Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith says Town Council has decided that it’s time to move forward with joining Cumberland County.
“My council and myself decided a couple of months ago that it’s time to look at a different structure for the town considering the drop in population and people working out west and young people leaving and lack of a lot of businesses that we do need,” the mayor said during an interview with CBC Radio.
“So, we decided it was time to engage our public and of course, the first step was to speak with the Warden of the County of Cumberland since that would be the county that we would join, or perhaps join in the future.”
However, there was no public announcement until August 7 when the town posted a message on its Facebook page inviting residents and taxpayers to a public meeting on August 13.
During the CBC interview, the mayor acknowledged that Parrsboro is in good financial shape, but said that aside from its dwindling population and declining tax base, the town needs to build more infrastructure including a sewage treatment plant that must be in place by 2020.
She said it’s important to move quickly to file an application with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board because the town wants to meet the August 30 deadline the province is imposing so it can avoid holding a municipal election next year.
“Think of the cost of an election,” she said, “It’s very costly to put on an election and so that would be money that would be wasted that could be used for something else.”
Public meeting next week
Mayor Smith said councillors are hoping Parrsboro residents will give their support to taking the first step toward joining the county at the next public meeting on Wednesday, August 26.
“With feedback from the residents,” she said, “we do hope that we will have a clear mandate.”
Meantime, local government expert Jack Novack has repeated his call for residents to be given more time to consider amalgamating with the county.
In an e-mail responding to questions from Warktimes, the Dalhousie professor said Town Council should not be making decisions on behalf of the community, but should be exercising a leadership role “by helping the community to understand all the pros and cons so that they can make an informed decision.”
When asked if council could set up a committee with broad representation from the community to look at amalgamation over the next year, Novack replied:
“This would be a good idea and the Province should help financially to ensure that it is done properly by having someone with municipal expertise and facilitation skills to help design the consultation process.”
He also suggested that once an application is filed with the NSUARB and formal studies are underway, it’s unlikely the town would be able to change its mind.
“These things tend to be self-fulfilling,” his e-mail says.