Sparks fly at town council as Sackville’s mayor defends his position on forced amalgamation

Mayor Mesheau defends his leadership on forced amalgamation

Members of Sackville Town Council exchanged sharp words last night over the forced amalgamation of the town with Dorchester and the surrounding local service districts.

It began as Mayor Mesheau read a statement clarifying his position on the issue.

“Although some may believe I’m totally sold on forced amalgamation for my community because I haven’t spoken out aggressively against the minister and the government of New Brunswick, that is not the case,” Mesheau began.

He then sought to distance himself from councillors who have spoken out.

“I’m not going to rehash what has already been spoken about time and time again by members of this council,” Mesheau said.

“As mayor it is not my role to put down people, to call them liars and to question someone’s background to smear them in an effort to put down a process they have been asked to do.”

Mesheau was referring to comments made by members of council during a committee meeting last week.

Councillor Bill Evans

Councillor Bill Evans called the provincial minister of local government reform a liar at that meeting for having assured town council that amalgamation would not be forced on any municipality.

Evans also called out Mesheau himself, saying the council committee on municipal reform was set up because of the mayor’s lack of leadership in upholding Sackville’s stand against amalgamation.

“The response from the mayor originally was rather accepting and passive and in fact, in the interview that he did on CHMA about it, instead of protesting, he said he’d be interested in running for re-election,” Evans said.

‘Be leaders’ Mesheau urges

In his statement last night, Mesheau responded that along with other municipalities, the province has given Sackville very little “wiggle room” and that as mayor, he has been seeking to work for the town’s best interests.

“I’ve been trying to seek a strategic approach in identifying the challenges we can have influence on as a council, understanding the ones we cannot influence and looking for opportunities that will not only benefit Sackville, but also the communities we will join with come January, 2023,” he said.

He added that the town has an obligation to work with the provincial advisory committee.

“We need to be responsive to what we are asked to bring to the advisory committee and we need to be seeking consensus with the other communities of Entity 40 in order to ensure we are part of the solution, not the problem,” Mesheau said.

He was referring to his own membership on the advisory committee which will be meeting next week in closed session to discuss such issues as the number of councillors on the amalgamated municipal council and which areas they will represent.

“If we are not at that table, if we do not provide input, if we do not find consensus, then the province will have even more reason to impose upon us what they feel is best for us,” Mesheau added.

He said that it might be possible to push for a one-year delay to give Sackville more time to prepare for amalgamation and he suggested that members of council recognize his leadership on the issue.

“I ask the council to push aside their anger and frustration,” he said.

“I ask you not to be activists, but to be leaders and I ask that you please, place your energy into tackling the task at hand whether you personally believe in it or not.”

‘Why give up?’

Councillor Sabine Dietz

Councillor Sabine Dietz responded that she would continue to voice her strong opposition to forced amalgamation.

“We have very little role to play as councillors in the process,” Dietz said.

“We need to call out undemocratic actions that affect communities directly and so, I will continue to do that whether you appreciate that or not and I really don’t appreciate being chastised for us doing our role in it,” she told Mesheau.

Councillor Bill Evans was even blunter.

“If bad stuff is going to happen for Sackville, then let’s make sure it doesn’t happen with our complicity,” he said.

Evans suggested boycotting provincial advisory committees saying town council could pass motions refusing to co-operate and instructing town staff not to co-operate either.

“We can contact other municipalities and ask them to join the resistance and we can encourage people to protest,” he said.

“This government is cynical and they’ve backed down before in the face of protest; if there were widespread push-back, it might happen again,” Evans added.

“The argument that well, maybe if we co-operate, maybe if we’re nice, that’s the kind of stuff that victims of bullies try and bullies love it,” he said.

“So I say, why not resist? Why give up?”

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9 Responses to Sparks fly at town council as Sackville’s mayor defends his position on forced amalgamation

  1. Christian Corbet says:

    If any of these councillors were that intelligent and good at their job our town would be thriving and it is not. The past is proof as to success and there are few, very few successes.

    • Tim Reiffenstein says:

      Christian, Sackville’s population increased by 14% over the last five years. Do you know what you are talking about?

