Councillor says serious discussion needed on governance issue

Sueann Musick
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PICTOU – A county councillor wants to see more action when it comes to getting governance headed in the right direction. 

Coun. Robert Parker asked his fellow councillors during a financial services meeting Tuesday when they were going to stop talking about leading the way in a memorandum of understanding with the Town of New Glasgow and start having some serious debate on the issue that could lead to decisions finally being made on the topic.

“When do we take a leadership role and decide where this is going?” he asked. “We had a statement, but it’s not clear when we make the decisions and we sit together as a council and decide this. If we don’t provide direction, I am not sure the staff will know what we want.”

Earlier this month, Deputy Warden Andy Thompson started a council meeting by reading a statement that county council would be taking the lead and setting the terms for the proposed memorandum of understanding between itself and the Town of New Glasgow because it is the largest of the six municipalities.

He said the other four towns not involved in the initial press conference hosted by the Town of New Glasgow are encouraged to take part in the discussions, but county council will lead the way and protect the interests of its residents, municipal taxpayers and assets when coming up with a new strategy for governance.

Parker expressed his disappointment at the time that other councils had to learn of the proposed MOU though the press and Tuesday he said he is still waiting to find out when council will be tackling the “big issues.”

He said action also needs to be taken on developing RENS which will replace the former Pictou Regional Development Agency but on a much larger scale.

Warden Ron Baillie said RENS organizers met in March, but a snowstorm prevented anyone from the area from attending so now he is planning to speak to those in charge at an upcoming mayor’s conference.

He said the province has agreed to let the six municipal units of Pictou County join together with other areas such as Truro and Cumberland, but the process is not on a fast track to being completed.

“I’d love to have RENS over with, but it is dragging out all over the province,” he said. “There are things taking place. We are meeting on a regular basis, trying to get things solved, but it takes time.”

Baillie said the biggest difficulty with getting started on the MOU, is finding time when all of council can be together to focus on the topic. He suggested that council meet on a Friday night or Saturday to start discussions, but Parker said he wanted to see more serious debate on the topic by county councillors before the terms of reference are in place. 

He suggested that council not hold itself to a deadline to get the terms completed, but start with serious discussions that could lead to some positive actions.

Council agreed to have county staff send out a list of dates as to when members could come together and begin the process.

Organizations: Pictou Regional Development Agency

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Pictou County

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