Cumberland County has approved in principle studies related to the proposed amalgamation with Springhill.
OXFORD – Another step has been taken toward formalizing the proposed merger between Cumberland County and Springhill.
Cumberland County approved in principle a series of studies dealing with its amalgamation with Springhill during a special council meeting in Oxford on Monday and will submit them to solicitor Rob Grant for final editing before they are provided to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for its Thursday filing deadline.
“The reports will be made public after they are submitted to the utility and review board,” county CAO Rennie Bugley said following Monday’s special meeting. “Once the utility and review board has them, they will be posting them on their website for everyone to see.”
Bugley said the studies deal with everything from the long-term impact on solid waste collection to water and wastewater infrastructure, policing and fire services, social services like recreation, bylaws and planning services, streetlighting, governance, roads and streets, service delivery and financial services, human resources and the transfer of assets and liabilities.
Bugley said the public will be able to read each of the reports and comment and as an intervenor, the Springhill concerned citizens committee will be able to cross-examine the reports during public hearings in mid-December.
The concerned citizens committee is completing its own studies on the proposed amalgamation.
Transition co-ordinator John Leefe said approving the studies in principle is a big step in the process.
“The studies are pretty straight forward and will move us away from speculation to fact, which is what everyone wants and is one of the things the citizens committee has spoken to. They want the facts and these reports will provide them with the kind of information they and others would want to see,” he said. “If they have more information requests we’ll be working feverously to respond in a timely fashion.”
Leefe said all the proponents’ information reports will be filed before the close of business on Thursday. He expects some of them will be on the UARB website by Friday, but with the long weekend some of them may not make it up until Tuesday.
The transition co-ordinator said there is still a lot of work to be done in the process. The door is still open to the intervenors to file information requests, he said. The deadline for those is Sept. 15 with Sept. 25 being the deadline for the answers to be filed to the utility and review board.
“It’s a very busy period. There are approximately 12 pages of information requests that have been filed by the citizens committee and those will be among the ones that will be answered by that September deadline,” Leefe said.
Oct. 16 is the deadline for intervenors to file evidence to the utility and review board, while board consultants’ evidence has to be filed by Oct. 23 and there’s an opportunity for supplementary requests to be filed by Nov. 6 and responded to by Nov. 20.
The public hearings are scheduled for Dec. 16 to 18.
Springhill applied to the utility and review board several months ago to dissolve itself as a town and join the Municipality of Cumberland on April 1, 2015.