Mayor on offensive over jail issue

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL - Springhill has always been a town to not go quietly in the face of adversity and the recent decision by the NDP government to scrap three years of work and put the building of a new correction jail in Springhill in limbo has mayor Allen Dill on the offensive.
Springhill and the four municipal units wrote Premier Darrell Dexter recently, asking for his explanation why the jail was one of the few promises made by the previous Conservative government tabled from the provincial budget and the Premier's response, Dill says, was less than thrilling.
"Essentially, the Premier says the decision has not been made yet if it would be one or two jails," Dill says.
A study lead by the Dept. of Justice determined three years ago that jailhouses in Amherst and Antigonish are sub-par and in dire need of replacement. After three years of progress, an announcement was made in April that Springhill would become home to one of those two new jails but the NDP government scrapped the deal after getting into office, toeing the line that they will pursue the best business plan.
"What concerns me is when you consider business plans, I can justify building one jail a lot easier than two," Dill said.
One corrections employee, who requested anonymity, says speculation is the NDP is considering a super jail to replace both the Cumberland County and Antigonish facilities. If a super jail were to be built a mutual distance between the two existing jails, its location could conceivably be smack dab in the middle of Justice Minister Ross Landry's Pictou riding.
Regardless, the potential loss of the jail to Springhill, Dill says, could be devastating.
"The province has a responsibility to rural communities to be sustainable," Dill said. "We cannot compete with large, urban centres. When all the resources are drawn to urban centres smaller municipalities rely to heavily on the province."
Dill says he's confident Premier Dexter will keep his promise to honour Tory promises made during the election.
"We do have a better business plan. Not only for Springhill but Cumberland County and all of Nova Scotia."

Organizations: NDP

Geographic location: Antigonish, Cumberland County, Amherst Pictou Nova Scotia

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