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Municipality of Digby studying ideas for former government buildings

Linda Fraser (second from left) at the Nov. 27 council meeting of the Municipality of Digby. Also shown from left are: executive assistant Pat Stevens, Warden Jimmy MacAlpine and Deputy CAO Jeff Sunderland. JAMES MALLORY
Linda Fraser (second from left) at the Nov. 27 council meeting of the Municipality of Digby. Also shown from left are: executive assistant Pat Stevens, Warden Jimmy MacAlpine and Deputy CAO Jeff Sunderland. JAMES MALLORY

Former elementary school and DNR office were acquired by municipality

DIGBY, N.S. - The Municipality of Digby is trying to figure out what to do with former government buildings now in their possession.

At the Nov. 27 council meeting of the Municipality of Digby, a brief update was given on strategic priority items falling under the Corporate NOW Priorities. Following the meeting, Municipality of Digby CAO Linda Fraser pointed out that two of these items involve finding uses for the former Barton Consolidated elementary school and the former Department of Natural Resources building in Haines Lake.

The Barton school, which opened in 1960, was closed this year after Nova Scotia's Tri-County Regional School Board voted to close the educational facility. Most students have been dispersed to Digby Elementary and a few entered high school at the Saint Mary’s Bay Academy in Weymouth.

Because the Barton property is in the Municipality of Digby’s name, ownership reverts back to the municipality.

We actually got the keys to that building two or three weeks ago,” said Fraser.

“I think the Barton school property options, that’s something that’s going to be discussed. I think there’s a report being prepared now for presentation to council next month.”

Fraser said the municipality’s Deputy CAO Jeff Sunderland is compiling a report with options for the property and building.

“Either determine that it’s surplus to our needs and then put it out to tender to sell, or to determine it’s something that we would want to keep and decide from there what use it could be used for,” said Fraser.

The other file the municipality would like to see action on next month is the Haines Lake property plan. This involves finding a use for the former Department of Natural Resources site.

“That would be a former Department of Natural Resources site that the municipality acquired from the province a couple years ago now when they moved their office from there to Cornwallis Park. Because it provided one of the…last spots that provided public access to Haines Lake, the municipality and council at the time decided they wanted to try to get it and we were fortunate enough to purchase it. So, we’re just looking now at options of how the community want to use it.”

Fraser said an open house was held in September to view the site and surveys were given to people to fill out. Fraser said Jonathan Riley, the municipality’s Trails and Open Spaces coordinator, has been assigned this file and will likely have a report for council in the coming weeks.

Fraser explained that these two items have December timelines for some form of action, however, the process can be fluid depending on the complexity.

After the last election, council sat down and put together some strategic priorities to carry them through over the next four years for their mandate. Some were now priorities, some were next priorities…so some of the timelines can be a bit of a moving target,” she concluded.

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