Springhill citizens rally against dissolution process

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL – The citizens of Springhill are not happy with town hall’s decision to dissolve and took action Thursday night to turn their displeasure into action.

Town of Springhill

A group of concerned citizens lead by former MLA Murray Scott called for a public meeting at the town-owned community centre, inviting taxpayers to join them and raise their concerns about Mayor Max Snow and council’s decision to announce the dissolution of the town in March. Chief among their concerns was the lack of public consultation and the financial documentation used to determine dissolution as the best course for the community, and their sentiment was shared not only by fellow Springhill ratepayers, but residents under the umbrella of the Municipality of Cumberland County.

“I’ve seen the democratic process diminish in government on so many levels, but this one takes the cake,” Brookdale resident and former area MP Bill Casey said. “This is a simple problem where the expenses were too high and maybe the revenues were too low… they [the Town of Springhill] might think they were doing the right thing, but it sure doesn’t seem like the democratic process.”

Legally, the Town of Springhill was not required to hold consultations or a plebiscite with the public before making the decision to make application to dissolve the town with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Now the town and the municipality are working with a transition coordinator to determine how Springhill will be governed under a new form of government beginning April 2015.

“We have governed ourselves up to now. Why, now, are we inferior?” citizen Howard Spence said.

A general consensus began to form with the crowd of 300-plus citizens that if they were given the financial information the town used to decide to dissolve other options could have been presented or explored.

“It’s seem the town has thrown their hands up and said the town can’t be saved  whereas everyone here is willing to put their shoulders to the grindstone,” John Mont, whose late father Bill Mont was one of the town’s longest serving mayors before retiring from politics in 2004.

“Is it too late to turn this around?” business owner Dan MacMillan asked. “I think we can get together and see what we can do to keep this place alive.”

In order to take that step, however, the citizens need the town’s financials, which hasn’t happened. Mayor and Council agreed to hold a public meeting to provide more information on the decision to dissolve the town, but not until May 15. That announcement was made after the concerned citizens announced their meeting for May 1st.

With the agreement of the audience in attendance, the 12-member concerned  citizens group was given the audience’s assention to act as a formal body and apply for intervener status at the NSUARB hearing on the town’s dissolution. As of Wednesday, Murray Scott said, the NSUARB says it has yet to receive that application.

“We’ll continue to meet with mayor and council before then and keep asking for the information we need,” Murray Scott said. “We don’t want to create a rift. We just want the opportunity to do what’s right for Springhill.”

Audience members signed declarations they agree with the committee proceeding on their behalf, and from there the forms will be distributed throughout the community for more to sign. Moreover, Scott said, anyone who wants to be a member of the committee is encouraged to join, especially those with experience in law and accounting.

The Town of Springhill will hold its public meeting on May 15 at the same community centre and all who attended the concerned citizens were encourage to show up in the same numbers.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Springhill, Cumberland County, Brookdale

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Recent comments

  • Realistic
    May 05, 2014 - 06:52

    SOB, whatever point you may have is lost in your ranting - no matter how valid whatever that point is might be. Rational discussion > emotional diatribes.

    • SOB
      May 05, 2014 - 17:15

      Desperate times call for desperate measures, and you want me to be rational? Listening to Vladimir Casey spew off about how this democratic process takes the cake is irrational. Listen to Mont talk about putting our shoulders to the grindstone. What grindstone? Where is it? I’ll be the first in line. Is he being rational? It seems to me this group is interested in appealing to peoples emotions by stirring up hate for the current Springhill administration, then joining hands and singing Kumbaya. Hatred and love won’t make my taxes go down. I’ll tell you something. A majority of the people who work at the Springhill prison live elsewhere. They pay taxes in the county, they pay taxes in Amherst and they pay taxes in Truro and Moncton. Why? Because they say the taxes in Springhill is too high and say Springhill is a dump. I’ve talked to them and that’s what they say. Kudos to those who work at the prison who choose to live in Springhill. They didn’t have to live here. People said, why do you want to pay those taxes and why do you want to live in a dump with the worst roads in the province but they still bought a house in Springhill. There should be an incentive program for people who work at the prison to buy a home in Springhill, or maybe people who actually live in Springhill should get preferential treatment upon the hiring of new staff. The town is dying and I don’t want to go down with the ship while the old guard protects their turf, especially the ones who don’t even pay taxes in Springhill. How many Springhill cops actually pay taxes in Springhill? That’s another statistic I’d like to have. I know some do but what about the others?

