Nova Scotia

Cape Breton and Halifax mayors team up

Mike Savage made a little bit of history this week when he became the first Halifax mayor to ever address Cape Breton Regional Council.

The two municipalities plan to work together to tackle economic problems

Halifax mayor Mike Savage sits in on a special meeting of the Cape Breton Regional Council.(Hal Higgins/CBC)

Mike Savage made history this week as the first Halifax mayor to ever address Cape Breton Regional Council.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke invited Savage to come to the community and discuss the economic challenges facing both municipalities.

Clarke and Halifax Savage have been talking about meeting since they were both elected in the fall of 2012.

Clarke said CBRM can't go it alone if it wants to improve its economic fortunes.

"We want to be part of an economic state, not a welfare state," said Clarke.

The CBRM is in bad shape economically, it doesn't even have enough money to pave a single street this year.

Clarke believes the CBRM needs to explore a partnership with Halifax on shared economic interests.

Savage said Halifax has to be his main focus, but adds that no municipality can make it on its own.

"I've never believed that we get stronger when others get weaker," he said.

Savage said one area where the two communities can work together is on gaining federal dollars for mandatory waste water treatment.

The federal government has ordered all municipalities to update their their waste water treatment to meet new standards.

That process will cost the CBRM millions and cost Halifax more than $2 billion.

Savage said Clarke's experience as a Progressive-Conservative cabinet minister could help both municipalities if he and the CBRM mayor present a united front.

"The big issue is working together on everything on which we have common challenges. But, obviously Cecil has connections in Ottawa and that's one of the things maybe we can leverage," he said.

"He can do some things for us which may be helpful. We've talked about going to Ottawa together. Not just because he's run as a Conservative and there's a Conservative government, but he has provincial understanding of issues. I have a federal understanding and I think it dovetails well."

Savage previously served as a Liberal MP. He said what's good for the two population centres in Nova Scotia is good for the whole province.

Cape Breton Regional Council voted unanimously to continue the co-operative process with Halifax.