Hantsport council calls byelection

Ashley Thompson
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Longtime Hantsport resident Phil Zamora intends to run in the upcoming by-election in the Haven of Hospitality.

The decision was far from unanimous, but a byelection will take place to fill a vacant council seat in Hantsport.

Shannon Cunningham's term ended Aug. 4. Cunningham, a longtime Hantsport resident now living in the Halifax area, served on town council for six years.

On Aug. 5, town council debated the merits of calling a byelection in light of the fact that dissolution could occur by April 1, 2015 if the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board approves the application submitted by the Town of Hantsport in May.

Stressing that time is of the essence, CAO Rob Frost asked council to decide if a byelection would be necessary considering the proposed dissolution date is less than a year away.

If council opted to call a byelection that same evening, Frost said advanced polling could occur by Oct. 9 and Oct. 14, and the ordinary polling day would be Oct. 18. On the other hand, council legally has four weeks to call a byelection in the event of a vacancy.

It became clear early in the discussion the remaining six council members had differing opinions on whether or not the byelection should be called immediately. Some were ready to call it, others wanted to turn to the Department of Municipal Affairs to seek advice about their unique situation first.

Frost recommended the group reach out to the provincial government for guidance on how to address the vacancy while in the midst of a dissolution process.

Coun. Rob Frederick expressed concern that the newly elected official would not have time to be brought up to speed before becoming a part of important discussions about Hantsport's future. He also noted that the Town of Hantsport does not have a line item in the budget to cover the byelection, which is expected to cost about $2,150.

Coun. Margot Bureaux welcomed the idea of bringing someone new to the table, calling the byelection an appropriate way to move forward based on the fact that dissolution by April 2015 is not a guarantee at this point.

“If we go beyond that then we will have a full complement,” she said.

Coun. Paul Morton tabled a motion calling on council to write a letter to the Department of Municipal Affairs to explain the Hantsport's predicament, and request advice on how to proceed.

Morton's motion, supported by Frederick and Mayor Robbie Zwicker, was defeated by a tied vote of three to three. Bureaux, Deputy Mayor Harold Bulger and Coun. Faye Hill opposed.

“That's why you need another council seat,” said Hill, slapping her hand on the table following the vote.

It appeared the next motion Bureaux put forth asking council to call the byelection immediately was destined to fail. However, Zwicker offered a vote of support that saw the motion pass four to two with only Morton and Frederick opposing.

Without unforeseen delays in the election process, the new councillor will be sworn in Nov. 4.

Phil Zamora hopes to be that new councillor.

Zamora, a member of the Think Hantsport citizen group opposing dissolution, announced his intent to run in the byelection after the council meeting.

“The Town of Hantsport has enjoyed nearly 125 years of full authority to manage property and commercial tax rates, business opportunities, recreation, policing, fire protection facilities, emergency management, water services – to name a few things,” said Zamora, a retired Department of Fisheries and Oceans employee.

“If the town dissolves into a municipality, this authority will be given to a group of people who have much larger and different priorities than those of Hantsport citizens.”

Zamora said his priority on council would be to turn to encourage more consultation with the public.

“Citizens are much more informed than in the past,” he said, reading a prepared statement. “If given enough time to actually consult with them, they can enhance the process of working together to shape the future for prosperity and growth in the Town of Hantsport.”

Organizations: Hantsport council, Department of Municipal Affairs, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Hantsport, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • pointstoponder?
    August 07, 2014 - 16:22

    If you think identity is the only reason folks in Hantsport oppose dissolution then you've got some catching up to do on things. A lot of it is about having control and not letting the clowns in west hants run the show. You don't call 1 Community meeting about something as serious as dissolution and then that's it. You discuss this issue with your tax payers. Not even council was totally informed as now I hear a couple are leaning the other way.

    • Roger Beaton
      August 08, 2014 - 18:32

      Thank you for making these points it's so important for people to understand what's at steak.

    • Nigel Tufnel
      August 11, 2014 - 13:43

      You don't call 1 Community meeting.." I don't know where you were last winter but in fairness to Council there were several well attended town hall meetings to discuss issues and options in early 2014, long before Council made it's decision.

