Former mayor John Leefe to oversee Springhill dissolution
Former Queens region mayor to co-ordinate transition
A veteran of municipal politics will co-ordinate Springhill's transition from a town to a part of Cumberland County, the Nova Scotia government announced Monday.
John Leefe is a former provincial cabinet minister for the Progressive Conservatives and served as the mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality for three terms before stepping down in October 2012.
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Leefe also helped steer a merger between the former town of Liverpool and Queens County council.
"Mr. Leefe was a key individual in that change and the outcomes that municipality experiences to this day," said Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey, who announced Leefe's appointment.
Springhill's town council passed a motion last week to dissolve its status as a town after 125 years of incorporation, citing economic pressures and a declining population.
As of April 1, 2015, Springhill is expected to form a new governance structure with the Municipality of the County of Cumberland County.
An application has been filed with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to approve the town's decision.
"There are no losers. There are only winners. By joining together, there is strength in numbers," said Leefe.
"We can reduce, I believe, the cost of government to both units and it will give that whole area an even stronger voice not only in the province but also through the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities."
Leefe said the good thing about Springhill's impending partnership with the county is that it was decided by the local council, rather than forced on the town — unlike the creation of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
"They were forced into a marriage that some still don't think works very well," he told CBC News.
"One of the great things about this amalgamation is that it is not forced on anyone. The units themselves have taken a leadership role and that's what certainly I would like to see done across the province."
Leefe said the examples of previous rural amalgamations in Queens and in Canso-Guysborough give him confidence the changes can be managed successfully in Springhill's case.
"What everybody will want is — irrespective of what decision is taken — that current employees are dealt with fairly," he said.
"Certainly that is my intention and the intention of the mayor and the warden and the others who will be working with us on the committee."
Spinghill was first settled in 1790 and it was incorporated in 1889.