  • John Fisher
    May 03, 2014 - 14:37

    SOB, perhaps it was you that did not get the memo. Murray Scott was a cabinet minister as well as speaker of the house. Bill Casey stood up for the concerns of the constituents. He had the nerve to stand up to the Prime Minister. It seems you are more interested in slander of these two men than you are the real issue which is the town of Springhill. It takes a small person to hide behind a keyboard. What does SOB stand for? Why not use your real name so everyone reading your posts will know who you are? Right now you're presenting yourself as nothing more than a bully with a personal agenda.

    • SOB
      May 04, 2014 - 13:21

      Yes, Scott was a cabinet minister. Who cares, and Casey cried and ran home with his marbles because he wasn’t made party whip, who cares. The fact is that they both won the lottery. They both get gold plated pensions and are set for life. They never have to worry about high taxes and they never have to worry about home assessment prices for as long as they live. Me, I fear hiring a painter to paint my house because the assessment on my house will increase. I also fear the three-headed hydra known as Scott, Casey and the Springhill cops. They’re using their names and their power to destroy the democratic process. Their goal is nothing less than the overthrow of the elected mayor Max Snow, a former minister at the Salvation Army, a man who fed, clothed and cleaned the poor but who in the eyes of the former cop and car salesman is stupid. The three-headed hydra is going to to save the Springhill cops and nothing will stand in their way. They don’t care whose reputation they have to destroy. When the numbers come out regarding the town debt, no matter what those numbers reveal, they will mean nothing to the three-headed hydra. They will use those numbers, no matter how damning they are to the cops and town employees, to destroy current-day elected officials. As far as using my real name is concerned, you’ve got to be kidding. I have a family and a house to protect. I don’t even like posting a comment on this site for fear the three-headed hydra will hack into the computer main frame, find out who I am, and destroy me. Also, have you ever been to a news site where people are forced to use their real names? No comments. Go to the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star or the CBC. The reason they have thousands of comments on any given story is because they allow anonymous comments. To think someone will use their own name to take on the three-headed hydra is pure lunacy.

  • Rob
    May 03, 2014 - 08:21

    I hope this conservative group is not giving people false hope. I love my town and pay my taxes but wake up people. The federal government wants the east coast to fail. Successive provincial governments have taken from rural N.S. and given to centers with more votes. We maybe able to delay this until after the next provincial election, but without more tax revenue the same thing is going to happen. I don't blame any one group for our debt, that's unfair. For every bad story about our local police or public works I can tell you two good ones. But we must adapt to the challenges that face us as a community with no tax revenues and also work twice as hard to get half as much if we want to succeed. Are we prepared for that. Are we prepared to tell everyone who does not pay their taxes "shape up or ship out". And last, if two CAO's a mayor and council that have applied to dissolve our town have done so using financial information that is wrong according to the leaders of this concerned citizens group, then the mayor and everyone else must be removed from their positions.. are Murray and friends going to step into this void.

  • John Fisher
    John Fisher
    May 02, 2014 - 11:54

    Wow, little harsh there SOB. I can't see any reason why someone would compare Bill Casey and Murry Scott to a communist dictator. Obviously you're not a fan of either of these men but that just doesn't make any sense. I don't believe it was the responsibility of either of these men to save Springhill while they were in office. When something positive happens to a town while there MP or MLA is in power, the rest of the province screams patronage. Springhill did exactly that concerning the new jail they felt should be built in their town. I don't think anyone can really make a stand until all the ducks are lined up for everyone to see. This means total transparency on behalf of the council and Mayor. If council and the Mayor are elected to represent the citizens, should they not listen to and provide information to those citizens? I believe that would be the democratic process. I'm not making a stand either way on this topic because not enough is known yet. I will say this though, Springhill is about to celebrate 125 years of being a town and that is something to be proud of. To do this they have survived two wars, three mine disasters and most of Main Street burning to the ground twice. Springhiller's are fighters by nature and if there is a way to save the town, it will happen in due course. Name calling isn't going to solve anything.

