LITTLE BROOK, N.S. – Ronnie LeBlanc, warden for the Municipality of the District of Clare, says he’s feeling “really, really good” about his municipality’s progress in 2017 and its continued prospects for 2018.
LeBlanc spoke with genuine pride of some of Clare’s significant achievements in 2017:
1. The municipality took over the ownership of the Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse and property in January of 2017 and has split the costs with the federal government to renovate the structure and build enhancements for a new park. So far they have : repainted the tower; replaced the roof; replaced the vinyl siding with cedar shingles; replaced the fencing; created a gravel parking lot that can accommodate 30 vehicles; installed a viewing scope; added a welcome sign and accessible picnic shelter; and installed a webcam available to view at: https://www.novascotiawebcams.come/en/webcams/cape-saint-mary/
2. The municipality hosted what has become Atlantic Canada’s largest cycling event, the hugely successful, third annual Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie on September 24. The event attracted 956 registrations, 200 of those from out-of-province, and 917 cyclists ended up participating in this year’s event, up from 831 last year.
3. Infrastructure projects included renovations at the Veteran’s Centre and upgrades to the Church Point Sewer Treatment Plant that involved the installation of a UV system at the Church Point dewatering plant and replacement of the control panels at three life stations in Meteghan with a total project cost of $198,628.
4. The purchase of the former Blue Whale Café in St. Bernard with the intention of repurposing the building as a new community centre and firehall. LeBlanc said this project is a priority for the municipality.
5. The completion of renovations and the creation of shared office space in Clare’s new Culture Hub located at 795 Hwy. 1 in Comeauville. The hub is located in a former schoolhouse that was renovated with funds shared by the municipality and the Government of Canada. The hub provides affordable office space to a wide range of businesses and cultural organizations, including: le Festival acadien de Clare; Fédération régionale des arts et du patrimoine de la Baie Sainte-Marie; the Association des Acadiens Métis-Souriquois; Le Courrier; La FRAP; La Société acadienne de Clare; Transport de Clare; CIFA 104.1 FM; and EMO (Clare Emergency Management Organization).
Looking forward to 2018, LeBlanc said the municipality will celebrate its 250th anniversary as a settlement with many activities being planned throughout the year and more details on those to come soon.
1. In 2018, work will continue to complete the Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park, with the installation of interpretive panels explaining the founding of the village, history of the lighthouse, the local marine ecology and even information about the fog. But the centrepiece of the park will be a monument commemorating those lost to the sea in the Municipality of Clare. Local sculptor Mark Graff has been commissioned to carve the sculpture of a fisherman that will sit on top of the monument. Once in place, the park will offer a quiet, yet powerful place for reflection overlooking the panornamic vistas of the Cape. The official opening of the park and unveiling of the monument will take place in the spring of 2018.
2. The continued development of the firehall and community centre in St. Bernard. Currently, specifications for the electrical, plumbing and heating have been completed and a tender should be issued early in 2018 for work to begin. While LeBlanc said the municipality is still seeking funding for the project, they are committed to completing this project, even if it means they have to provide 100 per cent of the funding.
3. On LeBlanc’s wish list for 2018 is the exploration of fibre optic Internet services for the municipality and he said the council will be looking at the project in Annapolis County to see if they can follow their model. “The reality is, we need immigration in Clare,” LeBlanc said, “and without high speed Internet, that’s just not going to happen.” LeBlanc said he’s spoken with local real estate agents regarding this subject. “They’ve all told me that 10 years ago, purchasers used to ask about schools and doctors and hospitals and now the first question is ‘Does the area have high speed Internet?’ So we’re recognizing the importance of this issue to the growth of our municipality.”
4. LeBlanc was also clear about an issue the municipality is facing in 2018, an ongoing review of the number of councillors sitting on Clare council. “Every municipality must undergo these reviews every eight years, and we did one in 2015, but because of a complaint issued to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) by the Clare Civic Association, we’ve been asked once again to look at the number of councillors and the boundaries of each district. We’ve hired Stantec, a consulting firm, to help with that process and we must file the papers with the UARB before the end of February.”
Even with the outstanding review, LeBlanc is firm in his positive outlook for Clare.
“I feel great about where the municipality is right now. We have a strong community, a strong council and we have very strong support from our community,” LeBlanc said. “If you look at everything we’ve done, we’re in really great shape. We’ve been able to hold our tax rate, build a strong surplus, and we now have enough operating dollars to work on some of the projects we want to work on. That’s all good news.”