Future Shelburne municipal amalgamations face hurdles

Greg Bennett
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Many municipal councillors are no-shows at presentation

A process that could see the future amalgamation of the Town of the Shelburne and the Municipality of Shelburne was started last week.

For those who believe some amalgamations of our municipal units are needed, there were hopeful signs and not-so-hopeful signs from Thursday night’s combined meeting

 It’s hopeful that members of the amalgamation committee are on board.

They held a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 28 to ask both councils to move to the next step, the commissioning an independent study into an amalgamation of the two units.

Shelburne Municipal Councillor David Levy offered impassioned arguments as he presented the reasons for the move.

He argued quite rightly that the town and municipality are really more of a single community than they are different communities. He also noted that a single municipal unit would present a united front to our neighbours, the province and to the world of business.

Other members of the committee agreed and offered their personal thoughts on why an amalgamation of the local municipal units should be considered.

They were well-considered and powerful arguments.

It was also encouraging to see Shelburne Mayor Karen Matattall welcome the committee’s report with open arms.

There were some “not-so-hopeful” signs through.

While Shelburne Municipal Warden Roger Taylor called the committee’s report a “great first beginning” it was disappointing that his council would still require an internal staff report to be completed before considering any funding for a future study.

It could be months before staff could complete the report and recommendations.

Some amalgamation committee members questioned how long commissioning a separate staff report might delay the process.

We feel, like the committee members believe, that there is a need to keep the ball rolling while there is still a political will to consider amalgamation.

It was especially concerning for us that there were three empty chairs for the municipality at the presentation, one that arguably could be one of the most important in the history of the two units.

We would also question why the municipality would wait to start an independent study until they’ve conducted a study of their own?  …And how would they expect a completely unbiased report from staff whose very jobs might be affected by the process?

Questions indeed.

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