Nova Scotia

South shore authority disbands

A controversial development group that lost provincial funding earlier this spring has called it quits.

A controversial development group that lost provincial funding earlier this spring has called it quits.

The board of directors at the South West Shore Development Authority voted to cease operations on Thursday, putting seven people out of a job.

The authority, known as SWSDA, was a regional development agency that represented nine towns, including Yarmouth and Shelburne. It came under investigation after the Nova Scotia ombudsman's office received complaints from two Shelburne residents about the expenditure of public money. The province was the authority's biggest funding partner.

Phil LeBlanc, board chairman, said Friday that the development authority was able to do some good in the region.

"Most definitely I think there's been a lot of good done by SWSDA in the area. I think a figure I heard was between $80 million and $100 million worth of projects that have been done in the area over the past number of years," he said. "So that has had a huge impact on the area."

Board looking for provincial help

LeBlanc said the board is looking to the province for help in paying the bills left behind by the group, although he can't say how much is owed to creditors.

But last month, Neal Conrad, executive director of community and rural development, said the authority owes or cannot account for close to $500,000.

That includes about $360,000 that is owed to a Tusket construction company for its work on a community centre.

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

The audit, conducted by Ernst and Young, was highly critical of the development authority and the way it was run. It found the board of the organization didn't have the necessary skills or information to oversee the running of the development authority.

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