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Health care, schools, environment among issues for Cumberland South voters

Byelection called for June 19 in Cumberland South

OXFORD – Now that voters know when they go to the polls in Cumberland South, it will be up to the candidates to sway their opinions.

A year after re-electing Jamie Baillie as their MLA, Cumberland South will be the site of a byelection on Tuesday, June 19 to replace the former PC leader, who resigned several months ago amid controversy relating to alleged inappropriate conduct.

Voters are ready to hear what the candidates have to say, but they are a little cynical that anything will change.

“Every election the candidates make promises, it would be nice if they were to keep some of them,” Springhill resident Steve Boss said.

Boss said the recent provincial government announcement to replace aging Junction Road Elementary and West End-Memorial Elementary with a new school is something he will be asking about.

“Those schools are in bad shape, they were that way when I went to school and that was quite a few years ago,” said Boss, who works at the Springhill Medium Security Institution.

When he announced the byelection earlier Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil said the school project will go forward no matter the byelection result.

Liberal Scott Lockhart, Tory Rushton of the Progressive Conservatives and Larry Duchesne of the NDP are the only confirmed candidates right now, but Bill Archer, who ran for the Atlantica Party in Cumberland North last year, is expected to carry the party’s colours this time around in Cumberland South.

Barb Fraser said the closure of the Rainbow Bridge outside Amherst has been a major inconvenience for her. She’s happy the province is going to replace it, but wishes the project were completed sooner rather than later.

“Every time I have to take that detour it’s frustrating,” she said.

Williamsdale’s Linda Hardie said health care is her most important issue.

“We need doctors, badly,” she said while standing outside an Oxford grocery store. “Going to the hospital is difficult because you know you have an eight or 10-hour wait ahead of you.”

Alan Rushton of Oxford said health care is important, but so too are roads. He wants the province to commit to repairing more roads in Cumberland South.

He also wants a nursing home in Oxford.

“Right now, if you have to go into a nursing home you have to leave the community,” he said. “You should be able to spend your retirement years in your hometown.”

Gerry Casey of Little River wants to hear what the candidates have to say about jobs.

Ron Shaw of Parrsboro is frustrated about roads.

“Two concerns I have are the road conditions in and around the community and the outrageous price we always to pay for fuel when the tourist season is about to begin,” Shaw said.

Chris Meyers wants more thought given to creating a green economy.

“We need to start creating a green economy,” Meyers said. “If we invest and can harness tidal power, in the end the spins-off for the area could be huge for the economy and job growth. All you have to do is look at other countries around the world like China and Germany. They are doing it and we are so far behind.”

Along with health care, Meyers sees environment as an issue the candidates don’t talk about enough.

(With files from Andrew Wagstaff)

“I have not read or seen any platform from Liberal or PC on a green energy plan to get us off of coal-fired generators, and no incentives in the way of tax breaks for people switching to solar or wind or any green energy source,” the Parrsboro man said.

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