Amalgamation possible job creator: Baillie

Christopher Cameron
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PC leader stopped in Pictou County Tuesday as part of provincial tour

MOUNT WILLIAM – Amalgamation, a topic that is all too familiar to Pictou County residents, should help bring jobs to the area according to Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie.

At the Wellness Centre on Tuesday night for the PC Jobs and Economy Tour, Baillie was asked about natural resources, government investing in small business, buying local, the Ivany Report, amalgamation and multiple other topics relating to jobs and the economy.

The stop in Pictou County was the final one of the provincial tour, with more than 65 people in attendance, including a handful of local municipal councillors.

During the open forum, Municipality of Pictou County councillor Robert Parker spoke about farming, DSME Trenton and the trend of big business getting more provincial government support than small business.

He then asked Baillie’s thoughts on amalgamation and Regional Enterprise Networks (REN) before stating that the Municipality of Pictou County is in the process of joining Cumberland County’s REN.

“Amalgamation, according to the Ivany Report, is supposed to create jobs, but I’m not convinced yet that if Pictou County amalgamated tomorrow that you’d suddenly see trucks rolling in over Mount Thom to set up business,” said Parker.

Further to that comment, Parker asked if amalgamation was necessary or if municipal units working together would end in the same result.

He also suggested Baillie’s opinion would be relevant as he lives in Springhill, where the town passed a motion in March to dissolve its status as a town as of March 31, 2015.

“Everywhere I go, I sense a real frustration from people that they’re not getting a say in how they’re governed at the municipal level,” said Baillie. “Yes, they elect councillors, mayors, wardens and so on, but we have towns and counties like Springhill, my own town, where the tax rate is $2.52 per $100 and the commercial rate is pushing $6. Compare that to whatever your taxes are. People are moving out of town specifically for that reason. It’s not sustainable.”

Comparing the residential rates to Pictou County towns, Springhill was higher even in 2012-13 at $2.25. New Glasgow and Stellarton were the lowest in the county at $1.82. Westville was the highest at $2.09, with Pictou and Trenton falling in between. The lowest town in the province was Antigonish at $1.00.

Comparatively, the Municipality of Pictou County had a $0.81 residential rate in 2012-13.

“We absolutely need to do a reorganization at the municipal level and that requires some leadership from the province,” said Baillie.

He didn’t touch on the province pulling the plug on the Pictou County governance study in March. At that time Nova Scotia Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey said they would invest their tax dollars and resources on advancing change with municipal units that might be interested in it.

“But ultimately I believe that the best way to get there is to ask the people themselves for a mandate for a municipal reorganization,” Baillie said. “That’s how we’re going to break the logjam that’s occurring in too many communities around the province.

“Will it create jobs? Well, if we end up with a more efficient and affordable municipal form of government, yes, that helps with the cost of living and helps with attracting new jobs and investment to Nova Scotia.”

Other solutions Baillie discussed were allowing more immigrants to move into the province and for the government and people of Nova Scotia to stop saying “no” to various industries. He touched on the west to east pipeline, mining and other industries tied to natural resources.

“We talked about some things tonight that are a little edgy like finally standing up to the people that say ‘no’ to everything and allowing a few jobs to flow from our natural resources that we have all around us and so on,” he said. “I just think it’s important that people know where we stand.”

Asked if he would be in favour of cleaning up Boat Habour if it would affect jobs at Northern Pulp, Baillie said he wants the pulp mill to continue to operate and that they should be able to keep jobs at the mill after cleaning up Boat Harbour.

“Cleaning up Boat Harbour and putting in place a new system that’s environmentally sustainable secures the future of the pulp mill,” he said. “I expect the mill owners to make investments in the mill that make it more environmentally friendly and I’m encouraged by some recent announcements like the precipitator that they’re going to build at their expense. All of that, along with the governments commitment to clean up Boat Harbour is about making Pictou County ready for the jobs of the 21st century.”

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Organizations: Regional Enterprise Networks, Ivany, Wellness Centre

Geographic location: Pictou County, Springhill, Cumberland County Nova Scotia New Glasgow Stellarton Antigonish

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Recent comments

  • On the sidelines
    June 26, 2014 - 07:39

    People need to study what amalgamation does for an area. There's a professor at Dal who has studied this issue and he would tell you that at first there may be savings, but then the costs start to grow and end up costing more. Look at NG and Westville - shared service helped Westville at first, then the costs grew punative - costing Westville far too much to operate. Anyone in a regional government will tell you that this governance model increases costs.

