Springhill mayor says plebiscite on town's dissolution unlikely
Town to dissolve and merge with Cumberland County by March 31, 2015
The proposal to dissolve the town of Springhill got a rough ride on Wednesday as the province's Utility and Review Board held a preliminary hearing to look at issues surrounding the town's dissolution.
Members of the board were in town to discuss what studies need to be done in consideration of Springhill's plan to dissolve and merge with Cumberland County by March 31, 2015.
"We certainly understand that this is an emotional issue," said Darrell White, the deputy mayor of Springhill.
White said once reports and studies are complete, he thinks the town's reasons for deciding to dissolve will become more apparent.
However, some groups present at the meeting felt differently.
Murray Scott, the former MLA for Cumberland South, is the spokesperson for the Springhill Volunteer Citizens Committee. The group was granted intervenor status for future hearings on the dissolution.
Scott said 900 people have already signed a petition to oppose the town's dissolution and he believes there should be a plebiscite on dissolving the town before the Utility and Review Board's final hearing is held.
But Maxwell Snow, the mayor of Springhill, said he doesn't think a plebiscite will happen.
"A plebiscite is not binding and we're not required to have one. In order for us to walk down that road, time was not on our side," he said.
Scott said he also has concerns about the dissolution studies the town is going to conduct and believes any study should be done by an independent group to avoid bias.
"The people in this area will fully appreciate the fact that these studies were done without any predetermined closure," he said.
Scott also believes some avenues to save money have not been fully investigated that could help the town to remain incorporated.
"It's very clear to us that town council did not even bother to contact the executive director of the police association to say, for example, 'Is there an opportunity to save in your service?'" he said.
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 cited economic pressure as a driving force behind the decision to dissolve.
Spinghill was first settled in 1790 and it was incorporated in 1889.
The small Nova Scotia community entered the national consciousness in the 1950s after the town was devastated by two of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history. An explosion in 1956 killed 39 miners and another 74 died in a geological bump in 1958.
The Springhill bump of 1958 trapped dozens of miners 3,900 metres underground in small dark pockets with little to no food and water and a dwindling air supply.
Six days into the rescue effort, 12 trapped miners were miraculously found alive. Then two days later, another seven survivors were found and rescued.
Springhill is also home to internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter Anne Murray, who was the first Canadian woman to hit No. 1 in the U.S.
In 1968, she put out her first album. Since then, she's sold more than 54 million records, and has received numerous awards — including four Grammys and 24 Junos.