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Region of Queens Council returns to regular schedule after summer break

By Evan Taylor Sep 19, 2023 | 1:56 PM

The 7th Council of the Region of Queens Municipality. Photo: RoQ.

Queens County, Nova Scotia – After a hiatus during July and August, the Region of Queens Council resumed its regular meeting schedule with a bustling agenda. In their first gathering after the summer recess, council engaged in discussions on a variety of issues of local importance.

At the outset of the meeting, council opened the floor to public input. Among the concerns raised was the matter of water utility customers seeking refunds due to a month-long period without drinkable water following a lightning strike that affected the treatment station. Mayor Darlene Norman clarified that the Region of Queens would not be issuing refunds, explaining that the water utility functions as a separate legal entity, and rate determinations fall under the jurisdiction of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

The council then turned its attention to fiscal matters, with finance staff reporting a noteworthy $1.6 million operating surplus for the previous year. Mayor Norman attributed this surplus to a combination of factors, including an unexpected $1.2 million influx from deed transfer tax and investment returns. An additional $400,000 remained unspent due to vacancies in staff positions that the Region has struggled to fill.

Further initiatives were set in motion as the council awarded contracts following requests for proposals. One contract pertains to an evaluation of the Region’s Information Technology systems, a necessary step after years without a comprehensive assessment. Mayor Norman emphasized the importance of understanding which IT systems are effective and why.

The second contract involves a comprehensive staff and council compensation review, addressing whether current pay rates align with those offered by other municipalities and the private sector.

Another notable topic of discussion centered on the Queens County Rails to Trails and the Queens County ATV Association’s proposal to redesignate a trail corridor from West Street, behind the municipal offices building, to Silver Rock Road for multi-use. Presently, the trail only permits pedestrians, and both organizations advocate for its opening to off-highway vehicles and bicycles.

The last notable occurance at the meeting saw, the Region of Queens apply for intervenor status at an upcoming hearing before the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Board regarding a proposed site expansion at the salmon farm in Liverpool Bay.

The next council meeting is scheduled for September 26, with proceedings commencing at 6:00 PM in the council chambers.