Former Parrsboro mayor and longtime businessperson Stanford Blenkhorn introduced a petition at a public a meeting at the Parrsboro Fire Hall on April 21, asking residents if they favour a study on the governance of the community.
PARRSBORO – The future of this town and how it is governed were the subject of a public meeting at the Parrsboro Fire Hall on Monday night, with a large crowd turning out to hear the ideas of a former mayor and business person of the town.
Stanford Blenkhorn presented a petition that asks Parrsboro residents whether or not the town should engage in a study on how it is governed in the future. The petition, which asks residents to sign their names and mark either a “yes” or a “no” to the question, was circulated through the crowd of about 100 people present, and will be carried door-to-door by Blenkhorn over the coming weeks.
“The most important thing facing our community now, is how do we go into the future,” he said. “I’m not sold on the idea of becoming a village, but I am sold on something that makes it better for our community.”
A governance study, according to Blenkhorn, would look at four different options for Parrsboro: status quo (remaining a town); becoming a village; amalgamating with the municipality of Cumberland County; and dissolution. He said the study would cost $30-50,000, half of which would be paid for by Parrsboro, the other half by the provincial government.
Each of the governance models would be studied at the town’s current level of services, according to Blenkhorn.
“The simple question is this, ‘Would you like to look at the best way to govern our community? Yes or no?’” he said. “How could any person not want to explore the best way to govern our community and deliver services in the most cost-efficient way?”
The event brought forth plenty of lively discussion from the crowd, many comments focusing on how the different governing models would affect tax rates and services. Blenkhorn did not pretend to have all the answers, thereby furthering his case for a study.
People also questioned his motives behind calling the meeting, which he explained came from his own concerns and from other residents he has spoken to about increasing costs, shrinking population and decreasing tax revenues.
“People say to me we should be a village instead of a town; I say, ‘How do you know that?’” he said. “I can’t say we should be a village. What I can say is we should be smart enough to do a study to ensure whet we’re doing is right.”
He said he should not have been put in the position to call the meeting, but rather town council should have done so, and would have received a larger turnout if they had done so.
While Mayor Lois Smith did not attend the meeting, three of the four town councillors did: deputy mayor Lisa Ward and councillors Rob Fancy and Ron Shaw. Blenkhorn acknowledged them for taking part, and Ward was equally cordial, even offering suggestions on how to get the petition to as many residents as possible.
“People elect us to do our best in the interests of the people,” she said. “We pay taxes too, and will do whatever is best for the taxpayers. We thought Stanford might have other information to share, and that’s why we’re here this evening. We’re here for the taxpayers, and that’s why we’re elected.”
The process forward, as explained by Blenkhorn, will see a photocopy of the petition presented to the mayor or town CAO with the request for a date to formally present the original petition to council for action. Council would then set a date to receive the petition, at which time they could respond, or set a date to respond.
Of the 104 people who attended the meeting, 73 signed the petition, with 66 in favour of a governance study and six opposed.