Cumberland County willing to work with Springhill during transition

Warden says Springhill's situation not unlike others in Nova Scotia

Darrell Cole webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on March 4, 2014
Warden Keith Hunter says his municipality is willing to work with Springhill and Service Nova Scotia during the town's transition to become part of the county.

Warden Keith Hunter says his municipality is willing to work with Springhill during the town's transition to become part of the county.

UPPER NAPPAN – Cumberland County is prepared to work with the Town of Springhill and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for a smooth transition of the town into the municipality.

Springhill council passed a motion at a special meeting Tuesday to apply to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to start the process to dissolve the town by April 1, 2015.

If successful, the town would become part of the Municipality of Cumberland.

“At the end of the day it’s all about the residents of that community, providing the services and making the transition as smoothly as possible,” Warden Keith Hunter said Tuesday night.

The warden said it was no secret that Springhill’s financial situation was perilous and he knew the town was considering it options. He said representatives from Springhill met with the county a couple of weeks ago to collect information on what would happen if the town became part of the county.

Hunter said Springhill would become like any other community in the municipality in that it would have elected representatives on municipal council and its water, sewer and other services would be covered by area rates.

The same would be true of policing, fire and recreation services and while there’s still a lot of work to be done he is very doubtful town staff would lose their jobs. However, he cautioned, there is a lot of discussion with Service Nova Scotia and Springhill required and the utility and review board would have to issue an order on several things including how many councilors the community would have.

Hunter said Springhill’s situation is not unique.

“Springhill is not alone in this situation and there are at least eight to 10 others in the province that are also in financial trouble,” said Hunter, who also serves on the board for the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. “I doubt they’ll be the last you’ll see facing this situation and you’ll likely see others follow in the next year or two.”

Amherst Mayor Robert Small said his town is sympathetic to the plight of Springhill as it works through issues that are very common to many towns in Nova Scotia.

“All towns in Nova Scotia are feeling the squeeze as the combination of rising costs, declining demographics and the challenge of providing more services and continuing to provide existing services begins to take hold in our province. Some towns are feeling the pressure earlier and in a much more severe fashion than others,” Small said.

Small said Amherst has been providing assistance to Springhill over the past few months by making its CAO Greg Herrett available to consult with Springhill council and senior staff on an as needed basis.

“We’ll continue to support them however we can through the next few months as they continue to provide services to their citizens through the transition,” Small said.