By Kirk Starratt
Port Williams’ village commission still wants to purchase land around its wells, despite delays at the county level. Kings County council voted Jan. 3 to refer a decision on the village’s funding request to a special meeting Jan. 17.
Commission chairman Lewis Benedict said the village could live with a delay, as long as it gets some consideration from the county.
The village requested $60,000 from the municipality, one third of the $180,000 cost to purchase 12 acres of land around two of the village’s wells. The province is being asked for $60,000 and the village would provide the remaining third. The intent is for the village to gain control over use of the land near its drinking water source. Farming practices there have been suspected to be the cause of high nitrate levels in the village’s water.
The village has entered into an agreement with landowner Greg Coldwell to purchase the property.
The county’s chief administrative officer Bob Ashley said the Municipal Government Act does not allow the municipality to make a direct grant to the village for the land buy, but Benedict said he hopes the county can find some way to help.
“We’re committed to getting the land,” Benedict said.
Kings County resident Linda O’Neill expressed concern during the public comment period Jan. 3, saying there “is no definitive proof this will protect the two noted well fields.” O’Neill said if it will take more steps to purchase the necessary land to protect the water, it should be spelled out clearly.
Concerns over wording were part of the reason council delayed the matter, Warden Diana Brothers said.
Council took a ten minute break to look back at the records after Coun. Patricia Bishop, who made the referral motion Dec. 6, pointed out the motion before council Jan. 3 was not the same. The latter was worded by the municipal solicitor.
Brothers said council will review an audio recording of the December meeting to clarify the wording of the referred motion.
The delay could allow more time to arrange a meeting with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell, Brothers added, who has yet to respond to council’s request for a meeting on the Port Williams issue.
“I would strongly suggest a sit-in in MacDonell’s office to get him to listen to us,” Coun. Wayne Atwater said.