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The future of the town depot site

Petition to prevent development circulates online

The buildings may be gone, but future plans for the site of the former town depot in the downtown area have yet to be finalized. © René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES – With the removal of the old town depot, questions began to arise about what the planned development would be in the area.

Recently a petition was circulated online that asked for signatures to stop the development of the back road behind the courthouse and up to Scotiabank, noting that the area is currently the home of Andy’s Rainbow Park. There is worry that developing the road, currently a gravel bypass access road, would lead to an increase in traffic.

Mayor Brian Button said he understands that there are concerns, but he doesn’t believe traffic will be a major issue because adjustments can always be made to ensure safety is taken into consideration.

“We have parks throughout our community that are on main thoroughfares and main roads. Maybe the exit point for the road could be possibly looked at. Maybe the exit road could come on a loop that could take away from going further in to where the parks are – that sort of thing. As we move forward and look at things, we can actually look at that better because we didn’t have that point of entry from the municipal depot to be able to look at it from that area. Now we will have that particular piece to maybe drive the road in a different way. It’s a good point that residents have brought up, and it’s something, when looking at the area through a different lens, that we can size up which way it all can go.”

Button said there are no current plans set in stone for what is going to be developed in the space.

“Right now, the initial plans have been the removal of the structure that was there. We just recently removed the building and now we’re removing the rest of the foundation, and we’ll try to level that property back up and as we further our plans on what we want to do with it, we are looking at several options for it, whether it’s green space or whether it’s a development for a business or whatever. But the overall plans are to get the property cleaned up. That’s our main focus as of right now.”

The cleanup was long overdue.

“The building itself was an eyesore and there were some safety issues as well, keeping a dilapidated building in the downtown core. There’s been a downtown project where we’ve been trying to dress up the downtown and trying to look at a means of developing different areas of downtown and do some things there, so we’ll continue those discussions and make more permanent plans for it. For now, it’s one step at a time,” said Button. “We’ve since moved into a new town depot and the old town depot was in dilapidated condition and I’m happy to say that it has now been taken down and we still have crews on site now removing the rest of the structures. There’s quite a bit of work there; the removal of the structures, the fencing. We have materials that are down there that have to be brought in to do some fill-ins down there. It’s now to get the space there, see what we have, and from there we start to move forward.”

Button said that more discussions will take place on the site’s future.

“Right now, I would think, over the next several weeks we should get the property cleaned up and from there we will start the conversations. I think we will be moving into the next season before we actually do any bigger plans. We will have more discussions over the winter months on what we’ll do with the property for next year.”

Button said anything could happen between now and then to influence the final decision.

“We don’t know what could happen. Could be something that could come up in the wind over the next little while that might be something the Town would want to look at, so that’s why we don’t have it carved completely out at the moment of what we’ll do, but for the most part we’re looking at green space area, dressing up the area, and as we speak we are getting some correspondence from people on what they think should be there.”

Button said it was difficult to look at the property as it existed previously and be able to envision exactly what could be done with it.

“With a lot of pieces there that make the aesthetics of the property look dreary, it’s hard to focus your mind around what it might be or what we could do with it, but once we get it cleaned up and get a better look at it, get the thought process on some of the ideas coming forward, we’ll be able to move forward and make this a whole lot better than what we currently have.”

Button said the beautification of the town is something that the town will continue to focus on.

“It’s our job as municipal leaders to try to keep up the properties of the town. We’ve got to be stewardships of our own properties as well. We’ve had, as far as I’m concerned, one of the biggest eyesores in the community removed. The building was no longer being used for the purpose of a municipal depot. We have a brand new facility which is a beautiful facility. This building was run down. It was in dilapidated shape. It’s important to be able to remove this type of structure and be able to move forward. We’re all trying to beautify our communities and have our communities in a good condition, not just for our residents, but for people visiting,” said Button. “We’ve got to do our part as well and I think it’s very important that we had it as a priority, to have this removed this year, and have this piece of it done.”

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