  • alex
    June 25, 2014 - 18:06

    well, my opinion is like this- if I went to a gas station, and 5 people came out to pump my gas, 5 to clean my windshield, and 5 to check my oil, with 5 also to chat, I think if at the next gas station, only 1 came out to pump the gas, and clean the windshield, check my oil and wish me a good day, that the second station might be operating more efficiently, and cost the owners a whole lot less to run- does anyone see a comparison, or would you like to approach government to pay for a study to look into it, that you will eventually disagree with, and pay for another study, an another, until someone's friend gives you a study that has the result you want instead of the one you need. As long as us taxpayers let the 5'ers do it, they will, and collect, and collect, and collect... and taxpayers wonder why they pay such high taxes------- and one more thing, level the tax rate playing field, as those who pay so much less still come into town to shop, eat, drive on the roads, enjoy things, its ime to pay you way, and yes, we all should pay the same rate, with add ons for extra services, it would be fair-

  • Another Stellarton Resident
    June 25, 2014 - 15:45

    Anything (anybody) that helps rid Stellarton residents of their present council, has my support.

  • NoFool
    June 25, 2014 - 15:13

    Let's be honest here- The meeting was a gathering of local PC's with a handful of others thrown in. Why would they schedule this the same night as prom. Baillie has a problem with those who advise him on a number of issues. The majority of them being from the Rodney gov't.

  • vennah
    June 25, 2014 - 14:12

    Please note Mr. Baillie does not live in Springhill Cumberland County .I believe he resides in HRM. The residential tax rate in Springhill is $2.25 per hundred and commercial is $5.53 per hundred . Mr Baillie should know that considering Springhill is his own town.

  • Roger
    June 25, 2014 - 10:56

    The residents of Pictou County as well as each of the five towns in the county should be disgusted at the lack of will by politicians to make an effort to consolidate. No one will lose their community, what you will lose is four of the six municipal units, two of the four police agencies and a redundancy if municipal offices. However, you will have almost al of the same people that exist now, working together to provide a broader service. I've lived and worked in Pictou. County and it baffles me that this cannot be accomplished.

  • more of the same
    June 25, 2014 - 10:44

    Jamie . How many times can you flip flop the same waffle in such a short period of time . Just read your presentation to the NSUARB about Springhill . You say nothing there about the Ivany Report or that Springhill is not sustainable . All you talked about in Springhill was of the citizens having a voice but outside of the area you say the Province needs to force the amalgamations . In Springhill you were very much on the fence hum and hawing not sure amalgamation was better or not . . You need to quickly correct the record with a re-submission to the NSUARB giving them your true feelings about Springhill's application for joining the County .

    • Citizen Joe
      June 25, 2014 - 19:39

      Jamie Baillie is at it again. Back in March when Springhill was faced with some difficult financial decisions Jamie stated that Amalgamation was a good thing, that he supported Springhill in making this move, that at least 10 other Towns are in simular financial shape and must consider amalgamating with their Counties. It was stated that the Provincial Government wants to decrease the number of Councillors, at present the County has 10 and Springhill has 5, a total of 15, if this amalgamation goes through there will be a total of 10 Councillors and because of the population, Springhill will be divided in population numbers only so they have equal representation. Since the May 1st by the concerned citizens committee, Jamie flip-flopped on amalgamation; he is now saying there must be a plebiscite and for the citizens to decide. This process has been tainted by the Concerned Citizens Committee going to senior complexes, low rentals and into stores. to get a list of names that was originally to be used by the Committee to get answers to questions, and not at some members stated it was a list of people against amalgamation. The average citizen does not know what is best for Springhill, they do not have to pay the bills or be accountable. Now, Jamie appears to be siding with members of the Citizen's Committee purely for selfish reasons, like getting elected again. Many of the executive members of this Committee were instrumental in getting him elected. He is supposed to represent the best interests of the people in Springhill and Cumberland County. With a large portion of these citizens being seniors or low wage earners they have to be carefully considered. Many seniors have worked all their lives to finally own a home, without mortgage, and now they struggle to stay in them because of the Power and fuel bills as well as, the high taxes. Its time for Jamie to see where his bread is buttered, because it will be by those low wage earners and senior citizens coming out next election to vote for or against him. Springhill will still be Springhill, Town or Community

  • NO NO NO
    June 25, 2014 - 08:08

    Possible is the key word. Pretty no committal really.