From beautification to raw sewage, Smith offers her thoughts
PARRSBORO – Following is an annual Q&A interview that Citizen-Record co-editor Andrew Wagstaff conducted recently with Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith.
© Andrew Wagstaff - cumberlandnewsnow
Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith sat down recently for an annual year-end interview, looking at just a few of the issues facing her town in what was an eventful 2013.
Andrew Wagstaff: Mayor Smith, I have never heard more positive comments on how great Parrsboro looked, than I did this year. How satisfied are you with beautification efforts?
Lois Smith: Absolutely. Everyone who has stopped me or contacted me couldn’t get over it, and it’s always been positive comments. We are certainly indebted to Doris Soley, who loaned us her wonderful sculptures. They were a big attraction, no question.
AW: There seemed be a lot of positive feedback on the work Taylor Redmond was doing in her (project co-ordinator) position. That term is coming to an end. What does the future hold for that?
LS: She’s on for another year. We made that decision at the last council meeting. She will be with us at least for another year. She did a super job. We were really happy with it. We asked her if she would consider staying on for another term and she said yes, so that’s good news.
AW: A lot of work from volunteers went into the Communities in Bloom effort. Five blooms are not easy to get. Where would you like to see that go?
LS: We can go internationally or nationally, or provincial again. (Co-ordinators) David Howe and Dawn McCully have approached me, and we are going to make a decision next month. Council intends to have a social event for all the folks who were involved, whether they played a large part or just looked after their own properties. It will be early January at the fire hall. At that time, David Howe would like to explain to those gathered what the next step might be, if the town is interested.
CR: The aboiteau bridge has continued to be an issue. What has been done, and what is left to do?
LS: Its about one-third to half-finished. The province did what it said it would do at this time - minor repairs, some guardrails, and some cement work. DNR (department of natural resources) joined with them and brought in a lot of armour rock, which has stopped the flow of water from the aboiteau, not 100 per cent, but it did give us a bit of water toward the end of summer and fall. Now we’re working with (local furnace plant) Granby and they are going to make six new gates that should help the situation. We are paying for the material, and they are volunteering their time, which is wonderful. (Granby employee) Myles Willigar was a major player in that. He came to us and we were certainly more than pleased.
Moving into Phase 2 of the sewer project, which is joining the two outflows from Riverside and the town, it would make sense if the bridge, which is going to be completely replaced – the province has it on a 3-5-year plan - to have it replaced a little sooner and do the work for both projects at the same time.
AW: There was a lot of attention on the sewer issue, with the presentation the Mount Allison University students did. What did you think of that?
LS: They did a wonderful job, and I see they have received an A for their project. The evening they presented, I went off to Halifax for Eldon George’s Order of Nova Scotia presentation, but I met with them prior to the meeting and invited them to come into committee-of-the-whole, which they did last week. We had a great conversation. Council did have some questions, and they were here for about 20 minutes. There was no animosity between us. (Criticism) seemed to be a little out in the public, with comments like, “This council isn’t doing anything.” Well, we have been. They didn’t even realize we had done Phase 1 ($800,000 project replacing storm sewer and pipes on Pier Road and Two Islands Road).
We met with Chris McNeil, who is our contact with the department of municipal affairs, in November and he said we have to get an RFP (request for proposals) out there and hire an engineering firm to tell us what is needed for Phase 2 and Phase 3 (sewage treatment). That’s the first stage, and it will probably cost $25,000.
AW: CAO Ray Hickey did say the town is committed to having sewage treatment by 2020, which it has to by law. How do you see the town getting there by 2020?
LS: If we receive (infrastructure) funding, which is 1/3 federal, 1/3 provincial, 1/3 municipal, we have money in the sewer/infrastructure account. We put aside so much each year; and gas tax money, we are able to use that. We don’t know how much it will cost, so it’s unknown right now.
AW: A committee was formed this year to save the Parrsboro lighthouse. What is needed to save it, and what benefit do you see in keeping the lighthouse there?
LS: So many local residents, visitors and cottage owners say it wouldn’t be the same without it. The town doesn’t own the lighthouse; the federal government does. Through the harbour commission, of which I’m the chair, we made the decision to at least look at salvaging the Parrsboro lighthouse. It’s in very bad shape. On the roof of the 24x24 section, water is flowing through the old shingles, and there’s flooding inside. The walls are covered in asbestos, which puts up red flags for everybody dealing with it. A local group has just been formed, and will come up with an estimate for repairs, and the federal government will give a grant to the group, within reason.
AW: Speaking of activity in the wharf area, there was a lot of excitement during the past month over the tidal cable laying operation. Is that a glimpse of the spin-off activity Parrsboro is going to see from tidal power?
LS: It would be, because, when they come in, they come full force. They need these technical people. It was good because some people were doubting anything was going to happen, and I think this might have generated some awareness that there’s something happening down there. It was a good boost for this time of year for the community. I think the gas station did well, the accommodations did well, and the restaurant did very well. That’s an example, particularly of what to expect when turbines are going to be placed. We were a little worried about the weight on the wharf, but everything went well. They were able to retrieve the weight load information from the Province of Nova Scotia. We didn’t have that in all the documents that were turned over to us when the property was divested.
AW: Which goals that stand out in your mind for 2014?
LS: Getting busy on a sewage treatment plant – getting the proper funding applications out, and studies done. Continue with the Main Street (improvement) project. Unfortunately, Ray applied through ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) for improvements to the Main Street downtown area, because we would still like to put a boardwalk down to Ships Company Theatre, but it was not successful. We will reapply. Ongoing work will continue at Glooscap Park & Campground, which is a good business for us. People love the park. We did electrical work for six new sites this year. We need some new signage and we’re looking at trying to have flush toilets, which you need today. We will also be starting our strategic plan for rising sea levels.
AW: Mayor Smith, thank you for doing this, and all the best in 2014.
LS: Same to you, and Happy New Year to all your readers.