UPDATE: New Glasgow, Pictou, Municipality to pursue shared services, governance

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NEW GLASGOW – Despite Tuesday’s announcement that the province would be pulling its funding toward a Pictou County governance study, three municipal units are forging ahead. 

The Town of New Glasgow announced Friday afternoon that they would enter discussions with the Municipality of Pictou County and Town of Pictou to develop a memorandum of understanding on things that are critical to respective municipalities.

The Towns of New Glasgow and Pictou along with the Municipality of Pictou County are collaborating to develop a memorandum of understanding on items critical to their respective municipalities while putting a new system of governance to deliver services.

New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan made the announcement Friday morning in the presence of Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes, Municipal Deputy Warden Andy Thompson, New Glasgow town council and members of the public.

“It is premature to say what the changes will look like, but we are not waiting,” said MacMillan. “We are moving forward. We are a coalition of the willing.”

He did extend an invitation to the other municipal units, the towns of Stellarton, Westville and Trenton, noting they could get onboard should they so choose.

“Once that MOU is developed we are going to share it with the other towns,” he said. “They will have a short time to reflect on the terms, consider them and either get on board or not.”

The trio anticipates having the memorandum of understanding in place by June 1 and aims to start deliver services in a potentially new way this fall.

“By April 1, 2015, we expect the governance and operations in this county will look very different,” said MacMillan.

Several services already shared among Pictou, New Glasgow and the county were touted at the announcement. Currently, IT services, business development services, building inspection, land use planning, some communications services, Pictou County Investment Strategy and the NSBI Investment Readiness Strategy are joint efforts. Bringing two cruise ships to the region this fall was also a shared initiative.

“The Municipality of Pictou County are good neighbours and partners with New Glasgow. We believe in a co-operative approach to local government in Pictou County,” said county Deputy Warden Andy Thompson. “Our warden and council have taken this co-operative approach on a number of initiatives with the Town of New Glasgow.”

While MacMillan noted the plan came together in a few days, Hawes said there had been informal discussions about the three units moving forward for the last few months.

“We waited for the governance study, and I didn’t think it would work to be honest with you,” he said. “We may be the smaller one of the group, but we’ve got a lot to offer and we’ll all benefit each other.”

The announcement from Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey that the province would be pulling its $150,000 of funding for the governance study turned out to be the impetus that the three municipal units needed to move forward.

“This is to everyone’s benefit and Pictou’s council is of one mind on this,” said Hawes. “What’s good for one is good for all.”

New Glasgow’s CAO Lisa MacDonald there is considerable overlap in approaches at the three municipal units, from financial software to street infrastructure rating systems.

“Sometimes you have to proceed with those who have a regional vision,” she said. “This has taken place through open dialogue. When there’s a regional discussion we want regional action to follow.”

MacDonald noted that some people talk regional but act local and cited New Glasgow’s closing of the John Brother MacDonald stadium to support the Pictou County Wellness centre as an example. 

“We stepped up to the plate on this issue to support the region.”

Representatives from Stellarton, Westville and Trenton weren’t present for yesterday’s announcement. MacMillan noted that there was no reason they weren’t informed.

“It was New Glasgow’s announcement. We invited the county and Pictou, because we are partnering with them,” he said. “It is my sincere hope that the other towns will come on board.”

Stellarton and Westville’s mayors were only aware of the other three units’ initiative after yesterday’s announcement.

“I wasn’t aware of it and we weren’t invited,” said Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe. “We’ll have to wait and see if we want to be a part of it. That would be a council decision.”

 

john.brannen@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Pictou County

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Recent comments

  • Can T Believe-It
    March 30, 2014 - 14:42

    Doubtful, Cathy, Callie, One guy-One voice, Stellarton resident, etc. c’mon, just c’mon! Sorry but the ignorance and resulting attitude displayed by you illustrates the worst in Pictou County. Look at some facts please. Starting with New Glasgow haters...the facts show NG has been the leader in establishing mutually beneficial partnerships on the most important issues we face - on infrastructure, services, culture, etc. all of which benefit the region. (Including with towns outside this latest effort) The towns not included (so far) have simply been bad actors, who say one thing and then do something else, take for themselves and still cry when they can’t get more, more from their own neighbours. Thanks to other commenters here who have also taken on the negative, ignorant, unproductive and harmful opinions expressed.

