Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Amalgamation, round two

Opinion

Seems like it isn’t over yet.

The towns of New Glasgow and Pictou both voted on Monday night to not withdraw their MOU application which is currently before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

In a plebiscite vote on May 28, the amalgamation proposal between the towns of Stellarton, New Glasgow and Pictou as well as the Municipality of the County of Pictou was defeated. Soundly. About two thirds of those who voted said no to the proposal.

The reasons cited for the amalgamation proposal included competition for infrastructure funding, the county being less attractive to  prospective employers, a fractured community and lack of co-ordinated approaches to economic attraction and retention.

New Glasgow was the only municipal unit that voted in favour of the move on May 28. The others involved – Stellarton and the County – have subsequently voted to withdraw their application. The towns of Trenton and Westville were not involved in the process.

Now, it seems, the issue has not been totally put to rest. The motion to remain in the MOU application was unanimous in New Glasgow, and 3-2 in Pictou.
New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan calls Monday night’s move a “symbolic gesture.”

It is symbolic in the fact that, despite the no vote to amalgamation, it was clear that there is a need for municipal reform.

Clearly, two of the six municipal units that comprise Pictou County are not content to simply let go. If not amalgamation, then reform is needed. And New Glasgow and Pictou are ready to address governance and work with other people and municipalities to bring about reform on some level.

MacMillan said, “We remain willing to work with anyone who wants to move towards structural reform. The citizens of New Glasgow realize that six municipal governments with a population of only 45,000 people is unsustainable and frankly a dysfunctional decision-making structure.”

A need for change was also evident in those who voted against amalgamation on May 28. In fact, three people from the Amalgamation No Thank You (ANTY) group, which formed in opposition to the amalgamation proposal, have taken reform to the next level; they have taken the lead to move forward ANTY’s commitment to build a better future for Pictou County with the formation of the Pictou County Possibilities Project.

This is the time to go forward together or, as Ben Franklin said while signing the Declaration of Inde-pendence, ‘We must all hang together or, assuredly we shall all hang separately.’

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