Mayor looks back at year that was

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - PARRSBORO&AREA - BY AN­DREW WAGSTAFF

PARRS­BORO – Af­ter an­other year of ups and downs in Parrs­boro, Mayor Lois Smith took time to look back at 2010 and ahead to the com­ing year in an an­nual year-end in­ter­view with The Cit­i­zen.

Your wor­ship, thank you for tak­ing part in this in­ter­view again. I don’t have a set or­der of ques­tions, but rather a group of ideas on things I thought we could talk about. At the top of the list is the tidal power project. There was some prob­lems with the test tur­bine this year, but I guess you could look at that as a pos­i­tive or a neg­a­tive be­cause the pur­pose of it is to test equip­ment.

It’s an ex­per­i­ment, yes, and in the very early stages of it. I’m not say­ing it was good that some­thing hap­pened to it, be­cause it would have been great if it hadn’t, but, now with ex­am­in­ing the tur­bine they were able to re­move, they will be able to de­ter­mine what hap­pened to the blades. I have not heard if they have been able to re­trieve any in­for­ma­tion at all.

Do you know how far this has set things back? Be­cause there were sup­posed to be two more tur­bines added this year and that didn’t hap­pen.

No, it didn’t hap­pen, and I think a lot of that was be­cause of the or­der­ing of the sub­sea cable. But that’s now been or­dered and the prop­er­ties that the trans­mis­sion lines will cross... the prop­erty own­ers have all been con­tacted, and to my un­der­stand­ing ap­proval has been given for it to go ahead. I wouldn’t say it has set them back. I’m sure they an­tic­i­pated there would be some prob­lems. It could have been worse. A date has not been es­tab­lished for the of­fi­cial open­ing of the in­ter­pre­tive cen­tre, but it will be in the spring.

So you still feel good about the way things are go­ing there?

Ab­so­lutely. It’s on track, as far as I’m concerned. There have been re­quests for 2-3 more berths from other com­pa­nies, so there is some in­ter­est.

One dis­ap­point­ment we had this year was the prov­ince’s an­nounce­ment that the pro­posed nurs­ing home for Parrs­boro would not be go­ing ahead. I’m sure it wasn’t a sur­prise, be­cause an an­nounce­ment had been de­layed for months...

That’s right, even though we had been in con­tact with the com­pany, High Crest, who still wanted to lo­cate here. They were in­ter­ested, right up un­til the very end.

Cit­i­zen:

Lois Smith:

What are your feel­ings on how that turned out?

Dis­ap­pointed, from the point of view of the two ob­vi­ous rea­sons of how it would have ben­e­fited Parrs­boro: se­niors would have been able to be kept in their lo­cal com­mu­nity, and the job op­por­tu­ni­ties, with very lit­tle chance that a large com­pany would ac­tu­ally set up in Parrs­boro. It was a ray of hope that this might hap­pen, and var­i­ous good jobs would have been cre­ated to help keep younger peo­ple in the area. I’m still op­ti­mistic that, maybe not in the next year or two, but that per­haps the need will still be here.

Dur­ing the pro­vin­cial by­elec­tion cam­paign, NDP can­di­date Scott McKee said the govern­ment was plan­ning to is­sue an­other request for pro­pos­als.

He did say that at the de­bate, so I am hope­ful the NDP govern­ment will not just put it on the back­burner. Even if an­other com­pany puts in an­other pro­posal, I hope that they will look at all op­tions that might be there. Be­cause 65 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion in 10 years will be se­niors, and we’re cer­tainly not draw­ing a lot of younger peo­ple to the area. There’s not a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Dur­ing last year’s in­ter­view, you men­tioned the strate­gic plan for recre­ation and Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom (CIB) as pri­or­i­ties for 2010. How did the year go as far as those pri­or­i­ties are concerned?

There were some dif­fi­cul­ties along the way with CIB that held the com­mit­tee back in ac­com­plish­ing its goal. The in­ten­tion was there, and the ob­sta­cles were not is­sues of the com­mit­tee it­self, they were wait­ing for ap­proval, fund­ing is­sues, etc. It got late in the sea­son. We were wait­ing for quite some time to fin­ish the gazebo on the town prop­erty. It was no one’s fault, pan­els were be­ing pre­pared, wait­ing for sup­pli­ers, a com­bi­na­tion of things didn’t make it as suc­cess­ful as the com­mit­tee would like to have seen. Our flow­ers on Main Street also did not hold up this year. We are go­ing to or­der ear­lier this year. It should have been more vi­brant on Main Street.

