Carrie M. Best/A Digital Archive

Pictou Advocate column, Jan. 20, 1970
How Elderly "Unknown" Woman Eventually Got Her Title Deed


Prediction from Feb 29, 1968
This I recorded in this column following the "Sale for Unpaid Taxes" Evening News, Feb 8, 1968. During 1963 and prior to the Pictou County Regional Planning Commission, Harold Verge, director, and Don Mason, his associate, began a survey of lands in Pictou Co. as a preliminary to prepare the Urban, Renewal Report released in 1965.

During this period an extensive survey of the Vale Road area in New Glasgow was made and the area classified as "blighted" and recommendation made that the area be rezoned from residential to commercial.

Don Mason, now Director, publicly recommended the renewal of the Area and announced that Public Housing is the answer.

About the same time that the general survey was being conducted by the planning commission, extensive work was begun on the former Connolly property near the Potter's Bridge on East River Road.

Extensive bulldozing was carried on over a vast area to Granville Street and across to the old Vale Road.

A giant sewer pipe has been laid, large segments of land in the Vale Road area purchased and old property claims brought up to date.

This large lot of land purchased in 1914 by R. K. DeLong holds the key which will in future years open the door via Thorburn to the access to the Trans Canada Highway, both east and west.

Early this year the New Glasgow press announced that a $53,000 shopping plaza would be built on the Connolly property with parking for 2,000 cars.

After 48 Years -- Sanitation
On Dec. 31,1969, this announcement appeared in the Evening News: A major project ready for a start early in 1970 is the installation of sewer lines in the Vale Road area of town. This will be a major extension to the sewer system requiring a life station to be built and a pump installed in the low lying area.

Tenders for this phase of the work could be called in January and laying of pipe to start as soon as conditions permit in the spring.

Tax Sale 1968
When sixteen properties belonging to Negroes were advertised for sale in 1968, all were given ten year tax statements, none could be redeemed unless paid in full on or before Feb. 22nd. The excessive tax amounts have been under investigation and one has been referred to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

While it has been denied that any commercial plans are being formulated for the area, it is a matter of record that 21¾ acres of land in the Vale Road has been acquired in the area by one citizen. This has caused concern among the property owners there whose taxes are paid and who have been waiting for nearly a century for sewer services.

They are a small but well informed group -- informed -- and vigilant after the shock and fear of the Tax Sale.

Owners Unknown
In last week's issue I mentioned the task assigned the Assessors in Westville in preparing reasonable and equitable assessments, and of my sympathy for them.

This is a classical example.
In 1968 the card read - Land only - Owner Unknown. It was Lot 263, Vale Road. The house without electricity, running water and sewer was owned by the Town of New Glasgow, an "estate" (with emphasis on the last five letters), taken for taxes in 1965.

The "occupant" an ailing elderly woman, housekeeper to the late owner, although "unknown" on card 263, has lived in the house continuously for over 20 years. This was one incident where the non-violent Hell, recommended by Alan Borovoy, Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Association of Canada was raised.

This "unknown" had been paying taxes from her monthly welfare cheque amounting to less than $50 There is a happy ending.

On Friday, January 9th, while searching titles, I saw recorded in Pictou a Warranty Deed to the "Unknown" from the Town of New Glasgow, dated July 5, 1969. The property is assessed for $500. It was $700 before F.H. MacDonald took command. The occupancy tax is $100. The "Unknown" is exempt.

Such results are not the result of a mad rush on receipt of an assessment notice but a systematic search and you've got to be rugged and determined.

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