CBRM not sustainable without change, says mayor

The mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality says the municipality is broken, money is scarce and it can't afford to keep itself going the way it is operating now.

Public meeting held to discuss municipality's problems

People gather in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's council chamber for a public meeting about reorganizing the municipality. (Hal Higgins/CBC)

The mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality says the municipality is broken, money is scarce and it can't afford to keep itself going the way it is operating now. 

"We are not sustainable in our current form," said CBRM mayor Cecil Clarke. "You can't take a municipal unit that was forced together in 1995 and continue doing the same things because that's the way its been done so that's the way you should do it. It's not working, we're not sustainable."

Clarke said the municipality needs to change how it's structured and decide what services it can afford to offer. 

A task force recently submitted a report that made recommendations on how to do just that. Tuesday, the community held a public meeting to discuss the report's findings.

The report looked at merging departments and reducing staff by attrition.

Adrian White spoke at the meeting, he's president of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce.

"It's encouraging to see CBRM starting an overdue review of its organization and operations now rather than being forced into change during a crisis when the controls have been handed over to the Nova Scotia department of Finance and you have little say on the corrective course of action," he said.

White said municipal council will need to make tough choices.

"I expect you're going to face very strong voice of resistance: from your fire, from your police, from your unions," White said to council members Tuesday.

"I think that even the general public will be calling each of you to voice their concerns to issues near and dear to their hearts. And you're going to have to take all that into consideration when you're making the tough decisions you're going have to make going forward."

Clarke said both the police force and the fire service will have to change to reflect the current needs of the community.   The CBRM's chief administrative officer Marie Walsh outlines the job that lies ahead.

"The focus of our efforts will be efficiency, client service and prioritization of services to achieve affordability for CBRM."

Others at the meeting suggested getting youth involved in creating a new direction for CBRMWhile members of the business community gave strong support to the concept of making the municipality the most business-friendly place in the region.

Mayor Cecil Clarke said some of the changes to the CBRM will start this fall. 


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