To the editor,
The Municipality of the County of Colchester has been observing significant reports in the media in respect of ongoing negotiations
The Municipality of the County of Colchester has been observing significant reports in the media in respect of ongoing negotiations with the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission, and feels there are a number of inaccuracies in the reports regarding these negotiations. Subsequent to the recent news report in the Truro Daily News and on the CBC radio, announcing the Farm Loan Board seizing the assets of the commission, the county feels it important to bring out the underlying events to clarify its position on this issue.
The municipality received two letters, one in April and the other in August of last year, from the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission (NSPEC) requesting to take over the operations of the Exhibition Commission, citing financial difficulties and the precarious financial condition of the NSPEC. County council took these requests seriously, responded positively to the commission and began negotiations in good faith.
In response to the requests, the county council commissioned a financial review of the NSPE in July 2013. This review was performed by a very reputable auditing firm and presented to the NSPE board, which accepted the findings of the review in August 2013. Based on this financial review, the county council agreed to provide financial assistance to the commission but desired that the financial assistance be secured through the transfer of assets of the NSPEC to the county. In addition, the county council agreed to provide assistance in the form of a governance model and management structure to ensure long term operational and financial viability of a valuable public asset in Colchester County. The council authorized the executive committee to negotiate a formal agreement with the commission in this regard.
The county council has a very strong interest in supporting the activities and operations of the exhibition commission, including the raceway, and believes that the Commission plays a very important role in the community and is a source of significant economic activity in the area.
For the county to be involved, it is important that the county’s investment be secured. The county council’s offer included funding the commission to ensure their ability to retire the entire loan of the Nova Scotia Farm Land Board, which has been in arrears for a number of years. This funding was contingent on the transfer of all NSPEC properties and facilities to the county as security, which in turn, ensures the continued operation of the exhibition and the raceway activities and also ensures that the title of the properties continues to belong to the taxpayers of Colchester County.
The negotiating committees of both the county and the commission met on a number of occasions to finalize a series of agreements to ensure financial and operational viability of the commission’s activities and to provide a strong governance structure for future operations of the facility. The agreements have yet to be signed by the Commission, although they have been agreed to by the NSPE board by a majority vote at a board meeting held in January 2014.
At this time, the council feels that it has acted positively to the request and has done all that it could to ensure continued viability of the facility and, in the absence of a signed agreement, would take a decision at a future council meeting.
Colchester County Council
Executive audit committee:
Mayor Bob Tayor
Deputy Mayor Bill Masters
Coun. Tom Taggart
Coun. Mike Cooper