Status quo and other myths

Published on April 15, 2016

To the Editor,

I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

The cheque’s in the mail.

No new taxes.

Shared services.

Status quo.

The status quo is a myth: Nothing stays the same. The only question is whether you study the change, lead the change, fight the change or just get swept up in the change. It really doesn't matter how much you like or loath change, it does not require your permission or participation. Will you be a follower, a leader or complainer?

Amherst is not the same today as it was four years ago and it will be significantly different in another four years. If we keep on the same path the population will be older, taxes will be higher. Following this trend, there will be fewer people and even fewer young people. Amherst and the rest of Cumberland County can trudge along for the next 10 years just as we have for the past 10 years.

That is as long as we don't get a major change thrust upon us. Perhaps a major employer seeks greener pastures or maybe it is just a death by 1,000 cuts.

With fewer people and less revenue, things will change. Change does not require permission. Amherst will change - for the better or for the worse.

One of the most substantial changes which has been thrust upon us is the loss of the Amherst correctional facility. During my first term on council, this was the first significant issue. The NDP government of the day determined it was in the best interest of all Nova Scotians to move those jobs and bunch more to the riding of their justice minister.

We don't get a do over, so it is only speculation about what Amherst and Cumberland County would look like today if the new facility had been constructed in Springhill and the 80 plus good paying jobs were located here and not in Pictou County. It is also only speculation that the result would have been different if Cumberland County had been able to speak with a united voice from the very beginning.

Things changed, despite the fact that the people of Cumberland County did not want it!

Shared services is another myth which has been around for decades. While Amherst and the Cumberland County have had some success with shared services with the regional landfill, and fire services to a lesser a degree, any significant sharing of services for the benefit of all has remained elusive.

Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars and person hours has been spent on this myth over the past number of decades, it remains an elusive topic of continued study, consultant fees and in-camera discussion.

Meanwhile, other things have changed. Our population is smaller, and it is also older. There are fewer young people here than there used to be, and we can no longer shop at Dayle’s, Shoppers Drug Mart and McCully Market. Our homes aren't worth what they used to be and countless people have left Cumberland County. One other thing that has changed is your property tax bill. Things change.

Oct. 15th is municipal election day in Nova Scotia. This may very well be the last chance for the good people of Cumberland County to have a real say in what happens to us over the next four years. In my opinion, we can either board the regionalization bus, or it will hit us and the driver will be from Halifax.

Robert Bird, Amherst