Nova Scotia

Residents' group wants province to review Annapolis County council

A group of residents in Annapolis County met last week to discuss their concerns with their municipal council.

Council's legal dispute with regional garbage system authority a major concern

Annapolis County council's legal dispute with regional garbage system authority is a major concern for a group of residents. (Submitted photo)

Update, Oct. 23, 2019: This story has been updated to include information from Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski.

Some Annapolis County residents want the province to review the municipality's council.

"They would like to have an audit done and find out what's going on with our money here," said Adam Sabean, the president of a group of concerned citizens.

Worried homeowners packed a public meeting in Bridgetown on Wednesday. It was hosted by the citizens' group.

They talked about the county council's plans to build a new transfer station in West Paradise now that it is no longer a part of Valley Waste, the regional garbage system.

In an email to CBC News, Warden Timothy Habinski reiterated that the county did not leave Valley Waste but was ejected by the group because of a dispute over governance, which is now part of a lawsuit and a counterclaim. None of the allegations have been proven in court. 

Legal counsel for the County of Annapolis advised councillors not to attend the meeting to discuss the matter as it is now before the court. The council sent a letter detailing their position to the citizen's group to be read at the public meeting. Sabean said organizers of the meeting read sections of the letter in response to questions from the audience. 

A petition against the transfer station is now circulating and is expected to be presented to the municipality before the end of October.

Habinski also pointed out the municipality's finances are independently audited and the latest audit will soon be posted on the county's website. 

Several concerns

Questions are also being raised about a move to switch contracts for an internet provider and loans to a developer behind an international private school project.

"With the Gordonstoun school we are now basically on the hook for $7.2-million dollars," said Sabean. "We don't even know where it's going. As taxpayers in Annapolis County we have no idea."

Habinski told CBC News the money for the school project was an advance that was vetted by lawyers with security required. The elite $62-million school could attract 600 students, with most expected to come from Asia, Europe and North America.

John Ferguson, Annapolis County's CAO, said last year that funding for the school is coming primarily from European investors.

Habinski also said the former internet provider contract with Mainland Telecom would have cost $3 million more than the new one just signed with Eagle Telecom.  Annapolis County council voted in favour of terminating the contract with Mainland Telecom "for convenience," which means no one is assigned blame and the work to date is paid for. 

According to Ferguson, the county CAO, the final bill will be determined in court. But Habinski told CBC News the internet project is "now within budget and ready to proceed."

Sabean said some county residents are so upset they are calling for the entire council to resign, even though municipal elections are scheduled to take place in October 2020.  Meanwhile Annapolis County has announced that a special election will take place on December 14th to fill a vacant seat in District 1. 

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