Speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club, the Cumberland County warden said regional government will happen sometime in the future, but he’s not sure when.
“I’ve been in municipal politics since 1991 and it’s been my wish ever since I started that we have one regional government in Cumberland County,” the warden told Rotarians. “We have 33,000 people and 34 municipal politicians. I have a friend in Halifax who has a district in HRM and he has 80,000 district in just one district. Here we have 34 serving 33,000 people. It just doesn’t make sense.”
While Hunter’s views have not those of his council in years past, the county and other municipal units in the area are beginning to move toward more co-operation. The county and Springhill are set to become one municipality on April 1 after the town applied successfully for dissolution, while Amherst and the county are sharing their finance department’s and are sharing their community and economic development offices as well as a procurement officer.
The warden said he’d like to see Oxford and Parrsboro come on board in the service-sharing arrangement because it saves everyone important taxpayer dollars.
“Up until recently, whenever we tried to do something regionally we always had five municipalities to deal with. Everyone would go to their council and make a decision and then come back to one table and try to agree, and I say try because that’s as far as it went. A lot of the projects we tried to do regionally got scuttled because we couldn’t come to an agreement,” Hunter said. “If we had one council table more would get done because you’d have a vote and it would either pass or it wouldn’t. I think more than likely you’d see progress and it would streamline things a lot better.”
Hunter said attitudes are beginning to change across the county. He said a lot of initiatives are including multiple municipalities and he said there’s plenty of potential for more.
The warden said there is lots of activity in the county with the municipality working toward bringing a municipal water supply to Pugwash residents. The project will take a number of years to complete and could cost up to $10 million.
The county is also working with Amherst to bring town water to Maccan, while the wastewater treatment facility in Maccan was completed last year, stopping the dumping of raw sewage into the Maccan River.
The warden said the county is also working with Amherst and other municipal partners across northern Nova Scotia to put together a new regional enterprise network. While some municipalities, including Pictou, Truro, Colchester and East Hants, have expressed interested in joining the regional REN, the warden said Amherst and Cumberland County are prepared to go alone if necessary.