District of Carleton North Council briefs

by | Jul 31, 2023

Renovation of gallery, environmental impact assessment, and McCain Street upgrades

The following items of business were discussed at the July 25, 2023, District of Carleton North Council meeting:

1.) ALMAG gallery renovations discussed

Mayor Andrew Harvey updated the council on a recent meeting regarding the proposed expansion of the Andrew & Laura McCain Art Gallery. Harvey and interim CAO Nancy Shaw met with gallery executive director Jennifer Stead to discuss the possible renovation, including Stead’s thoughts on the expansion, public art, art education, and arts and culture in general.

Mayor Harvey mentioned that he felt that arts and culture are one of the building blocks of the District of Carleton North and that it is important to consider the council’s role in developing that.

“We’ll keep everybody abreast of that,” said Harvey, and he shared that Stead will continue to provide information to council as the potential expansion project develops.

2.) Environmental Impact Assessment Review required

Mayor Harvey read a letter from the Department of Environment and Local Government which advised that following the local government reform, there were approximately 2.32 million hectares of previously unincorporated land that became incorporated through various local governments across the province.

As a result, the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation requires an amendment that will trigger a review process. Reviews will be required for any residential development with more than 30 hectares unless it is supplied by water and wastewater systems owned and operated by the local government or a wastewater commission.

The review will ensure that significant residential developments have a sufficient, safe water supply, have their sewage managed appropriately, and new subdivisions will have minimal environmental impact. If residents have comments and concerns, they can submit them to elg-reg@gnb.ca or call 1-506-444-5382.

3.) McCain Street upgrades to start in August

Councillor Ray Haines reported to the council that an RFP for McCain Street upgrades was posted in April 2023. The contract was awarded to Cummings Contracting Inc. for $1,226,349.65.

Councillor Scott Oakes expressed his disappointment in the tender price, which was significantly higher than estimated by the engineering firm.

“I was a little disappointed that the engineering firm was so far off with their quote. When you’re paying a professional consultant firm a significant amount of money only to find out they’re off by $225,000… I think that’s a concern.”

“There is a lot of concrete work to be done to the sidewalks and curbs. There’s also a lot of work to be done with the drainage. So, there’s a lot of work to be done underground before we pave it; that’s why it’s so expensive. However, it [the increased cost] is also being driven by the price of concrete and asphalt, which have gone up 25-30% just this summer,” explained Mayor Harvey.

The mayor also advised council that the upgrades will start on August 14 and are expected to be completed by October 13. He stressed that the project is being paid for through existing Florenceville-Bristol reserves.

4.) Travel expenses for mayor and council

Councillor Angel Connor put forth a motion to council suggesting that the mayor and council members be reimbursed for their travel expenses. She noted the large size of the new district, which is 1,371 square kilometres, emphasizing that council members and the mayor often have to travel large distances to fulfill their duties, incurring significant expenses.

Connor proposed that the mayor be given a monthly expense allowance of $600 per month and that all other council members be reimbursed $0.50/km for mileage and other expenses (such as meals). A monthly cost form and receipts for expenses would be required.

“I want to be transparent,” said Mayor Harvey. “The travel to get to different parts of the district, just moving around as a mayor, I enjoy that. I like meeting people on their own turf, but the mileage is a big cost for me. There’s just no other way of saying it.”

Councillor Oakes agreed, noting that he often must eat out two to three times per week as he travels for meetings, which he says gets expensive. “While I do believe there is value in this [travelling for meetings], it can get prohibitive,” said Oakes, noting that gas is now at $1.75 per litre.

Harvey said expense reimbursement was discussed with the CAO and treasurer and was met with approval. The council unanimously approved the travel expense reimbursement, which will be retroactive to March 1, 2023.

5.) Update on Community Garden Project

The Knowlesville Art & Nature (KAN) Centre has been in discussion for almost a year with the District of Carleton North Council and the former Florenceville-Bristol Council regarding developing a forest restoration nursery as part of their Community Forest Restoration Initiative.

According to the KAN website, the initiative is “dedicated to scaling up forest restoration practices and increasing native tree and shrub populations in Western New Brunswick. We aim to see more people being engaged in understanding and appreciating the traditional Acadian Forest Ecosystem alongside efforts to protect and restore degraded ecosystems.”

At previous council meetings, the Shiketehawk Trail was discussed as a potential site for the tree nursery. Following another presentation at the last council meeting by the initiative’s project manager, Jean Arnold, Councillor Laurel Bradstreet said there is also interest in having a community garden.

“Jean Arnold talked about the trees at Shiketehawk Trail, and that was my first thought – why not a community garden there as well? We have water access; there’s a well there, so we can put a hand pump on that,” explained Bradstreet. “We’ve got schools trying to do programs teaching students how to use hand tools, so we could get schools involved in building the boxes.”

The councillor noted that Woodstock and Hartland both have community garden projects. He also volunteered the use of his tractor for site preparation.

Mayor Harvey said that one of the Western Valley Regional Service Commission (WVRSC) mandates is the development of community gardens. He suggested having the district contact WVRSC to see if they would provide any assistance with the project.

“The schools could build the boxes during the winter,” suggested Mayor Harvey, noting that much of the preparation could be done before next spring. Council agreed.

Harvey was enthusiastic about the project, declaring, “Let’s do it!”

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