Municipal Affairs Minister Mark Furey says Nova Scotia’s Liberal government will not force villages to dissolve or amalgamate.
“We are working collaboratively with all our community leaders to engage in an open dialogue on the best municipal governance structure for the province, and this includes villages,” Furey said in a news release issued today.
The minister met this week with representatives from the Association of Nova Scotia Villages. There are 22 incorporated villages in Nova Scotia including two in Cumberland Co., River Hebert and Pugwash.
Villages under attack?
The Association of Villages is worried about a draft report compiled by elected municipal officials and deputy ministers. The provincial-municipal fiscal review report was released in mid-October. It recommends that all incorporated villages be phased out and given the choice either to apply for town status, merge with a nearby town or amalgamate with a larger rural municipality.
In his news release today, Furey emphasized that the province is treading lightly in this controversial area.
“We want to work with municipalities and villages on sustainable solutions and not force them to dissolve or amalgamate,” he said.
The fiscal review is expected to be finished with its final recommendations presented to the provincial government within weeks.
Implications for Parrsboro
Meantime, the draft report also recommends that the province use its Financial Condition Index to trigger a comprehensive review of any municipality that fails to meet certain requirements over a three-year period. Such a review could put pressure on a municipality to amalgamate with a larger, more financially viable one.
The Index does not have complete information for Parrsboro because the town missed the Sept. 30 deadline for filing figures covering the last two years. It has been working to pull the required information together with the help of a financial expert recommended by the province. See earlier story here.
Figures for 2011/2012, the first year of the Financial Condition Index, show Parrsboro failing to meet thresholds in five of the 15 categories.