GUYSBOROUGH – The amalgamation of Mulgrave with the District of Guysborough may not go as smoothly as Canso’s amalgamation with MODG did in 2013.
While there is still the possibility of reaching an agreement in the coming weeks, the Town of Mulgrave, MODG and the province are preparing for a contested hearing with the UARB in late March.
“Our big concern is protecting the ratepayers from our municipality,” said MODG’s CAO Barry Carroll in an interview with The Journal Tuesday.
The main stumbling block is a $35 million infrastructure deficit, as calculated by consultants hired by the District of Guysborough.
“MODG does not want to take on that liability,” said Carroll.
Earlier estimates from the province pegged the infrastructure deficit in Mulgrave at $20 million.
This deficit comes from numerous sources, including Mulgrave’s problems-plagued water treatment plant, which is still not operational.
Early in the discussion around amalgamation, much attention was placed on the highway going through the town. The municipality wants the province to maintain that highway, as it does with other roads. But with new awareness of other problems, Carroll said the highway issue is now just “one-sixth” of the problem.
“Who is going to pay?” he asks about the $35 million deficit. He noted that Mulgrave has only 700 residents and they can’t afford to be saddled with these costs.
At its committee-of-the-whole meeting last Tuesday, Mulgrave council discussed the upcoming hearing.
Individuals wanting to address the hearing must apply to the UARB by March 7.
Four days have been set aside for the hearing, starting Monday, March 20 at the Mulgrave Fire Hall. Individuals would be heard on the evening of March 20 in Mulgrave and on March 21 in Guysborough.
If the parties reach an agreement in advance, it is expected that the schedule will be reduced to one day, Mulgrave’s acting CAO, Kevin Matheson, told The Journal.