There was a staffing change in the recre­ation depart­ment. Is it still on track with the pri­or­i­ties that had been iden­ti­fied in the strate­gic plan?

It is. We have a new em­ployee on board, Tissy Bo­li­var, and she will be com­ing out with a recre­ation news­let­ter in the com­ing month. She is very much on track. She has started the walk­ing club three morn­ings a week at the fire hall, and 14-20 peo­ple are at­tend­ing. She will now be in con­tact with Pam Hoar to set up evenings of volleyball and bas­ket­ball at the high school. Lisa and Dawn re­viewed the plan af­ter Tissy ar­rived, and she re­ally likes the strate­gic plan and that’s how she’s ap­proach­ing her work. She’s fol­low­ing through on that.

One of the in­ter­est­ing things that came about this year was the Phin­ney Lane devel­op­ment, with the town tak­ing over that road.

Yes, I signed that agree­ment not long ago. (De­vel­oper) Matt Brewer met the re­quire­ments we re­quested, so yes we will be plow­ing the road.

What would you like to see hap­pen down there?

Devel­op­ment. In the heart of the town, we don’t have many build­ing lots, so if peo­ple would like to build in town we would more than en­cour­age them to. Be­sides the fact it’s tax dol­lars and those peo­ple are go­ing to par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties as well. I be­lieve Matt has had in­ter­est from 2-3 folks and one plans to start build­ing in the spring.

Is the town in good shape fi­nan­cially? The au­dits seem to show that it is.

Yes. We had a sur­plus of about $64,000 and it was trans­ferred to the op­er­at­ing fund. We have re­serve ac­counts for ev­ery depart­ment, so you want to have a fair amount in those. With hav­ing re­serve funds, gen­eros­ity in con­tract with county, we were able to pur­chase the new res­cue ve­hi­cle for the fire depart­ment. Some work was also done on the li­brary, with new signs and air con­di­tion­ing. We also this year con­tracted out for our clean­ing ser­vices for town hall, the fire hall and the li­brary.

A per­sonal high­light for you this year must have been be­ing the guest speaker at the PRHS grad­u­a­tion?

Oh, I en­joyed that. It was like be­ing back home, 15 years later. I would be re­miss if I didn’t men­tion that we lost some cit­i­zens this year, in par­tic­u­lar the two young men ( Jor­dan Lake-McGrath and Bo Lat­tie), that sad­dened the town and en­tire sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties. These are things that re­ally hit a small com­mu­nity and it af­fected ev­ery­one in town. It was a rather sad time.

What are your pri­or­i­ties for 2011? What tops your list of things you would like to see?

We are talk­ing about Phase 2 of our sewer project. Ray (Hickey, town CAO) and I are go­ing to visit my for­mer home­town of Pic­tou, where they re­cently put in a new sewer plant. So we are con­tin­u­ally look­ing at treat­ment plants, and the cost. Phase 2 is con­nect­ing the two out­flows first and then Phase 3 would fol­low. Some­time in 2011 we will have Phase 1 paid for, and once that hap­pens we will seek fund­ing for Phase 2, but I think we need to be ready for Phase 2 and 3. I would say con­tin­u­ing on with that would be a pri­or­ity. Also im­prov­ing Main Street to bring more vis­i­tors, keep our own folks here and en­cour­age lo­cal shop­ping. One of our big pri­or­i­ties for 2011 is to start plan­ning a new town hall. In this build­ing I would like to have the VIC back here again, the li­brary, and some­place for the recre­ation depart­ment to store things, as well as a com­mon room for monthly meet­ings. We’ve also started new list of streets that need to be paved and didn’t get done in the re­cent pro­gram of 13 streets. Thank you for do­ing this. Thank you and Happy New Year to all.

AN­DREW WAGSTAFF  THE CIT­I­ZEN

C: Parrs­boro Mayor Lois Smith strolls along the Two Is­lands Road board­walk ear­lier this week. The mayor took a re­cent look back at the year gone by in an an­nual year-end in­ter­view with The Cit­i­zen.

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