Members of the audience at the Kings Partnership Steering Committee meeting Oct. 17 included members of the Kings Citizens Coalition. - Jennifer Hoegg, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Jennifer Hoegg
A regional governance study may happen, but not soon.
At the quarterly Kings Partnership Steering Committee Meeting Oct. 17, members decided to put off a decision on moving ahead on the idea of an independent review of governance until the Municipality of Kings is ready.
“It’s not a dead issue,” committee chairman and Kentville Coun. Bill Boyd said. “I’m optimistic. I think we will move ahead once the County of Kings has completed their report and that that report will indicate they are also prepared to move ahead.”
At its Oct. 1 meeting, the Municipality of Kings County’s council agreed to a motion to have the study on the steering committee agenda, but passed a second motion to wait for a report from its chief administrative officer, expected in January.Deputy Warden Mike Ennis only mentioned the latter motion during the steering committee meeting.
Wolfville and Kentville’s mayors both said their towns would support a study, providing the terms of reference are acceptable.
“We are looking forward to moving forward as long as… there are terms of reference that our council finds acceptable,” Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum said.
“We do have some concerns. There are some concerns out there that it’s automatic that this would lead to an amalgamation.”
Corkum said citizens are concerned about losing services and cited the amalgamation of the school boards.
“If we were still in control of the schools, we would have an elementary, junior high and high school in Kentville.”
Berwick said it would like to see the terms of reference before making a decision.
Hantsport – which shares a border with the county – is not ready to embark on a study at this time.
Although the partnership’s protocol states a project can move forward with any two partners, there was a consensus to wait on Kings County’s decision.
“It would’ve been nice to move ahead with the terms of reference today,“ Boyd said after the meeting, “but, again, it’s only a couple of months. “I would never support a study unless the county was involved.”
Kings Citizens Coalition co-chairman Gordon Lummis said he is confident the study will eventually move ahead.
“I’m delighted that they’re still moving ahead,” he said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction. These things take time.
“The real issue is where are they going from here? I’m convinced that when the (county) CAO comes back with whatever he comes back with… I think they will all begin discussions on terms of reference.”
The KCC’s position is clear, he said. “
“The question needs to be asked what needs to be done to improve governance in Kings County. It could be ‘leave it the way it is. It’s perfect’ or it could be all the way to ‘here’s some major changes’,” he said.
Leaving it up to the partnership is not enough – the KCC believes independent advice is needed.
“I don’t think people sitting around the table can come to the conclusions. I think you need to have a study to tell.”
Lummis expressed frustration that county Warden Diana Brothers, vice-chairwoman of the committee, was away at a mayors’ meeting in Cape Breton.
“Perhaps she would have been able to properly advise of the county’s resolution to discuss the terms of reference of an independent review of municipal government,” he said.
Lummis said he would have liked to see discussion of terms of reference begin right away, as they will take time to hammer out.
“I have no problem with people disagreeing with something. That is their right and responsibility,” he added. “But I have a problem with people voting against something without giving a reason and without having any facts. The reason we’re asking for the study is so we will have the facts.”
The partnership’s next scheduled meeting is Jan. 9, 2014.
See further coverage in the Oct. 24 Register.