  • alex
    March 30, 2014 - 14:32

    well, my opinion is that I would like to see the NEWS do a little story on amalgamation- go back to the start, and who was on board and who was not- as the story moves along, and with no meeting of the minds, I think the provincial government stepped in with an offer to fund part of the study if all parties would agree- time passed, nothing changed, but as businesses left NG, and other buildings closed, or were abandoned, and seeing now other industries closing or downsizing, or just hanging on, some decided now is the time, but they let province off the hook- they backed away - no next move is who? time is passing, tax dollars are being spent, and nothing is getting better yet- too many arenas, too much duplication of services and political and technical management, so talking shared services protects many of those positions and tax payers get to pay yet again- so, get on with amalgamation, and save the taxpayers before they are totally bankrupt---and set one tax rate for , the entire district, with add ons for services not common in all areas, and you county types, you have to pay more too because you want to enjoy the townie roads and businesses, so you are a part of the picture too- no more free rides- your location might give you a lower assessment, thus a lower tax total per year, and that is all you or anyone can claim - fair means fair to all, not just fair in your own eyes-

  • County resident
    March 30, 2014 - 13:46

    In reference to Glenn's comment..."One Police station, one fire station". Time for a reality check, folks! If a fire or emergency occurs in River John, Mt. Thom, Garden of Eden or Barney's River, and the response is from a central fire station, say, in New Glasgow, watch your insurance rates skyrocket as your communities are woefully under-served. Geography and common sense dictate this is a foolhardy idea. County residents already get fire protection at a bargain now (look up the word VOLUNTEER). If you think this is a money-saving move, you are sadly mistaken! Do some research!!

  • Heddins
    March 30, 2014 - 01:46

    So Calli, am i to assume that you never drive into any of the towns to go to work, do your shopping, and that you never partake in any entertainment (other than what goes on in "THE MUNICIPALITY"??? I find it hard to believe that in this day and age you are able to get all of your needs met in the country! Maybe we "townies" are tired of subsidizing the residents of the municipality with actual modern day services! Maybe we should have a toll booth at each of the town entrances, in order to pay for the public works, fire, policing, etc services that municipality people use each and every day in Pictou County! Come on people, give your heads a shake! You cannot differentiate when you leave one town and drive into another! Everyday we act as 1, let's stop paying for 6!!!!! And Cathy, how do you KNOW the other 3 weren't invited? Do you have an inside track to what goes on municipally?

  • Doubtful
    March 29, 2014 - 22:30

    Shared services is a great thing. Should have been done ages ago. Why not? New glasgow always wants to rule the roost. I know they don't want hear this, but any step into this should be eyes wide open. One of the biggest impediments to working together has been attitudes. Drop them and we have a good future. New Glasgow?

  • Cathy
    March 29, 2014 - 18:02

    The problem folks is the other 3 towns were not invited to the table.

  • Glenn MacLeod
    March 29, 2014 - 10:23

    Here! Let me make it simple a growing number of people in Pictou County want one mayor and council. One Police and fire station and one CAO and Town Engineer and crew. There! discussion over.

    • Callie
      March 29, 2014 - 15:57

      My fear is that we (municipality) will have to infuse monies into agendas of the towns, things many of us from the municipality may not use. Such as the white elephant (money pit)"Wellness" Centre. Every time someone purchases a home in NG, the purchaser has to pay 1% towards this monstrosity. It is for those who have "disposable" income. And do not benefit those of us who do not, Not only do they pay the 1%, they then pay to join/membership fee & monthly dues. Most people today cannot afford this-much less the extra travel to the building from outside the towns. The closing of community rinks etc will follow. I can see those with the largest population base benefiting and those of us in the municipality picking up scraps- much the same as now in council proceedings. Municipal needs are not met unless we have counselors who are willing to fight for what we need, and not bow to pressures of the towns. We've been there before and have struggled to make headway with infrastructure that could have taken place when the cost was much less than when it was finally deemed OK and have to now pay the inflated cost.

    • Stellarton Resident
      March 31, 2014 - 11:05

      Totally agree with what Glen MacLeod is saying!! although I could see one variation being the four upper towns merging, and Pictou dissolving into the county. It is shameful that our county has only three less municipal councilors than the city of Toronto!!!!