    • SOB
      May 03, 2014 - 08:30

      The only thing Scott and Casey are taking a stand for is the status quo and the status quo won’t do any longer. Springhill isn’t what it was 50 or 100 years ago. Didn’t Scott and Casey get the memo? It’s called the Ivany Report and it says small-town Nova Scotia is dying, so unless Casey and Scott have solutions they should either put up or shut up. The other thing that bugs me about these two is that everybody licks the boots they walk in, treating them like saviours, like their Jesus Christ or something, especially Casey. Scott is a glorified cop and Casey is a glorified car salesman. Casey went up against Stephen Harper to try to preserve the status quo and now he’s treated like a hero. The real reason Casey took his marbles and went home crying was because Harper didn’t make him party whip. Now people say he's some sort of modern-day folk hero, and Casey actually believes it.

  • John Alderson
    May 02, 2014 - 09:03

    I always find it interesting that when people respond to the media and don't use their real name, either they know how to solve everything or are critical of those who are trying to solve something. LOL

    • Doug.P
      May 02, 2014 - 11:13

      Many problems solve themselves If interventionist busybodies would control their impulsive tendencies to somehow stop these solutions from being brought about on their own. When one is in debt beyond any chance of repayment you tell the creditors immediately, you don't hide it or pass the debt on to others. The Town has no way to pay off its debts and it must lower taxes to restart its economy. The politicians are simply whipping up angry mobs to prevent both of these needed things. If one looks closely any political "solution" is simply doing more of what lead to disaster in the first place.

    • gary brown
      May 02, 2014 - 12:03

      Should not be able to comment without using own name !

    • SOB
      May 03, 2014 - 08:59

      The reason I don’t leave my name Mr. Alderson is because there are two class of people in Springhill. There are the insiders and there are the pee-ons and never the twain shall meet. Me, I’m a pee-on and I don’t need the insiders, the cops, the politicians, etc., to pee on me any more than they already have. That’s exactly what would happen if I left my name. What this whole town dissolution argument comes down to is one thing - revenge. The working class, the people in this town who have actually gotten their hands dirty in life and who have paid their taxes, want the old Springhill guard - the insiders, the ones who think they’re too clever but, none-the-less, got us into this mess - we want them to be swept away. We want all that entitlement swept away. With all this said, the only person courageous enough to attach his name to his comments on this news site is Ralph, and we all know who Ralph is. The insiders can’t squash him like they would squash me. Plus he’s blue collar, so he knows the score. Also, somebody should take a poll of the working class in Springhill and see what they think of dissolution. Go to the floor at Ropak or go to the floor at Surrette’s and ask them. Most of the workers there would say, ‘It’s time for dissolution. Let’s Get r Done.” I’ll close by saying good riddance to the entitled insiders, the ones who have never done an honest day of physical labour in their entire life, yet think they’re better and smarter than the rest of us. They won’t be missed.

  • Doug.P
    May 02, 2014 - 08:37

    Are any of these concerned 300 citizens willing to cut a check for $16, 600 each? That would pay off almost all the debt...Are any of these people willing to "shoulder" that? These people are in the shock and denial phase of the grieving process. They will come to accept reality in time.

  • Realistic
    May 02, 2014 - 07:00

    First thing the committee should come up with if they come up with some proposals, is how to get their fellow residents who don't think they should have to pay taxes, to pay their taxes. Problem No.1, that's been going one for years & multiple councils have not been able to fix. Good luck with that one alone.

    • Doug.P
      May 02, 2014 - 10:22

      When the price of something is outrageously high people tend to stop buying it. "Services" provided through taxation is no exemption from this fact. Stop wasting peoples time by clinging to the past; default on the debt and lower the citizens taxes because its the right thing to do. All the other nonsense surrounding this issue is nothing more than corrupted officials and their lackeys trying to get back what they destroyed.

  • SOB
    May 01, 2014 - 22:13

    So I see Saint Scott has brought Saint Casey into the process. As the Church Lady says: "Isn't that Special." It's hilarious how Casey talks about the diminishment of the democratic process, when he and Scott, although they don't have one measly vote behind them, have suddenly declared themselves the mayors of Springhill. They didn't save Springhill when they were elected and they're not going to save it now. Are Vladimir Scott and Vladimir Casey going to pay the debt? Are they going to pay for the cops who suddenly, out of nowhere, suddenly seem interested in protecting and serving the public after 50 years of protecting nothing but their own interest? Why didn't Casey and Scott get the debt paid off when they were on top of the political heap, one in Ottawa and one in Halifax?

  • Silas
    May 01, 2014 - 20:58

    Isn't it funny how Springhill council has decided to dissolve and a citizens group is against it and in Parrsboro the council is against dissolving and a citizens group is pushing for it? You can't please all of the people all of the time.