I, like most residents of Springhill, was shocked to hear the recent decision by Springhill’s mayor and council to apply to the province for dissolution.
This act of dissolution changes our status from an incorporated town to becoming a community under the governance of the Municipality of Cumberland.
Let me begin by saying that it is never easy to govern, especially when money is always a major factor. However, after speaking with many local residents and listening to their comments, I am convinced that the process chosen here was and is not the way to proceed. There is a misconception that it is already too late. That is not the case. There is still time to engage the community and its citizens in the process.
Canso is an example of a community which took time to inform its citizens of their situation. Options were explored and information was made public. Citizens were given opportunities for discussion and thus were fully prepared to make an informed decision when the plebiscite was given. Their mayor and council had chosen transparency and that resulted in the majority choosing the act of dissolution.
Bridgetown, as we know, is facing the same challenges. However, their mayor has been quoted as saying that they will not proceed in the manner that Springhill has chosen.
The issue of timing is very important. Why are we rushing to dissolve our town when we have neither had all of the facts presented to us, nor had an opportunity to work through the process.
We know that we have high taxes and that we are faced with financial challenges by there is so much more which we do not know.
If our financial situation is as bleak as has been stated, then show us the facts and give us all the information which the mayor and council have been privy. Does this not make sense?
Have other option s been explored? Was there dialogue with the other units in Cumberland County o see if services could be shared? Was the provincial government approached to explore options or opportunities. Was the advice or expertise sought from other knowledgeable resources? If these questions were posed then what were the results? Do we not deserve to know the answers?
It has been suggested that the benefits to dissolution will mean lower taxes but what about the disadvantages? The citizens of Springhill need time to discuss all aspects, both benefits and disadvantages, so that there will not be unexpected surprises.
I fear there will be a far greater job loss than many suspect. The dissolution will have a trickledown effect. The pink slips have begun to appear. What other town employees will be next? No position can be considered safe.
What will the future be for All Saints Hospital? Previous mayors and councils, along with the citizens of Springhill, have banded together with the Cumberland District Health Authority to protect and expand services provided at All Saints. As District Health Authorities are eliminated, and with the proposal for dissolution, who will work to maintain a hospital here in Springhill? Have these jobs been factored into the equation?
The list of other services, that we enjoy in Springhill, may possibly be in jeopardy as well. What will be in store for the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre or our Senior Citizen’s Centre?
As citizens of the Town of Springhill we have the right to know what the results of the act of dissolution will be prior to the dissolution. Our future should not be marked with so many unknowns. We need to be given the opportunity to know everything was tried before the town was dissolved and we can’t be assured of that if we have not been involved in the process.
We are only asking for the same opportunities as the citizens of Canso. After we have been presented with all the facts, we must be given the right to have a plebiscite. We, the people, have a right to decide our future. If the citizens decide that dissolution is the route that Springhill should take, then so be it.
It is not too late. The mayor and council must act in the interests of all citizens and notify the province that it is postponing the application for dissolution immediately. The process must include citizen involvement. A committee chosen by the citizens must be given the mandate which would include searching out all possible options, calling upon qualified individuals when necessary to assist, and keeping residents informed of the process. The final action must be a plebiscite.
Is this not what democracy means?
A Springhill taxpayer