Growing our Economy Together

Posted by One Pictou County on 10 May 2016

Creating fertile ground is key to growing a thriving local economy. One municipality making efficient and timely decisions on municipal planning, bylaws and consistent administration for most of Pictou County will help create that fertile ground.

The evidence we gathered shows that amalgamation will create a governance and staffing structure that is well positioned to focus on municipal planning that will encourage economic development. A smaller, more cohesive council brings an opportunity to build a team approach with a regional vision. A single council, rather than four, will support efficient decision making.

Some suggest the status quo is working just fine. The evidence we’ve gathered does not support that point of view. In its preliminary decision, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board concluded that “the status quo governance model has often frustrated attempts at business development as the four individual municipal units have competed with each other for growth. As the Board heard at the hearing, this often led to business prospects deciding to go elsewhere instead of starting a business in Pictou County and dealing with several different municipal planning or administrative regimes.”

Having quality infrastructure in place is important for attracting new businesses. Through our funding agreement with the provincial government, we’ve secured the ability to address the significant infrastructure needs of our communities, if amalgamation happens. Using this investment, some of our reserves, and some modest long-term debt, the New Municipality will invest $69 million in infrastructure over the next five years with no increase in rural or town taxes. We’ll be able to complete some projects that we’ve been trying to do for years.

In reviewing the evidence and public submissions, the Utility and Review Board acknowledged “the inherent disadvantages of several relatively small adjoining municipal units attempting to provide infrastructure to their respective residents with scarce sources of funds.” The board concluded that they “found no comfort that the future would be any different under the status quo in terms of addressing important infrastructure needs for the region.”

The proposal for amalgamation will not solve all of the problems we face but it is a significant step forward. It is an opportunity to build on our collective strengths. Together, we have the assets, opportunities and human capital to build a positive future and be a driver of economic growth in our county and our province. Not one of our municipalities can do this alone.

In its preliminary decision of April 29, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board concludes that with respect to the financial, social, governance, administrative, planning and infrastructure needs of the community, amalgamation is in the best interests of residents. The board’s decision is thorough and detailed and provides citizens with a good understanding of the evidence that was considered, including submissions from the public. Voters are encouraged to review this information before casting their vote. Read the Utility and Review Board's Preliminary Decision.