No date yet for Parrsboro petition presentation

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Blenkhorn wants evening meeting, larger venue

PARRSBORO – More than a month after Stanford Blenkhorn held a public meeting to collect signatures for a petition on Parrsboro’s future governance, how and when that petition will be presented to town council has yet to be agreed upon.

Blenkhorn, a former mayor and business operator in Parrsboro, has been corresponding with town CAO Ray Hickey on the matter, but the two parties have so far failed to agree on a date or a format.

“It is abundantly clear the mayor and council of Parrsboro are doing everything in their power to not receive the residents’ petition re: having a governance study done for the community of Parrsboro,” said Blenkhorn, in a letter submitted to The Citizen-Record. “Why would anyone not want to explore the best and most cost-efficient method to deliver the level of services we have in Parrsboro now?”

Blenkhorn held a public meeting at the Parrsboro Fire Hall on April 21, in which he circulated a petition asking those present whether or not they agreed town council should proceed with having a study conducted on options for the town’s future governance. According to Blenkhorn, the study would cost the town $25,000, and would examine four different options: giving up town status and adopting village status; dissolving as a town and becoming part of Cumberland County municipality; amalgamation with Cumberland County municipality; or the status quo option of remaining as a town.

Of the 104 people who attended the meeting, 73 signed the petition, with 66 in favour of a governance study and six opposed.

Blenkhorn emailed Hickey on April 23 to propose May 9 or May 12 as possible dates for a meeting to present the petition. Hickey said he could not get council together for those dates, but he proposed either May 13, 20 or 27. He also told Blenkhorn that he could drop the petition off at town hall at any time, and that Hickey could present it to council at its May 27 session.

The two then seemed to agree on May 29 as a suitable date, but talks broke down when Blenkhorn rejected the idea of having the meeting at 10 a.m. at town hall, as he felt it would limit the number of residents that could attend.

Venue should not be an issue, deputy mayor Lisa Ward argued, during council’s May 27 meeting.

“He’s presenting us with a petition. It’s not like we’re going to be discussing the petition right then and there,” she said. “It’s something we will look at and review during a committee-of-the-whole meeting. We’re willing to accept that, and if he wanted to sit with us and talk, we did say 10 a.m. on May 29.”

The mayor did not hide her feelings on the petition, and how she would receive it when it does reach the council table. She said she does not believe the town needs to spend $25,000 on a study to tell it to give up its status.

“My personal opinion is that we have a job to do, and we have two more years to do it,” said Smith. “This council was voted in by the people of Parrsboro, and, I would assume, will continue our mandate until the next election.”

awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: The Citizen-Record, Parrsboro Fire Hall

Geographic location: Parrsboro, Cumberland County

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