Pugwash master plan, energy strategy top priorities for warden in 2012

Andrew Wagstaff
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Hunter to re-offer for seventh term on county council

Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter is looking to continue working on priorities such as the Pugwash Master Plan and the inter-municipal energy committee in 2012.

AMHERST - Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter was so pleased with the past year, that's looking for more of the same in 2012.

In fact, Hunter hopes to stick around for another four years, as he confirmed in a Jan. 5 interview that he plans to re-offer for county council in the upcoming fall municipal election.

In a year-end chat with The Citizen-Record, the warden said the county was successful in 2011 by focusing on fewer items but getting more achieved.

"Development of the windmills was probably one of the big ones," said Hunter. "In concert with that would be the formation of the energy committee with Springhill and Parrsboro. That's not just windmills, it's tidal power, geothermal, wind, solar power, biomass... it's the whole works we're trying to work on, anything that's green energy."

The three municipal units are set to seal their partnership with an inter-municipal agreement expected to be signed sometime in January.

Municipal co-operation is the only way to go when dealing with the energy sector, according to the warden.

"It has to be done that way, especially when you're talking about geothermal," he said. "Part of the resource is in the county and part of it is in Springhill, and it's just in the perfect spot to form a geothermal or green industrial park, which is what we plan to do in the future."

Through that process, there will have to be an arrangement made to share municipal taxes on those properties, according to Hunter, who said the municipalities are already sharing costs through a formula that figures in population and assessment.

The county has also taken a lead role in developing the Pugwash Master Plan, a document and strategy aimed at developing priorities such as infrastructure, communication and collaboration, and tourism for the community. Hunter sits on the plan's infrastructure committee, and said a proposal would be presented to council on Jan. 18 to seek funding for a study on providing water service to the area. The matter would then be taken to the public for discussion, either by way of a plebiscite or community meetings.

"We want to find a water source within five kilometers of the core of the village," he said. "We're looking 30 years down the road, what Pugwash will look like without water, and I think the difference would be quite astounding, because no business wants to start up there without a good water supply."

He added that the master plan would not be affected by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board's decision regarding Pugwash's village status, a subject that will come before a public hearing in February.

In his two decades on county council, perhaps no issue has received more debate than the collection of solid waste, and the matter came up again this year when council decided to move to a countywide system of curbside collection, despite opposition from residents in some districts who wish to see their transfer stations remain open. A tender was awarded to PBS in November and the contract was signed on Jan. 4.

"For 20 years I've wanted to see curbside pickup and it's finally happening," said Hunter, who added he has had it in his district for several years and received no complaints. "I'm sure, once people get used to curbside pickup, they'll like it... really, who would want to drive to a transfer station to dump off garbage when you can just leave it at the end of your lane and have it picked up?"

Priorities for the warden in 2012 include the continuation of the Pugwash Master Plan, including shovels in the ground for infrastructure work; further co-operation with wind power developers on several projects poised to begin in the county; and working with the inter-municipal energy committee to seek federal and provincial funding for a $140,000 study on geothermal power.

Organizations: Pugwash Master Plan, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Parrsboro

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