Mayor Kogon states that “With the recent setting of the 2022-23 tax rates and the passing of our operations and capital budgets, the town council is ensuring Amherst continues to move forward in a positive, progressive, forward-thinking manner.”
Pointing to the tax rate – set at $1.67 per $100 of assessment for residential and resource properties and $4.47 per $100 of assessment for commercial properties – the mayor said the council was pleased that during an inflationary period it could keep the tax rates at last year’s level, while maintaining the current level of excellent services it provides to its citizens and continuing to improve the town’s infrastructure.
As an example of improving the town’s infrastructure for the future, the mayor pointed to a project on Victoria Street West that will replace aging water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines and rebuild the part of the street that lies between the CNR tracks and Hickman Street.
“We have placed slightly more than $2.3 million in our budgets to carry out this work, which, with the assistance of a federal government ICIP Infrastructure Grant that we have applied for, will see the planning for this project take place this year and the work being carried out in 2023,” Kogon said.
In addition, the town has set aside $225,000 to replace the storm and sanitary sewers and install new curbing on Beacon Street, between Croft and Church streets, and another $210,000 to replace the storm sewer while installing new curbing and the paving of Boylston Avenue between Milford Street and Elmwood Drive. This work is expected to be carried out this construction season.
“These investments show the town is ensuring that our town’s important infrastructure can serve us well now and many years into the future,” the mayor said. Another example of how the town is investing in its future is the work being carried out to update the town’s land-use bylaw and municipal planning strategy. The project – Plan Amherst – has already completed its first phase, which included an intensive effort to consult with the public.
A summary of information provided by citizens will be released later this month, while the draft planning documents will be available for public feedback in early 2023. “Upgrading our land-use bylaw and municipal planning strategy is important because it gives us a chance to look at where we are now and where we want to be in the future,” the mayor said. “The new documents will provide a guideline for us as a community as we move forward.”
Kogon said the town’s collaboration with the Municipality of the County of Cumberland in a community centre needs and feasibility study is another positive step taken by the two municipalities as they look to the future. “Given the age of the Amherst Stadium, council feels this community centre project could be a game changer, both for the quality of life of our residents and economic development efforts for the greater area,” the mayor said. “Having top-notch facilities like this is now considered basic infrastructure for growing, prosperous communities such as ours.”
He noted community consultation will be a major part of the $83,000 study that is being carried out by Sierra Planning and Management of Toronto. The cost is being split between the two municipal units, with the town picking up 80 per cent of the tab. Improving the quality of life in the town is another major priority of the town council, Kogon said. It is why the council recently established an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee and an Accessibility Advisory Committee. (You can read more about this new advisory committee on page 15 of this newspaper).
Another effort to improve the quality of life is the town’s participating in the newly formed Intermunicipal Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee. “The purpose of this committee is to advise all municipalities in Cumberland County on matters regarding poverty reduction through the application of social equity lenses within rural communities,” Kogon said. “Its goals are to increase wellness and quality of life for all constituents by focusing on what is needed to prevent people from experiencing poverty and supporting those who are financially marginalized by focusing on inclusion, empowerment, capacity building and cross-sectoral collaboration.”
The town is also committed to becoming a greener community as evident through the purchase of an electric-power Zamboni, which has improved the air quality within the stadium. This year, the town is investing slightly more than $390,000 on two Solar for Community Buildings projects that will see solar arrays installed near the wastewater treatment facility in Fort Lawrence and the reservoir property off Willow Street. Council is also looking forward to hosting several community events, including the upcoming Canada Day Festivities once again.
“After two years of COVID, we look forward to bringing our community back together again with these events,” Kogon said. “We are committed to ensuring that Amherst truly is a great place for everyone to live, work and play.”