MODG council

No “knee-jerk” reaction on travel expenses

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – The regular council meeting held for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough on Wednesday, June 8 did not include any discussion on the travel expenses claimed by council and staff that were released as part of a Freedom of Information request submitted by CBC earlier this month. When questioned after council adjourned about the MODG policy response to the released expenses Warden Vernon Pitts stated, “As far as I am concerned, I don’t think the Municipality of the District of Guysborough is doing anything wrong. I, for one, do not want a knee-jerk reaction. Council has a mandate, we have a budget, and we go forward based upon that.

“I’m not saying there will not be a discussion in regard to travel or attending conferences or seminars within the province, even outside the province or the country. That is something I would expect in the next couple of months; it is going to land on committee’s table. We’ll discuss it at that time and if there are any recommendations or changes warranted it will be brought forward to open council at that time. And at that time the public will be notified of any changes.”

It was announced last week that Melford International Terminal Inc. asked the province for, and was granted, an extension for the commencement of construction for a proposed container terminal in the Strait of Canso to 2018. This is the third such extension given to the project. MODG is a strong supporter of the terminal project and Pitts told media after council on Wednesday that this latest extension does not shake council’s hopes for the project. “Melford, they continue to make progress. As a matter of fact I was just informed today that they acquired a few more properties in regard to the rail corridor...I have not heard a lot of negativity in regards to it. You don’t hear a lot of talk in regards to the terminal and I think that is a good thing cause when people are very close to a culmination of events, an announcement, they usually go to ground for awhile. And I am hoping that within the very near future we are going to hear some good news out of it.”

In other business, negotiations with the province on the application for dissolution of the Town of Mulgrave and amalgamation with the MODG appear to be at a standstill. “I am sorry that the province has not come back to the negotiating table. I think anything can be negotiated out as long as the lines of communication are open and we’re willing to negotiate in good faith. Until such time nothing will be accomplished and in turn the UARB will decide what comes down. And I as warden of the municipality would far sooner set our own destiny between the province and the municipality and the former Town of Mulgrave than have the UARB set it. I am not going against the UARB; I think they make fine decisions but I think this is the one opportunity we have the chance to do it ourselves.

“As far as I am concerned the process is still going on but is the province going to contact us? I don’t know. There will be a hearing date set and if they don’t contact us before that we will go before the UARB and we’ll plead our case,” said Pitts of the current silence coming from the province on the amalgamation file.

Council also clarified its policy on grants to community groups at Wednesday night’s meeting. “Before it was one third, one third, one third...now it is strictly $25,000 maximum grant and 50-50 dollars,” said Pitts, noting that the other 50 per cent could come from any source; local fundraising, provincial or federal grants.

Council heard a report from Pitts on Eastern Region Solid Waste Management which noted the continuing problem of illegal dumping throughout the municipality. It is a problem that continues to plague many rural municipalities and Pitts praised the work of the solid waste compliance officer whose job it is to locate illegal dump sites and ascertain who is responsible. Responsible parties will be contacted and instructed to clean up the dump site or be billed by the municipality for clean up by Public Works staff. Pitts told the media after council adjourned, “We’re just trying to stay on top of it. Our compliance officer is doing a great job.”