Parrsboro Town Council has decided to vote next week on whether to file an application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) asking for approval to join Cumberland County.
The vote will be taken on Wednesday, August 26th, at the conclusion of a meeting at the Parrsboro Fire Hall where the public will get another chance to ask questions and make comments.
“We could have it as an open council meeting,” Deputy Mayor Lisa Ward said today during a council committee meeting. “We’ll do our vote right then and there.”
Councillors explained that the province has set a deadline of August 30th for the application because it would take a year to conduct a series of studies that the NSUARB requires before it makes a final decision. If Town Council missed that deadline, the process couldn’t be completed before the next municipal election in October 2016.
The province is promising to pay the $400,000 to $600,000 that the studies would cost.
Councillor David Harrison said that’s why it’s important to get the process launched now.
“So it rolls around to next October 2016. They said if it wasn’t done by then, then potentially you could have four brand new councillors that were completely opposed and they would just have spent four to six hundred thousand dollars on studies…for nothing,” Harrison said.
Not a done deal
At the same time, councillors stressed that making an application does not mean they couldn’t withdraw it as new information comes to light.
“That’s what I’ve been telling people,” Ward said. “All those studies have to be done and there’s quite an extensive list there, and if those studies come back and it shows, proves it wouldn’t be a good thing for the Town of Parrsboro to dissolve into the county well, we could withdraw our application.”
Councillor Ron Shaw welcomed the prospect of another public meeting.
“The feeling I’m getting from people is they would like to have more information,” he said. He added people should be told, for example, that the Municipal Government Act does not allow for citizens to vote on amalgamations.
“People need to know that stuff because if they don’t get that information, we will be the ones that will wear it,” Shaw said.
Councillors said little would change in Parrsboro if amalgamation does eventually happen. The local Public Works Dept., for example, would continue to maintain and plow streets and sidewalks.
“If the town decides to put in an application for this, the only ones that’s going to lose their jobs are the councillors,” Ward said. “Our staff is still going to have positions, they may alter a little bit, but they’re still going to have their positions.”
Mayor Lois Smith said she’s heard positive comments about last Thursday’s meeting on amalgamation and she agreed that people trust council to make the right decisions.
“That’s why they elected us,” she said.
The public meeting next Wednesday at the Fire Hall will begin at 7 p.m.