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Amherst Town Council January 22, 2024 – Meeting Highlights

January 24, 2024

AMHERST, Nova Scotia – A development agreement for 15 and 31 East Victoria Street was given first reading on Monday night, as recommended at a January 8 meeting of the Planning Advisory Committee. This development agreement will allow for a six-storey mixed-use building containing between 52 and 62 dwelling units, in addition to the already-approved 3-storey, 24-unit apartment building on three abutting properties bordered by East Victoria Street, Maple Avenue, and Electric Street. A Public Hearing on this project is scheduled for Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 5 pm, to take place at Amherst Town Hall.

Appointments to Committees

The Intermunicipal Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee was recently re-structured into a Town of Amherst committee with new Terms of Reference indicating the required appointment of one more Councillor. Previously, Councillor Landry was appointed as a member of the Intermunicipal Committee, and sought reappointment on the Town committee; Deputy Mayor Fawthrop expressed interest in being appointed as the second Council member. Terms of reference for this new committee also stipulate that up to six members of the public will be appointed. With two citizen members currently serving on the PRAC, a call for citizen appointments was issued, resulting in four applications being received by Donna Farrell, Ashley Legere, Trina Clark and LJ Barquilla. On Monday night, our two Council appointments and four citizen appointments to the Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee were all approved by Council.

A second committee – the Accessibility Advisory Committee – had three vacancies; three members remained, and Terms of Reference state that up to six citizen members can be appointed. After a call for citizen appointments, applications were received from Meghan Hicks, Vanessa Jones, and Clifford Pinchbeck, and each was approved by Council.

Amendment to Local Improvement By-law

In order to create an atmosphere most conducive to residential development in Amherst, the Town has created a Housing Infrastructure Investment Policy, which allows the Town to enter into a financing agreement with developers to provide local infrastructure (e.g. water, sewer, and streets) to new residential developments. The new Housing Infrastructure Investment Policy will be administered via the Town’s Local Improvement By-law, and each agreement to finance infrastructure must be included as an appendix to this by-law. At Monday’s regular meeting of Council, the By-law to Amend the Local Improvement By-law received second and final reading of the amendment to include the financing agreement for the Russell Street development, which will see approximately 50 houses constructed in four phases.

Amendments to User Fee Policy

Amherst’s Companion Animal Bylaw was amended at the November 27, 2023 meeting of Council. These amendments included changes to fees – particularly related to the impoundment of dogs – that are also outlined in our User Fee Policy. In order to reflect the amended fees in the Animal Control Bylaw, the User Fee Policy also needed to be amended, which was approved by Council on Monday night.

Industrial Park Land Acquisition

In support of Council’s core priority to expand business in the area, Invest Nova Scotia was approached in relation to five undeveloped properties located in the Amherst Industrial Park. Subject to ministerial approval, there is a willingness by Invest Nova Scotia to convey the lands to the Town at Net Book Value, plus any associated legal fees and closing costs. Council approved the purchase of these five properties on Monday night, which will give the Town the power to promote and advertise these properties and actively pursue development opportunities.

Library Funding

The Cumberland Public Library is headquartered in Amherst, and in November of 2023, a presentation was made to Council requesting bridge funding for 2024 library operations from January to March. The library is looking for a new funding formula from the Province, which could take effect in the new fiscal year. However, the library is at risk of decreasing hours of operation at its various branches throughout Cumberland County if bridge funding is not received. On Monday night, Council approved the request from the Cumberland Public Library for one-time bridge funding for the Amherst branch of the library, in the amount of $6,000.