Jamie Baillie isn’t letting up on this issue. But he’s got a point more and more people are coming around to: that Nova Scotia is over-governed. And nowhere is that more reflected than in the number of tiny municipalities around the province not overly confident of survival.
The Conservative leader reiterated his thoughts on the subject Wednesday in the media, a followup to comments last week after the announcement that the Town of Springhill would dissolve and join Cumberland County.
A push to consider amalgamation is not new, of course. But Baillie is shaking the tree in his call for the provincial government to move on the exercise of amalgamating municipalities where it would benefit. The municipalities left to themselves, he argues, are making no progress.
In the history of this province, those would have been fighting words 20 years ago. Local political conversation in some parts politely refrains from use of the ‘A’ word.
After some earlier discussion and studies, first stabs got off to their shaky start under the Savage government – and any perceived failings in Halifax Region and Cape Breton Region are still held up by those opposed as the benchmark.
Later governments, notably John Hamm’s Conservatives, backed away from any notion of forced amalgamation, and the hands-off approach has pretty much stuck.
Baillie’s call to bring the issue back to life has plenty of credibility in the release of the Ivany report – and in comments from Ray Ivany himself that moves such as Springhill’s are inevitable given economic pressures in towns of smaller population.
Whether Baillie will get anything more than passing acknowledgement out of the governing Liberals remains to be seen.
But on that score, we should note that the general outlook now is not what it was 20 or even 10 years ago.
The difference now is more people are already calling for the same thing as Baillie. And of those who aren’t, a lot more are willing to listen and discuss new options.