GUYSBOROUGH – At a special meeting last Wednesday, Mulgrave council voted to withdraw its application to the UARB for dissolution. The town had been pursuing amalgamation with the neighbouring Municipality of the District of Guysborough. UARB hearings were scheduled to start next week.
Guysborough council met earlier Wednesday afternoon and rejected the final financial offer from the province to support the amalgamation. Once this impasse was clear, Mulgrave “wanted to get it off the table sooner as opposed to later so everyone could be notified,” said acting Mulgrave CAO Kevin Matheson.
“Our position was there is nothing to gain by going through a contested hearing.”
Now Mulgrave must explore other options. The town is trying to schedule a meeting with the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Matheson said the message from the town to the province is that “we went through the process you asked us to go through. It wasn’t successful with Guysborough. Do you have any other suggestions?”
Matheson said it’s not unusual for small towns in Nova Scotia to struggle with sustainability. He expects the province will be of assistance in an advisory role as this process continues.
For MODG, the numbers just didn’t work. Guysborough had hired engineering consultants to look at the infrastructure deficit in Mulgrave. They put the cost of addressing those needs at $35 million. The government’s offer of assistance was much lower.
“For us it’s a closed file,” Guysborough CAO Barry Carroll told The Journal Monday.
MODG Warden Vernon Pitts told The Journal he was “sorry the process didn’t bear fruit.
“I have respect for the Province, I have respect for the people of Mulgrave and their council,” he said.
MODG issued a statement on Wednesday stating the reasons behind it’s rejection of the province’s offer. “The financial offer contained in the ‘Letter of Intent’ is inadequate and would not be able to address this significant infrastructure deficit,” it said. “Other issues remain that have not been resolved to the satisfaction of the municipality. These include the pending closure of the school and possible future disposition of the building; the inadequate solution to the Province taking over Route 344 that runs through the Town; and the ongoing issues with the new water treatment plant that have been unresolved, plus the escalating water rates paid by residents.”
MODG currently provides waste collection and planning services to the Town of Mulgrave.
“This is a difficult but necessary decision for Guysborough Municipal Council. Our first responsibility is to the residents and ratepayers of the municipality, and there is no way that we could accept the significant financial and environmental liabilities associated with this potential amalgamation.”