PICTOU – An overflow crowd watched Wednesday as Pictou County Municipal Council voted to formally withdraw its application to the Utility and Review Board to amalgamate with three local towns.
Council voted unanimously to abandon the plan to amalgamate through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the towns of New Glasgow, Pictou and Stellarton.
The crowd applauded when Warden Ronald Baillie said a formal letter of withdrawal would be going to the UARB shortly.
Several council members offered comment before the motion was introduced and approved.
Coun. Jim Turple began by thanking Warden Ronald Baillie and Coun. Debi Wadden and municipal staff for their work with the MOU steering committee and the proposal it developed.
“We will never know if it was good for Pictou County,” he said. “I considered it a good recommendation and supported it. We listened. We worked on what the people of Pictou County asked for.”
Coun. Robert Parker said the exchange of comments during MOU process means local units could still end up merging in the future.
“I don’t think it will be the end of the world,” he said. “It’s opened a lot of people’s eyes. It’s an opportunity.”
Parker also asked Baillie to provide a breakdown of expenses incurred by the steering committee for council’s financial services committee meeting on June 20. Baillie said he would do so.
Coun. David Parker said some kind of merger of municipal units is in the future.
“Some people say status quo – I disagree,” he said.
Coun. Leonard Fraser said the province needs to pull its weight in dealing with municipal infrastructure needs and amalgamation issues like ones that surfaced in the county.
Council opened its agenda with a swearing in ceremony for Darla MacKeil, who won a special election to fill the vacancy in District 3.
There was a coincidental police presence at the meeting.
RCMP District Commander Kevin Dunlevy announced he would be transferring to Truro and introduced two constables joining the local force.
Dunlevy said he anticipates no reduced RCMP staff in the near future despite the county’s declining population.
“Our staffing levels are as high as they have been and we have no vacancies,” he said.
“The staffing is adequate for the area and calls required.”
He said a new district commander for the county should be in place by the end of the summer.