Published on February 06, 2014
The Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Bible Hill has been a hot topic of discussion. Earlier this week, the province called in an outstanding loan owed by the NSPE commission and has taken possession of its properties and assets. County Mayor Bob Taylor calls the move devastating for the community.
Published on February 06, 2014
Bruce Kennedy, left, and Bob Taylor.
BIBLE HILL - For Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor, a takeover of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) by the provincial government was devastating news.
For board chairman Bruce Kennedy, however, it was welcome news.
"This was like a birthday party or a surprise or something," Kennedy said, of the announcement on Wednesday, that the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board was calling in its loan to the NSPE commission and that it was taking possession of facility's entire property and assets.
The commission owes the board $422,000 and was $170,000 in arrears after having not made a payment for the past 15 months.
"I mean, I was an advocate of the province having control. They put so much money over the years into this property and they contribute to harness racing a huge amount of money every year for purses for the horsemen to race for. And they're advocates for trying to sustain the viability of harness racing," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the province contributes about $1 million each year to the racing industry, the "bulk" of which comes to the Truro Raceway, which is a component of the NSPE property.
"So, the amount of money that comes through from the province is paramount in the staying open and operational (perspectives) and a chance to be viable here," he said. "Who would more likely be the better landlord? In my book, it's registering very clearly that the province would be the better landlord."
Taylor, however, strongly disagrees and he suggested that Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell overreacted by having the Farm Loan Board call in the NSPE loan.
"I don't know what the big deal was but he felt that he should step in. I really think it is devastating for the community. It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out now," Taylor said of the minister's actions.
"He didn't look at what we had proposed to undertake to keep that as a community event," he said. "Now we listen to a minister, who I think is stepping outside his bounds to do this, for whatever reason."
Taylor said he also takes offence to the county being portrayed as rushing things in its proposal to take over management of the NSPE by paying off the Farm Loan Board debt and setting up a new management structure.
"It makes you wonder what we're doing. I'm being portrayed that we're not doing this in good faith, that's where I'm having a problem right now," he said.
"You have a minister that's making accusations about conversations that we had, which I can tell you is inaccurate and that's why."
Last week, Colwell announced that the province would be hiring a firm to conduct a financial audit of the NSPE's finances and activities and in speaking with the Truro Daily News, he said he found it "strange" that Taylor requested that he not do that, and instead let the county proceed with its own audit as part of its purchase proposal.
"Now we're being nailed as bad guys trying to rush a deal and that's not what it is at all. And those are inaccuracies," he said.
"The conversation I had with the minister was that this was a local matter between the Farm Loan Board, the exhibition board and our council. And that it would be very clean, something that he wouldn't have to get involved with. And somebody got in his ear I believe, that something had to be going on and he wanted to get to the bottom of it."