CBRM Council: Easements, Wastewater & Rules of Engagement

èI tuned into last night’s CBRM council meeting just in time for the singing of the national anthem (done a capella, I presume due to technical difficulties) and so missed the roll call and am not sure why Mayor Amanda McDougall-Merrill was not present—I know only that it was Deputy Mayor James Edwards in the chair.

There were two big items on last night’s agenda, one being a request that the municipality take ownership of the Emera Centre in North Sydney, which I’ve dealt with in a separate article, the other being a presentation on Volunteer Fire Service Recruitment by Fire Chief Michael Seth. The Issue Paper on the subject is attached to the agenda and explains that Seth wants to consolidate the recruitment process under the central authority of the Cape Breton Regional Fire and Emergency Services rather than leaving it up to the individual volunteer departments, but the item  was removed from the agenda and sent back to committee at the beginning of the meeting.

That left a handful of corporate services items which I will now recap.


Item 5.1

“In response to Hurricane Fiona,” Nova Scotia Power Inc (NSPI) has been “taking steps to improve the reliability and safety of the transmission system near Morrison Road, Birch Grove.”

It is, of course, always best to improve the reliability and safety of your transmission system after a hurricane, so hats off to NSPI.

To accomplish these improvements, the corporation needs to widen the existing right of way for “future vegetation and electrical system management” and council agreed last night to Property Manager Sheila Kolanko’s recommendation it sell NSPI 2.48 acres (portions of three municipally owned PIDs) for $2,480.

Council was told that two of the PIDs are in watershed areas and one is in a former watershed, so none is likely to be declared surplus in future.

District 4 Councilor Steve Gillespie asked (rather optimistically) if the $2,480 payment was a one-off or might perhaps recur annually and was told it was a one-off.

District 9 Councilor Ken Tracey, who missed the past two council meetings and seemed anxious to make his presence known last night, moved this motion, which was seconded by District 5 Councilor Eldon MacDonald and which was carried unanimously.



Item 5.2

Kolanko stuck around to present this next item, which was a recommendation that council direct staff to begin legal proceedings to close Beach Street in Glace Bay as it runs across a property deemed necessary for the construction of the Glace Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Moved by Councilor Tracey and seconded by District 7 Councilor Steve Parsons, the motion also carried unanimously.


An aerial view of Beach Street in Glace Bay, NS.

Item 5.4

Planning Director Michael Ruus explained that in 2019, the provincial government had mandated that “all parts of municipalities” were to have in place a planning strategy and land-use by-law that met the Regulations Respecting Minimum Planning Requirements under section 214(4) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) by the end of 2022.

In terms of planning, the legislative amendments to the MGA require:

A list of planning amendments to the NS MGA.Ruus explained that CBRM remains engaged in the Regulatory Modernization Plot which has seen it partner with other Island municipalities to “find opportunities for alignment” and “reduce regulatory burden for possible investment within communities.” Final public consultation on the plan was scheduled for last fall but Hurricane Fiona had different ideas. Thanks to an extension from the Department of Municipal Affairs, it will proceed this spring.

Nevertheless, the department wants the municipality to update its policy for community engagement by end-March 2023. Ruus said the CBRM meets the majority of the minimum planning requirements, but lacks a policy on engaging with abutting municipalities when adopting or amending its planning strategy.

So Ruus asked council to direct planning to staff to draft such a policy for consideration at the next regular meeting of council and to consult with Membertou and Eskasoni as to “if and how they would like to be engaged within the scope of this policy.”

Council passed the motion unanimously, without discussion.


Thanks, Tim and Dave!

District 12 Councilor Lorne Green moved that council send a letter of thanks to Premier Tim Houston for putting $58.9 million into a medical school at CBU. Thanks were also to be expressed to CBU President Dave Dingwall, although I’m not sure whether he’s getting a letter (maybe the municipality could take out a full page in the Post, that seems to be his favorite method of communication).

“I think it is important for us as a community to acknowledge when something is given to us,” said Green.

Presumably a similar letter will soon be winging its way toward the CMHC, which gave us, as a community, $5 million last November.