The Town of Pictou discussed a recent provincial financial report during a regular meeting Monday.
Mayor Jim Ryan said the financial indicators report from the province came up during Monday’s regular meeting of council. While he said the town is considered a community of moderate financial risk, Ryan said the town is doing well but expected to improve on building reserves and tax collection. A cancelled tax sale in the spring was rescheduled until the fall and Ryan said the sale will improve both of those areas of concern.
Ryan said the annual reports offer financial guidance to municipalities and also offers an opportunity to reflect on long-term plans for the town.
Pictou Town Council has signalled it is willing to work with the community’s food establishments as they navigate COVID-19 regulations.
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan says the town is open to discussing options with bars and restaurants looking for additional space to accommodate social distancing.
Ryan says the added space allowances would be for the tourist season. Ryan says the dates for additional dining spaces would be set with each operator, but he expects it would end for all businesses around Thanksgiving.
The Town of Pictou is making some adjustments to its Capital Budget. Town Council initially approved $2.75 million in expenditures back in February. Mayor Jim Ryan says the changes are being made to allow the town to conduct improvements to the aeration system at its Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The additional cost is approximately $50,000. Ryan says it means redeploying more money towards the project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Ryan says some of the projects in its capital budget may qualify for provincial and federal funding. However, Ryan says as it moves money around in its budget it may mean some smaller projects will have to wait.
Voters in the Town of Pictou will cast their ballots electronically in this fall’s municipal election. Mayor Jim Ryan says council decided at its regular meeting Monday night that residents will vote using either their telephone or computers, with no paper ballots. Ryan says in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an issue of safety.
Earlier this month, councils with the Municipality of Pictou County and the Town of Stellarton also agreed to go with electronic voting via phone and online for the October election.
The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library has announced plans to reopen its branches later this month. Officials say all seven branch libraries will open the week of June 15th. The Antigonish and New Glasgow libraries will open on Monday, the 15th. The River John, Pictou, Stellarton, Trenton and Westville branches open the following day, Tuesday, the 16th.
Operating hours for the first stage of opening will be reduced; a list of the hours for each branch can be found on the Pictou Antigonish Regional Library’s web site. Each branch will also limit the number of people in the library at a time. During this first stage, where will be no in-person programs or events because of social distancing requirements.
Each branch will also resume the Borrow-by-Mail Service. Residents can also call ahead to the local library and request to have a reserved library item brought outside for front-door pickup.
During a special meeting of council for the Town of Pictou last night, members voted to approve a COVID19 property tax financing program policy. Mayor Jim Ryan said it is part of program offered to all Nova Scotia municipalities. It will allow commercial and residential property owners to apply finance their taxes for this fiscal year. Ryan said they would have to pay a set fee of $25 for the last six months of this year and they would then be able to repay their taxes for this fiscal year over the next 24 months.
Ryan said it would guarantee liquidity in operating costs for the town and offer a break to those who may be struggling. The interest the town will be charged is 1.1 per cent while the rate payer will be charged 1.35 per cent interest.
A bungalow fire displaced a family of five in Pictou.
Canadian Red Cross volunteers arranged emergency lodging and purchases of food, clothing and some other basics for a couple and three children ranging in age from three months to eight years. They also provided comfort toys for the children.
There were no reported injuries from the fire on Prince Street, which was discovered shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Red Cross volunteers maintain social distancing and adhere to other COVID-19 public health directives when providing emergency assistance.
Like all Nova Scotia municipalities, the Town of Pictou had to make some changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Jim Ryan said the town is supporting residents as best they can. He said the town is working with other local municipalities in Pictou County in various ways to make sure essential services can continue. While operations are continuing with the town, they closed down the town office and shut down and drained the town’s pool.
While they had to lay-off some staff, the town office and public works staff are going forward with their usual duties.
Ryan said a lot of businesses have closed down from a public perspective but some, particularly in the food industry, are exploring new ways to be able to provide their wares to the pubic, either through delivery or take-out.
These are challenging times for everyone, said the mayor, but they are encouraging people to follow the directives of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
On Sunday, a Pictou District RCMP officer located a structure fire at a business on Caladh Avenue in Pictou. The Pictou Fire Department attended the scene to extinguish the fire.
The fire caused substantial damage to the building and police are investigating this fire as suspicious. Anyone with informaiton about the incident is asked to call the RCMP in Pictou at 902-755-4141, Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or submit a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca
A non-profit group in Pictou has been given the go-ahead to get the ball rolling on building a splash pad in town. The Brody Park Splash Pad Society has presented a proposal to council, with the town taking ownership and operations once the project is complete. Megan Graham of the Society says this is only the first step of the multi-year project, as there are plans to draft and money to raise.
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan says the proposed splash pad, coupled with a skate park also in the works, would be a boon for Brody Park.
The splash pad came before Pictou Town Council on Monday night.