Parrsboro Mayor rules out vote on amalgamation, at least for now

Mayor Smith (R) talks to people at an open house on tidal power last week

Mayor Smith (R) talks to people at an open house on tidal power last week

Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith says there are no plans at the moment to give residents and taxpayers a chance to vote on whether the town should join Cumberland County.

Four municipalities in the Pictou area plan to hold a plebiscite this spring on their amalgamation, but Parrsboro’s mayor says a vote isn’t likely here.

“I’m not ruling it out entirely, but myself personally, I’m thinking that it’s probably not going to happen,” the mayor said during an interview last week. “But hey, I could change my mind,” she added noting, however, that a plebiscite would be very expensive.

Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter agreed.

“Do you want to add that extra expense onto the residents of Parrsboro?” Hunter asked. “The forecast is that things are going to be tougher in the long run, why add another expense now? You’ve elected a council to make the decision,” he added.

Mayor Smith pointed to the two public meetings at the firehall last month where people had a chance to learn about amalgamation, raise questions and make comments. She added that the town is now planning to mail out information sheets to answer citizen’s questions and concerns.

“We’ll not only do one of these mail-outs, we’re going to do two or three as we move along through the fall and winter months because we want to keep them informed with every step that we take,” the mayor said. “The way my council and myself think, that’s a fair way to do it,” she said adding that many people don’t like to speak or ask questions at public meetings.

“So by doing it almost on an individual basis, we feel that we’ll educate the public more in why we’re considering this,” Smith said.

Both Mayor Smith and Warden Hunter suggest Parrsboro has no alternative but to amalgamate with the county.

“Parrsboro is not unique,” Hunter said, “you know of the towns that already have given up their charter, there are more on the way and it’s just because they can’t afford to operate with rising costs and dwindling populations.”

“We’ve so many major projects to do,” Smith said, “it’s going to drain the bank accounts and with decreased population, we have mainly seniors, a lot of young people are going away to work, our school population’s decreasing dramatically and so we thought, let’s look ahead and I really don’t see a huge change for Parrsboro. I really don’t.”

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