cent in favour of the $15.3 million project in July; work started in September.
Officials with the provincial government announced $8.9 million in funding in October; federal officials are covering the remaining $6.4 million.
McCarron says the project is big for everyone involved.
“We see the opportunities of partnership between our community and Paq’tnkek as huge,” he says. “As we go forward, we look at (a lot) of opportunities, and I know they have a lot of things planned for the interchange- it’s a game-changer for sure.”
Officials have said new residential and commercial development is expected along Hwy. 104 in Afton as a result of the interchange.
They’ve said work is expected to be done by late 2018 or early 2019.