  2. Steve the Optimist says:

    I would sure like to know why Councilor Dietz and Councilor Evans are so vehemently opposed to this amalgamation. Same goes with any other Councillors on the opposition side of the fence on this matter. I get that it is imposed, and no one likes that, and I get the anti-Higgs sentiment, but honestly that is just not enough. And please don’t tell me it’s about the balanced budget because that can be maintained. So what is it about this amalgamation that simply does not work for them? What are they concerned with? Why do they feel this amalgamation will fail? Why is it detrimental for Sackville and the other communities?

    • Jon says:

      If amalgamation is advantageous, and the province has the facts to prove it, the province is free to provide those facts and let us vote on the matter. The fact that they are not allowing us the choice, or the information, and are doing the whole process behind closed doors, suggests that there is no case to make to the public, and that this process is for the benefit of the provincial budget, not the benefit of the communities involved.

  3. Wendy Alder says:

    Takes a bully to know what bullies do. Welcome to the works of being told what you can abs can’t do. Seems Councillor Evans doesn’t like it, well here comes Karma right back at ya. Not so fun is it? Similar to what we went through trying to get a drive thru, we were told by Evans we needed to use creative ways to increase business. Well maybe the storm needs to be creative, right back at ya Billy boy

  4. Wayne Feindel says:

    People! People! All politics is local. A dustup and dissonance between members is the root of Democratic deliberations. A whole succession of governments in New Brunswick have tried to rule by substituting “policy governance” a business model designed to improve how decisions are made; but it has usurped the independence of deliberative bodies. Do not forget the system we have ‘Roberts Rules’ has gone through centuries of trial and error. It is such a ‘dust up’ between the majority and an individual member who often guards against totalitarianism tendencies of todays governments .Drop the attack on fellow citizens. Attack ideas and principles not personalities, Municipals governments are the closest to the people, and we expect more than slavish devotion by our citizen councils. As a very young councilor I was instructed by men who served in both wars that they considered themselves citizens, not subjects, not stake holders, or shareholders and certainly not clients of the state. GLEICHSCHAULTUNG: the forced-coordination of municipalities. Yes! A bill has been forced through the legislature for what the government believes is for the ‘greater good’ of the the province. The trouble is the greater good is indefinite and poorly thought out. The lessons of Vimy ridge where for the first time officers gave clear instruction as to the object, and provided the information, tools and freedom how best to secure victory as citizens soldiers. Seems reasonable now; not to march in a straight line. Your first duty is not to any party or person in Fredericton. Not the Minister, or his department, or even Ottawa. you are definitely not just district 40. This is your community with names edged in stone that certify the sacrifices made by others.. As citizens you have a right to demand that the province respect and uphold those standards. You and I as citizens cannot be shut out of the decision-making process; otherwise “”Corporatism” becomes a very stupid ‘ism’ like its forefather ‘facism’. More then ever these times demand more people not fewer to take part in reaching what are the most vital decisions. You are the ones like those who went before you who KNOW best how to execute reform, and is not an appointed failed fracker that has come to mine tax dollars.. Poor governance by Fredericton should not become a crisis for our communities. Never ever tolerate falsification by the minister of municipalities of the true nature of the reform. How it is done is our choice. Reform goes both ways.

  5. I understand that the Minister has the right to redirect municipal & ‘entity’ boundaries. However, the CAOs of Sackville and Dorchester work for their respective councils until the end of the year. If the councils do not wish to aid and abet this process, I would assume that they could direct their CAOs not to assist with the process and not provide any other Town resources. I doubt [open to correction] that the Minister has the right to direct the work of individual CAOs and staff of municipalities. It seems that our Town Council has the option of participating in this amalgamation process, or not.

    • Wendy Alder says:

      I’m assuming it’s in the best interest of the current CAOs to help with the process and not refuse to given they need to apply for their positions and if they took a hard stance against helping I’m assuming that wouldn’t fare well for their chances of getting the job…

  6. Kathy Estabrooks says:

    I think the Town Council and the citizens of Sackville should request a meeting regarding the ins and outs of the amalgamation process before making any hasty decisions. If that helps at all. Get a petition going.

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