Citizens adding numbers to Springhill economic development

Tory heavyweights to lead citizens group

Christopher Gooding cgooding@citizenrecord.ca
Published on May 8, 2014

Former MP and Cumberland County resident Bill Casey added his voice to the number of citizens concerned by the Town of Springhill’s decision to dissolve at a public meeting on May 1st. This week it was announced Casey will co-chair a citizens group seeking economic developments for Springhill to increase its tax-base.

Christopher Gooding photo

SPRINGHILL – Armed with the energy from a public meeting over the town’s dissolution last week, a group of volunteers are now looking for economic developments for Springhill.

Heading up the group is former Tory MP Bill Casey and Cumberland South Progressive Conservative Riding Association President Doug Marshall.

In a press release Thursday, the group says their goal is to identify potential businesses, which might bring investments, and a higher tax base for the town, which announced it would dissolve in March in the face of a $5.1 million long-term debt.

“This initiative is meant to be a positive addition to efforts to increase the tax base and tax revenues for the town,” Marshall said. “Any positive progress will be reported immediately to the Town of Springhill to help them and their decisions going forward. The group believes that if tax revenue can be increased it could reduce the urgency to amalgamate with the county.”

More than 300 citizens attended public meeting headed up by a concerned citizens group to address the town’s dissolution, which came as a shock to the public because there was no public consultation or plebiscite leading up to the announcement. According to the provincial Municipal Government Act, town council was not obligated to hold public consultation in making its decision. The Town of Springhill is holding it’s own public meeting to explain its financial situation and the decision to dissolve next Thursday, May 15, at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre.

When reached for comment on the group and its efforts, Mayor Max Snow said he was unaware of the group.

“I’m not going to comment on that. That’s for May 15th,” Snow said.

Presently, the economic development group is inventorying the community’s natural resources, human resources and strengths. Then, an effort will be made to recognize potential businesses and industries that could benefit from these strengths and abilities that are already present in Springhill. The committee will also create a list of former residents of Springhill who may be interested in returning and bringing small or medium-size businesses with them.

The group highlighted the distinctive mining history of the Town of Springhill as well as the Anne Murray Center as very unique assets for the town.

Marshall encourages anyone with an idea or proposal on how to attract people, business or investment to Springhill to contact him at 597-3464.

Casey and Marshall are not the only high profile Tories taking on leading roles in challenging the Town of Springhill’s decision to dissolve and seeking alternatives. Former Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott has taken a leading role leading a concerned citizens committee, which the attending audience at the May 1st public meeting encouraged to seek official intervener status when the town makes its application with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to dissolve.

Progressive Conservative leader and current MLA for Cumberland South, now serving his second term as the local representative, Jamie Baillie has come out as a supporter for financially strapped communities in the province to explore dissolution, but during last week’s concerned citizens meeting said the process in Springhill has been marred by the lack of consultation and information, and will seek changes to the Municipal Government Act to include public consultation to the municipal dissolution process in the future.

“I’ve had as many concerned citizens from the county ask what’s happening in Springhill as I have from people in Springhill,” Baillie said at that meeting.

Email: christopher.gooding@tc.tc

Twitter: ADNchris