Springhill's demise as town no surprise to Ray Ivany
Ivany's report said Nova Scotia faces a bleak future unless economic trends are reversed
A decision by the local council in Springhill to dissolve its status as a town isn't surprising to the man who led a panel on Nova Scotia's economic future.
Ray Ivany, the president of Acadia University and a co-author on a report about economic development in the province, said he believes local councillors are recognizing that something has to be done to deal with declining revenues.
"We did think municipal units would actually feel the crunch of the demography — the economic dynamic that we cited in the report — that they would feel it first," said Ivany.
Residential property tax rates for Nova Scotia towns, 2012-2013 (Per $100 of assessment)
- Amherst: $1.66
- Annapolis Royal: $1.70
- Antigonish: $1.00
- Berwick: $1.59
- Bridgetown: $2.10
- Bridgewater: $1.65
- Clark's Harbour: $1.65
- Digby: $1.94
- Hantsport: $1.69
- Kenvtille: $1.36
- Lockeport: $2.28
- Lunenburg: $1.21
- Mahone Bay: $1.15
- Middleton: $1.78
- Mulgrave: $1.28
- New Glasgow: $1.82
- Oxford: $1.59
- Parrsboro: $2.00
- Pictou: $1.86
- Port Hawkesbury: $1.62
- Shelburne: $2.06
- Springhill: $2.25
- Stellarton: $1.82
- Stewiacke: $1.70
- Trenton: $1.99
- Truro: $1.76
- Westville: $2.09
- Windsor: $1.96
- Wolfville: $1.43
- Yarmouth: $1.75
"At one level, not entirely surprised about the decision. At the more emotional level as a Nova Scotian, somewhat saddened by it."
Earlier this week, the town council in Springhill passed a motion to dissolve its status as a town as of March 31, 2015, citing shrinking populations and economic decline. Springhill is expected to form a new governance structure within the Municipality of the County of Cumberland County.
Ivany's report, released last month, warned Nova Scotia faces a bleak future unless population and economic trends are reversed.
"We're at a point now that you can't make the numbers work when you look at the changes that we've had in our population demography," said Ivany.
"That's just, again, the simple mathematics of the services they need to provide and the tax base they have available to them."
'We haven't sunk yet'
Meanwhile, Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey has said as many as 10 municipalities in rural Nova Scotia are facing financial failure.
He said two municipalities are in active discussions with the province about solutions that include amalgamation. Furey did not name the two communities.
The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities said at least half a dozen other towns are doing as poorly as Springhill — but no one is saying which towns.
What is clear is that homeowners in many towns are finding it increasingly expensive to pay for services.
"We're above water, we haven't sunk yet," said Roger MacKay, the mayor of Westville in Pictou County.
"It's getting more difficult and difficult every year when you have no commercial tax rate to rely on and you got to rely on residential tax rate and that puts a burden on your taxpayer."
Springhill's residential property tax rate for 2012-2013 was $2.25 for every $100 of assessed value — the second highest rate among towns in Nova Scotia.
When reached by CBC News, the mayors of Bridgetown, Lockeport, Parrsboro, Stellarton and Westville said they are not among the two municipalities in talks with the province about changing their governance structures.
With files from The Canadian Press