By Jennifer Hoegg
Kings County is still working towards a new municipal building.
Council voted at a July 24 committee meeting to have staff continue discussions with the provincial Department of Justice, including a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU), on the department’s plans for Kentville court offices. The recommendation will go to the next regular council meeting for approval.
The municipality is interested in the possibility of selling the Kentville building to the province and relocating their offices to a new site.
Consultant Andrew Amos told council having an MOU would keep communication going between the two levels of government.
"One of the biggest risks is (the department) can go off in a silo and come back with a decision… but leave us insufficient time to do what we need to do to accommodate it.”
Timelines are tight: Amos said if Kings County plans to sell the building in 2016, decisions need to be made by the spring of 2013.
The draft agreement includes commitments to hold regularly scheduled meetings, collaborate, undertake independent assessments of the building, discuss “non-financial factors” and provide sufficient notice on decisions.
"It doesn't cost them to stutter step or rag the puck,” Amos said of the department. "They hold all the cards.”
That’s not entirely correct, CAO Bob Ashley pointed out.
"(Justice) is not holding the cards with regard to their budget, that's allocated through the Treasury Board."
He added “very productive” meetings have taken place with the department and the memorandum would be a good step.
Several councillors asked about public involvement in the process.
Amos said public consultation would come once there was an agreement in principle on the building.
“I would be happier if we were consulting on ‘here are the options’ and not just on the decision the building goes,” Coun. Patricia Bishop said.
Council approved the committee of the whole recommendation to have staff continue discussions with the Department of Justice regarding their plans for court functions in the municipal complex, as per the draft memorandum of understanding, at the July 31 session.
With files from Kirk Starratt