Baile Mór (Gaelic) means "Big Town"
|— Town —|
|Motto: The Heart of the Highlands|
|Incorporated||January 9, 1889|
|- Type||Town Council|
|- Mayor||Carl Chisholm|
|- Governing Body||Antigonish Town Council|
|- Town||5.15 km2 (2 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||34 m (112 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|- Density||823.3/km2 (2,132.3/sq mi)|
|Time zone||AST (UTC-4)|
|- Summer (DST)||ADT (UTC-3)|
|Canadian Postal code||B2G|
|Telephone Exchanges||318 735 863 867 870 872 948 971|
|Median household income, 2000 (all households)||$41,773|
St. Francis Xavier University is located in Antigonish. St. Francis Xavier has 4,000 full-time students and 500 part-time students. It was named as the best undergraduate university in Canada by Maclean's magazine for five consecutive years (2002–2006). St. Francis Xavier is also well known for the X-Ring and the Coady International Institute.
The elementary and secondary schools in Antigonish fall under the jurisdiction of the Strait Regional School Board. Antigonish is home to three public schools: Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, St. Andrew Junior School and the Antigonish Education Centre.
Antigonish is considered to be a service centre as many of the local businesses are based in the service sector. There are no major industrial operations located in the town or county. The workforce is primarily white collar with the largest employers being St. Martha's Regional Hospital and St. Francis Xavier University. Another major employer in Antigonish is Canada Post's National Philatelic Centre, which provides mail-order services for worldwide collectors of Canadian stamps.
The Antigonish area experienced great deal of economic growth and retail development during this period. The retail landscape of the town and county changed significantly because of a building boom. Much of the growth has taken place in the Post Road area, just outside of town. Atlantic Superstore, Wal-Mart, and Central have constructed new stores while the former Atlantic SuperValue, also located in this area, has been redeveloped as a Staples Business Depot.
Other areas have also seen growth. In June 2005, Shoppers Drug Mart opened a new store downtown while the NSLC opened a new store attached to the existing Sobeys store, located next to mall. The following month a new GM dealership opened on the outskirts of town.
A multi-unit retail annex was constructed at the local shopping mall in the spring of 2006. This complex houses a new Cleve's Source for Sports store, Herbal Magic, and a Blockbuster. The mall area also saw the construction of a Boston Pizza restaurant which opened in late 2006.
The new A&W restaurant that opened in February 2007, could also be considered part of the building boom as construction began in late 2006.
The issue primarily relates to availability of land within town boundaries. Constant development has reduced the amount of undeveloped land within the town. According to Town officials, there is no longer enough land remaining for future expansion of the town. Town officials also suggest that this lack of vacant land is forcing new development into the 'fringe area' of the county that immediately surrounds the town. In an effort to address this situation, the Town applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (a quasi-judicial body that rules on issues related to government in Nova Scotia), on May 7, 2001, for permission to annex 6,503 acres (26.32 km2) of Antigonish County.
On May 28, 2001, several weeks after the Town made its application, the County of Antigonish applied to the NSURB to amalgamate with the town. The rationale for the application, as the county cited, were adverse effects related to the loss of tax revenue from annexed lands.
By January 2002, the town had reduced the amount of land area sought for annexation to 3,814 acres (15.43 km2). The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board consolidated the two applications and a public hearing was held over the span of three weeks, from January 26 to February 11, 2004. The hearing was designed to gauge public opinion of the issue. A total of 97 members of the public spoke at the hearings, representing both sides of the issue. After the public hearings were completed, the board was left to deliberate with the evidence it had collected.
On February 7, 2005, the board released its preliminary opinion (see Antigonish annexation and amalgamation decision). The 213 page report stated that area residents would be best served by amalgamation. It further ordered that a plebiscite be held in the town and county, no later than September 17, 2005, to determine the degree of support for amalgamation. The board would add the results of the plebiscite to the other evidence and then render a final decision.
However, the town soon appealed the ruling on the grounds that the NSURB does not have the authority to force two municipal units into amalgamation. The plebiscite was postponed while the issue was before the courts.
On October 17, 2005, the Town announced that it would be willing to back off its application for annexation if the County would drop its application for amalgamation. The County declined the offer on the 26th, indicating that it believed it was time to gauge public opinion of the issue with a plebiscite. Related to this, the County has asked that the Town drop its appeal of the NSURB authority and accept a plebiscite.
The Town did not drop its appeal and the issue remained in the courts for another five months. Finally on March 7, 2006, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rejected the Town's appeal. This decision paved the way for a plebiscite. Soon after the court ruling, the plebiscite was scheduled for June 17.