Springhill dissolution mired in controversy
Three towns announced dissolution decision within 5 weeks of each other
Three Nova Scotia towns that want to dissolve will soon have preliminary hearings before the province's Utility and Review Board, however the dissolution of one town remains mired in controversy.
Town councils in Springhill, Bridgetown and Hantsport have passed motions to dissolve their status as towns and amalgamate with their respective counties. All three towns cite economic pressure as a driving force behind the decision to dissolve.
But in Springhill, there's a lot of debate over the decision.
John Mont has helped spearhead a group opposed to the town plan.
“I'd be devastated if this group of people, of the mayor and four councillors, are able to carry this off,” he said.
Mont and his group are calling for a plebiscite on the issue.
He said he doesn't believe merging with the the Municipality of the County of Cumberland will leave Springhill in any better financial shape.
“There's no indication our taxes will go down. There's no indication our streets will be repaired,” said Mont.
Former Springhill police officer Richard Stonehouse said higher taxes in Springhill push people into other communities.
Stonehouse, who is looking to sell his multi-storey home, said he’s unsure whether he can find a buyer.
“I know I have over $200,000 in my house and I'll be lucky to get half of it,” he said.
Stonehouse, a lifelong Springhill resident, is in favour of dissolving the town status.
“If the town is in debt, the way they say they are, then it’s time we moved on and did something different,” he said.
The plan to dissolve each of the towns must first pass muster with the province's Utility and Review Board.
A preliminary hearing Wednesday will look at what issues must be studied for Springhill.
Hantsport’s preliminary hearing with the UARB is scheduled for Thursday and Bridgetown’s hearing is scheduled for June 26.
Preliminary hearings give the UARB a chance to determine what issues it wants studied more closely.
The public will be able to speak at formal hearings, which will be scheduled at some point down the road.