The mayor of Antigonish says 2017 brought a new set of traffic lights to a busy intersection in the town.
Town councillors approved the money for the lights at West St. and Highland Dr. as part of their 2017-18 budget; the cost of the project was close to $120,000.
In a year-end interview with The Hawk, Laurie Boucher, Antigonish’s mayor, says the lights are much-needed at the high-traffic intersection.
“There (are) people waiting 20-30 minutes to get out of there sometimes- then you run into the fact people start taking chances, and then it becomes a safety concern,” she says. “The residents of that area have been asking for them for quite a while, so we made it a priority in this (2017-18) budget to make sure that they’re there.”
Boucher says the lights were originally supposed to be operational by late October, then late November, but there were delays they couldn’t control.
She says they’ll monitor the impact on traffic flow to determine the timing, and if there are traffic build-ups in other areas as a result.
Boucher says a major highlight of 2017 was the purchase of a new fire truck for the town’s volunteer fire department.
Town councillors voted in favour of buying the $600,000 pumper truck in January; they approved a 25-year plan to replace the department’s entire fleet in March.
Boucher tells The Hawk their new fire levy of 2.6 cents/$100 of assessment was one of their biggest accomplishments of the past year, considering the new truck was badly needed.
“Our trucks were 35 and 40 years old, hard to get parts for, hard to get a safety sticker for- it was well overdue,” she says. “The problem was how do we get the money to pay for it?”
Boucher says there wasn’t much push back to the new levy from residents.
She says everyone supports their local volunteer firefighters, and know they need the proper equipment.
Boucher says the past year was a learning experience.
2017 was her first full year as the town’s mayor, and also the first full year for new councillors Mary Farrell and Andrew Murray.
Boucher says they all had a chance to get used to their roles.
“One of the big surprises for me was how long it takes to get things done,” she says. “We passed our biggest capital budget- $1.2 million- so there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Boucher says it was also the first full year for Jeff Lawrence, the town’s chief administrative officer.
She says the past year has town officials feeling optimistic for 2018.
Boucher says town officials tried to shed more light on town business in 2017.
Councillors voted to proclaim the first-ever “Right to Know Week” in the town in September.
At the time, Boucher said the week wouldn’t really change much for them, as they already try to be as transparent as possible.
Boucher tells The Hawk it’s important to be open for residents.
“We’re here because of the people of Antigonish- we work for them, we’re stewards of their tax money,” she says. “In order to gain their trust, we have to be transparent, we have to let them know what’s going on, and more importantly, we have to listen to their voices.”
Boucher says they want to make sure they have the trust of their people, considering everything going on with different governments.