A signed land agreement is proof the province had an agreement in place to build a new provincial jail in Springhill, says the town’s CAO Don Tabor.

The claim contradicts comments this week from NDP Premier Darrell Dexter, who said Wednesday there wasn’t a firm commitment to build a new jail in Springhill and added, that despite the April 29, 2009 announcement the project was in motion, it was without funding.

In a document obtained by the Amherst Daily News, however, the province was making promises much earlier than the contested announcement.

In a signed agreement between the town and Steve Chiason, acquisition and disposal officer for the province, the government purchased 33.06 acres of land — dubbed the “Provincial Lot” — from Springhill for $1, with provisions for the new jail near the community’s secondary water source as well as other promises.

Justice Minister Ross Landry says the new jail will not be built in Springhill or anywhere else in Cumberland County, opting instead to build one jail to replace the aging jails in Amherst and Antigonish.

Tabor, a former NDP candidate, resigned his position as the party’s Cumberland South riding association president earlier this week and feels there was a firm agreement in place.

“It wasn’t a pie-in-the sky agreement. It was the real thing,” he said.

What the agreement says
“The Province shall take all responsible steps and procedures to protect the reservoir and the waters of the reservoir as a source and supply of good quality water for the benefit of the town during the construction, use, maintenance, repair, replacement and operation by the province of a Correctional Facility on the Provincial Lot,” the contract dated March 16, 2009 reads.

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