Expanding boundary lines, not dissolution, a viable option for Hantsport

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For the latest Town of Hantsport news, be sure to read the Hants Journal.

Our present provincial government, not unlike its two predecessors, continues‚Ä®to take a safe political stance on the future of struggling small town Nova Scotia by sitting‚Ä®on the fence and letting frustrated municipal councils determine their own governance future‚Ä®and, ultimately, review by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Dissolution for urban core serviced towns like Hantsport and
Springhill and merging with existing or new electoral districts in an annexing rural unit does
not make political or economic sense.

The towns will always be urban units and the rurals always
rural with distinctive differences. It is a myth that the designated annexing unit will treat its new municipal family members
as economic and political equals. Not so, if the Canso scenario is a model for the Hantsport
and Springhill files.

It is understandable that citizens of a dissolving town will expect to receive the same tax rates as‚Ä®existing residential and commercial citizens in the new unit plus area rates for services not received for‚Ä®others. However, the receiving council, at its own discretion, may become creative and add a new rate to bring the total tax payable equal‚Ä®to or exceeding what citizens paid under its own town incorporation.

Apparently, as is the case of Canso, this new rate is not appealable. The new unit may‚Ä®also offer for sale many of the former town's public buildings and other infrastructure, and, with no offers or interest, may order‚Ä®them demolished. Greater still is the fact that the political voice of the dissolved town will become muted.

Hantsport has at its borders millions of dollars of residential assessment presently on the books of the‚Ä®municipalities of Kings and West Hants. Rather than seeking dissolution, the town council should have ‚Ä®requested a boundary review through the UARB. The extension‚Ä®of its boundaries with new assessment and the sharing of common services with one or more municipal‚Ä®units would keep the town economically viable for many years to come.

While I haven't visited historic Springhill‚Ä®in a number of years, I expect that the same scenario as that of Hantsport ‚ÄĒ a boundary review and sharing of services‚Ä®with County of Cumberland ‚ÄĒ may be a more viable and attractive alternative to dissolution.

Citizens should also
remember that should the above considerations not be the end result, the UARB must give consideration to
having dissolved towns continue as incorporated villages and this can be done within the same budget
parameters as with full dissolution and merger with an adjacent rural unit.

The governance future of the towns of‚Ä®Hantsport and Springhill is no longer with its respective town councils but with its citizens and the UARB, with‚Ä®the Government of Nova Scotia monitoring the situations as interested bystanders. Notwithstanding the above,‚Ä®province-wide municipal government reform is well over due but it will not happen without the full involvement of the‚Ä®Province of Nova Scotia and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

 

Frank X. Fraser,

Canso, N.S.

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Town of Hantsport

Geographic location: Hantsport, Canso, West Hants Cumberland Nova Scotia Kings County Municipality of West Hants Town of Hantsport

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Recent comments

  • be careful oldy
    August 14, 2014 - 12:14

    The folks of Hantsport didn't call hants border a parasitic community, the mayor did.

  • David Old
    August 12, 2014 - 21:08

    So Mr Fraser, (who comes from Canso) thinks Hantsport should seek a boundary review through the URAB. I think, (with all due respect), Mr. Fraser should mind his own business. Living in Hants Border, as I do, I have no wish to be gobbled up by Hantsport taxes. I am quite content to remain living in what folks from Hantsport call a parasitic community. Hantsport's problem stem from poor successive governance & a reliance in the past of financial support from the owners of the once three big manufacturing companies in the Town. Instead of investing in the future during the "good old days" Hantsport lived in the moment & now that policy has surfaced to bite them in the backside. No Mr. Fraser.... you are talking out of that same place. Stick to what you know ...not what you don't know.