We are Stronger Together

Posted by One Pictou County on 6 May 2016

Last week, Doug Griffiths, an MLA from Alberta, visited Pictou County to share the wisdom he has gathered from working with communities in his province. He said that communities need to create their own solutions to their challenges and that those solutions are often found through working with your neighbours.

That, in a nutshell, is the goal of amalgamation in Pictou County.

Mr. Griffiths echoes advice in the “Now or Never” report released in 2014 which talks about the need for our communities to work more closely together. Soon after, a grassroots group of independent citizens called Pictou County 2020 began a series of consultations to help people in this area envision their future.

Hundreds of people attended these sessions. They consistently identified the need for unification, regional government, less red tape, working together to achieve common goals, and eliminating competition and duplication of services between municipalities. We’ve also heard concerns about population decline, school closures, employment opportunities, fair taxation, and the lack of one vision and plan for this area.

We responded by coming together to study municipal reform. It’s been discussed in Pictou County since the 1800s, but the proposal that is before the people of Pictou County is by far the most comprehensive and thoroughly vetted. It is also the first time that the people of Pictou County have a say through the Utility and Review Board process and the plebiscites on May 28.

To help citizens decide how to vote in the plebiscites, we’ve been sharing information online, at community meetings, and through other opportunities. This information sheds a positive light on amalgamation because that’s what the evidence shows.

Amalgamation is a big step forward to reduce duplication and competition for scarce resources, add more specialized expertise, allow better planning for our region to attract new business, grow our population, and take care of our people. Greater efficiency in one municipality means everyone will pay lower taxes for the same or better services. This evidence was reviewed by qualified, independent auditors who agree with our financial projections.

There was a time when several municipalities in this area made sense. But that time has passed. Today, we need one municipal government working for the benefit of all our communities.