  • Pictou County Resident
    March 29, 2014 - 07:12

    At least with this setup, hopefully us county residents will not be paying via increased taxes for the excesses in some of the towns. A great move by the county leadership to look at shared services instead of amalgamation that would have seen our tax rates soar. Bravo!

    • Townie
      March 29, 2014 - 18:48

      In your comments, you forgot to thank those of us in the towns who help subsidise you 70 cents on the dollar policing and your use of the provincial highways department for servicing, plowing, etc. of you municipal streets. If you live just outside these nasty towns then you might also have tapped into the water & sewer lines that were bought & paid for by those same nasty townies. Your Welcome.

  • One guy, one voice
    March 29, 2014 - 00:22

    It's pretty simple to understand really, who's leading the charge here on the whole issue??? The answer........the one with the most to lose, and has the biggest hand to grab everything up with. NG needs this to work, the rest of us don't!

  • Ian
    March 29, 2014 - 00:03

    Congratulations to the mayors and wardens of New Glasgow, Pictou and the County for wanting to move forward. The town councils of Westville, Stellarton and Trenton are being shamed for their inaction. Taxpayers should revolt!

  • Stellarton Resident
    March 28, 2014 - 21:07

    Sounds very similar to 3 kids going to whisper in the corner, leaving everyone in the dark. Cooperation is a good start, but its only part of what needs to be done. They need to eliminate the overlap in the political arenas. HELLO.....talk about duplication..... "Coun. Bob Naylor noted that there are 44 councillors for the city of Toronto compared with 41 in all of Pictou County." http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/52811-pictou-town-councillors-rethink-one-big-unit-concept

  • westville resident
    March 28, 2014 - 13:14

    Bravo to the County and towns of New Glasgow and Pictou. You 3 have and are showing that a little set back is not going to make you roll over and die. The other 3 towns if they want can join in but I doubt it as they are so lost in this whole matter. keep it up peopel Pictou County will be a better place for it.

  • concerned
    March 28, 2014 - 13:02

    With all due respect-how is taking the lead a "knee jerk reaction.."? Something needs to be done by somebody. The province has stepped away and now we are in a quagmire. Until action is taken the status quo remains and I would suggest the status quo is not an acceptable plan for the future. In the absence of the govt study at least 3 of our 6 areas have agreed to do something constructive. If any of the other 3 areas not listed decided to join in - all the better. Could it be possible the 3 that are not included didnt want to participate? I dont know the answer to this but I applaud the positive action of the 3 who have stepped up in the interests of exploring a better way forward for the greater whole of our region. More citizens need to discuss this matter and perhaps our politicians will respond in kind. We need positive change...this could be a step in that direction.

  • Stellarton Resident
    March 28, 2014 - 12:41

    Another perfect example of how the divided political structure around here is a joke. 3 towns taking a knee jerk reaction and going off on their own. This will last til the infighting begins and then it will die like the rest of the agreements. Smoke and Mirrors is a wonderful thing. The A word for this is "A" temporary solution for permanent problem. The provincial government needs to step in, they need to bring our political system and structure into the 21st century, the one from the 1950's is not working and will continue to frivolously waste tax payers hard earned money. In fact I would love to hear why the other towns are NOT included in this partnership or lack of.....

  • One Guy, One Voice
    March 28, 2014 - 11:57

    Here it comes!

    • Jim-Bob
      March 30, 2014 - 14:01

      Bravo to the un-invited, why do you think the Major winner out of all this would rank so high(oops) I mean so low twice in 2 years in Moneysence Magazine? What town or community in their right minds want to be dragged down by hitching their star to such Losers,remember also Who has been Running that fateful Town for the same time.

    • Fact Teller
      March 31, 2014 - 13:35

      Jim-Bob - Sorry to say but since you like to throw stones and use the term "loser", when it come to knowing what one is talking about, it looks like you are the uninformed loser. The Moneysense rating is for an area where 35,809 people live. That's right, its not the Town of New Glasgow which is only around 27% of the total. Who else is in there? Trenton, Stellarton, Westville and nearly 15,000 people from the county. So who is dragging down who? Certainly the uniformed Jim-Bob should not be given any credit for either knowledge or community mindedness.