HALIFAX – While nothing has been determined, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey said Springhill’s interests may not necessarily be represented by someone from Springhill after the next round of municipal elections.
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Service Nova Scotia Minister Mark Furey (left) looks on as Springhill's new transition co-ordinator John Leefe speaks during a press conference in Halifax earlier this week.
Using the amalgamation of Queens with the Town of Liverpool, Furey said there was a realignment of districts there that saw the town
“They didn’t form a district from the Town of Liverpool and then all of the other districts from the municipality. They changed the boundaries so that pieces of the town were blended into other districts in the municipality,” Furey said. “It was done that way so there wasn’t one council member speaking for the town, several were. Those councilors had responsibilities to both the town and the county. That mitigated any division or entrenchment in the former models of government.”
There has been speculation in how many representatives Springhill will have in the Municipality of Cumberland after the 2016 municipal election. Mayor Max Snow expects the town will have at least two municipal councilors, but the final decision will rest with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board and will be based on a population ratio that’s used in all districts and municipalities in the province.
Furey said it’s too early to determine what will happen in Springhill, but the minister said it was successful in Queens.
“I would suggest that is the direction you will see taken here. I can’t speak for the transition co-ordinator or either municipality,” Furey said.
The minister also pointed out the debt that Springhill is carrying will not become the responsibility of the Municipality of Cumberland. He said there are various scenarios that are being explored.
At the same time, the minister said he would entertain other municipalities in Cumberland County should they decide to participate in the amalgamation process, although he stressed he will not force other towns into the union. He’s also not aware of any other Cumberland County municipality expressing an interesting in surrendering its town status.
He also reassured Springhill residents that they will not be giving up their identity when they join the county.
“We’re changing a model of government, we’re not changing the culture or history of Springhill,” Furey said.
The minister also reassured residents there will be opportunity for public input through the application process with the UARB. He also expects there to be public meetings in both the town and the county.
He said there has been no discussion about holding a plebiscite. He said it would be up to the transition team on whether to request a plebiscite.