Government action needed on municipal amalgamation

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Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely

The municipal dominoes are starting to fall.  The Town of Springhill was first to drop as it announced late last month that it would seek to be dissolved and amalgamated with the Municipality of Cumberland County.  The Town of Bridgetown followed suit a couple of weeks later, and recently the Town of Hantsport has announced it too will begin the process of looking toward dissolution.

Three towns within the period of one month should sound the alarm to the provincial government. 

The minister responsible, Mark Furey, has indicated he is willing to let the process take its course and he will not force any amalgamations on other towns which might be struggling financially. In addition, Furey has announced that the provincial government will not cost share a governance study for the five municipal units within Pictou County, despite their willingness to look at new options of operation.

The minister is clearly on the wrong side of this issue. Rather than vetoing the governance study in Pictou County, he should be fully funding it and insisting upon similar studies in other jurisdictions with multiple municipalities in close proximity.  It is the only fiscally prudent thing to do.

The McNeil government is committed to consolidation of the many regional health authorities in the province because they recognize it is simply not effective from either a cost basis or an operational basis to keep things as they are.  They should now take this same understanding forward and commit to a reduction of the municipal units within the province.  The status quo is simply too expensive and unworkable.

The provincial government created all these towns by legislation 125 years ago.  Now it is time to take legislative action again and create new, efficient and effective municipal units that can truly provide the services our citizens need.

The beauty of dominoes is when the tiles fall in a fluid, graceful manner to create a new pattern.  Not here and there in a scattered way, but in a graceful, controlled manner. 

Three dominoes have already falllen. There is still time for government to reset the game. 

           

Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

Organizations: Area Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Pictou County, Cumberland County, Bridgetown Hantsport

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  • Colin Martin
    April 22, 2014 - 22:40

    Well written Frank. These small towns cannot survive on their own. High taxes and no tax base calls for disaster. In Springhill, if both residential and business taxes were reduced and the roads fixed, I am sure that more people would move here. We have a deficit of 5.1 million dollars plus $800,000.00 overdraft. There is interest on these loans and it is accumulating, so Murray and his rogue group should stop from putting us further in debt. A petition will serve nothing, because there are 30 to 40% seniors that won't want to get involved, because they have to live here and face those that disagree with them. Let the Province and the County do their best to make us a Community.