  • Points to Ponder
    August 07, 2014 - 12:42

    It’s a shame that identity is the sole means of those against dissolution. Hantsport will never lose its identity. Take a few moments and consider other towns/areas that have melded together, yet still remain with an identity. Dartmouth, Eastern Passage, Etobicoke, Oshawa….if you look past your own nose, it’s everywhere. In light of no representation, If you have voted in your councillor whom you feel is going to represent you the best, then you shouldn’t have to worry about representation. Maybe you should consider asking Councillors from other districts and hear their response regarding voice and representation, basically it all boils down to policy, by laws and staff’s recommendations(from provincial and Federal policy as well), it’s not always what you think is best. Shame on you for bringing staff and council to blame. How many times have you taken part in past council meetings or brought concerns to these meetings? I bet next to none because you didn’t care, yet all of the sudden you do. If the Town can justify long term (that’s a minimum of 10 years), that it will be sustainable (that means new families moving into your neighbourhood, no major infrastructure repairs, and more viable commerce is definitely coming to Hantsport to support these expenses not to mention (recreation, library funding, schools (remember that your taxes support these) then one can say Hantsport should remain a Town, I trust Council and staff are having difficulty seeing this long term and are looking out for your best interest. Mr.Zamora, I commend you for stepping up and running for Council, but remember, you’re there to help negotiate on behalf of your constituents and work with the rest of your Council to solve issues far beyond dissolution. Are you prepared that you too, will make a decision that many will be opposed to? People are quick to pass judgement and sitting in the hero’s seat is very short lived. If you are serious about the bumpy roads of grass roots politics, then go for it. I commend Hantsport for trying to find the best solution for the future, but I also applaud everyone else for stepping up and taking notice of what’s going on around you.

  • Roger Beaton
    August 06, 2014 - 19:03

    Hantsport if you think your going to be better off as part of West Hants you should think again. You will be slapped with heavy area rates and have no control on your future at all. The truth is you are going to pay more in taxes than you do now with or with out dissolution. One would think it best to pay more and remain in control of your own destiny. Just a thought but think long and hard Hantsport.

  • Jim
    August 06, 2014 - 11:15

    “If the town dissolves into a municipality, this authority will be given to a group of people who have much larger and different priorities than those of Hantsport citizens.” Exactly. Phil gets it.

  • R. Swicker
    August 06, 2014 - 06:49

    And here we go...Zamora will likely go uncontested, get on council, and representing Think Hantsport and not the best interest of the town he'll disrupt all the hard work that's been done up until now to prepare for dissolution. Sad really that people like Zamora don't realize that the longer they let this drag on, the worse off the town will be.

  • Jake
    August 05, 2014 - 19:57

    I'm pretty sure Phil has brought himself up to speed better than Fredericks and Co have brought the public up to speed on things.

  • john
    August 05, 2014 - 19:54

    People of Hantsport, do the right thing and vote in Phil Zamora, a long time Hantsport resident. Someone with knowledge.

    • R. Swicker
      August 06, 2014 - 08:28

      Typical Hantsport attitude...the only people who can save the town are those that have lived here for decades. Maybe you all forget that the people that have been living here for decades are the ones that drove the town into it's current predicament....new blood and new attitudes is what the town needs.

    • wake up swicker
      August 06, 2014 - 12:47

      You do realize that the CAO, mayor and council eat up approx 150 000 of Hantsport's tax money. it's their duty to keep the citizens informed and getting everyone involved to come up with the best interests of residents instead of shoving dissolution down everyone's throats. There just may be some smarter folks around town then what sits on council. What's wrong with a little hard work instead of giving up. Word is most of the town hall has jobs lined up in West Hants, just the place the town should head to.

    • Concerned
      August 07, 2014 - 19:46

      The Think Hantsport is the group that is doing more attacking than working with the town, not transparent. I wonder with Mr Zamora if he becomes a councillor is part of the strategy and not for the good of the town.

    • phil for town council
      August 09, 2014 - 05:24

      Concerned, although I've never been to a meeting of think hantsport, the group has made it known to the public that everyone is welcome and has had a Councillor or two attend meetings. Very transparent if you ask me. They can lead a horse to water but... the town on the other hand had one public meeting on dissolution and then voted to go forward with it, transparent, no.