Its a done deal

Staff ~ The Record
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By Christopher Gooding and Darrell Cole
The Record
SPRINGHILL - Discussions between the county's municipal leaders and the province came to a stalemate last week, with the province making itsel very clear a new jail will not be built in Cumberland County.
The meeting between Premier Darrell Dexter, Justice Minister Ross Landry and the mayors and warden was another step in the drawn out plight to reverse the province's decision to not build a new jail in Springhill that will replace the aging facility in Amherst.
After taking power, the NDP government scrapped the Tory plan to have the jail built in this former mining community, choosing instead to build one jail in the Colchester-Pictou area to replace jails in Amherst and Antigonish.
The province, it seems, will not sway, Springhill Mayor Allen Dill said following the meeting, but units will aren't ready to surrender.
"I have great difficulty believing it's best for Nova Scotia," Dill said.
Scrapping the construction of the jail is an issue that will affect all of Cumberland County and Dill says the government's decision will be a blow to the area, which he expects the economic impact study currently being conducted by the Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association will corroborate.
Dill, the mayors and warden from Cumberland County have challenged the government to hand over its statistical data for making its decision, to which the government has refused saying it could prompt land speculations for the 150-cell super jail.
The decision has proven a growing experience for the region, creating solidarity between the municipal units whereas when the announcement to build the jail in Springhill first tore them apart. Dill was accompanied by Amherst Mayor Robert Small, Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith, Mayor Lloyd Jenkins from Oxford and Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter meeting Dexter and Landry last Tuesday. Dill's impressions were echoed by his colleagues.
"I think he (the premier) hears us, but in terms of his government's decision it's a done deal," Amherst Mayor Small said. "That doesn't mean the fight is over, but we do need some ammunition we can use. We're hoping we'll get that in the economic impact study we're doing."
As much as the premier and the minister have explained the province's position, saying the decision was based on the needs of the justice system and the province's fiscal situation, Small said it's still difficult for the municipal leaders here to accept it when they can't see the facts and figures that form the framework for the province's decision.
Darrell Dexter's NDP government has been persistently dogged by its decision to scrap the jail after taking power. Dropping $18 million from its first budget, the NDP went on the offensive saying that little of that money was for the jail, while the Tories dug up copies of their defeated budget showing $6 million towards the jail's construction was allocated for 2009-2010 and another $12 million earmarked for 2010-2011.
Former Cumberland South NDP candidate Don Tabor resigned as the NDP's area association president in protest of the government's decision. Later, Dexter told news media there was never a firm agreement from the previous government to build the jail in Springhill but a copy of the deed transfer for town-owned land handed over to the province in March of last year clearly stated the land was for the building of a jail.

Organizations: NDP, Tory, Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association

Geographic location: SPRINGHILL, Cumberland County, Amherst Colchester-Pictou Antigonish Nova Scotia Parrsboro Oxford

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