Nova Scotia

Province may wait for SWSDA money

The province must decide whether to forgo $500,000 so that former employees of the South West Shore Development Authority and other creditors can get paid.

The province must decide whether to forgo nearly $500,000 so that former employees of the South West Shore Development Authority and other small creditors can get paid.

The regional development agency collapsed a year ago, owing more than $2 million to more than 90 creditors.

The unsecured creditors, which include a Tusket construction company and seven former SWSDA workers, won't see any of that money unless the Nova Scotia government agrees to move to the back of the line.

The province holds the mortgage on the abandoned Seacoast soundstage. As a preferred creditor, it can step back so that small creditors can be paid first, though taxpayers stand to lose $475,000.

Aldric d'Entremont, warden of the Municipality of Argyle, supports the move.

"They're not very happy, and I don't blame them. I wouldn't be either. These people were owed money," d'Entremont said of the creditors.

A meeting was held Tuesday to discuss selling the Shelburne soundstage. The province asked for a two-week adjournment to decide what to do.

Gary Gaudet, one of the former SWSDA employees, is not convinced that selling the soundstage can make up for the loss of the collapse of the development agency.

"The only assets are a Shelburne base that isn't worth anything and never was. It's actually a farce to me that we're actually putting creditors in this room, people who have lost money … and this is what we're left with," he said.

SWSDA represented nine towns, including Yarmouth and Shelburne. The province was its biggest funding partner.

In February 2010, the province ordered an audit of SWSDA after investigators from the province's ombudsman's office spent a year looking into the authority.

That audit found that the SWSDA board didn't have the necessary skills  or information to oversee the running of the development authority.