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Bridgewater members say no to amalgamation

by Keith Corcoran


Bridgewater candidates attending the October 2 forum, from left, Jim Bell, Patrick Hirtle, David Mitchell and David Walker.
 BRIDGEWATER - There were two nos and two abstentions from four of the candidates seeking council seats in this town when asked if they would back a Bridgewater/Municipality of Lunenburg amalgamation.

 Without completed studies on the idea, a gauge on cost implications, if any, and the support of residents, no one was prepared to say yes.

 Candidate and incumbent David Mitchell said it's not a decision council itself should decide alone. He said he would abstain.

 "We have to put this to the people whether it's in a plebiscite or in some other form and let the people decide because once you do it you can't undo it."

 Incumbents David Walker and Jim Bell said they feel a joint council committee is already working on ways to regionalize services between the two neighbours.

 Both of them said they'd vote no for now.

 Candidate Patrick Hirtle said he too would abstain but is open to giving the idea further study.

 Town council candidates responded to the amalgamation question during an October 2 forum involving council candidates running in town, in the municipality and for mayor in the Municipality of Lunenburg.

 On a subsequent question regarding future study into amalgamation, Mr. Bell said it's not worth doing if it doesn't benefit the municipalities involved.

 Mr. Hirtle said the Municipality of Chester and towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg should be consulted. He added the co-operation that is currently working and the potential impact amalgamation could have on the municipal workforce have to be taken into consideration.

 Mr. Mitchell said right now there's no interest from the public to see amalgamation happen.

 "I think until we hear directly from the people that they want us to go forward and look at amalgamation as an option, I think we have more important issues to deal with."

 Bridgewater candidates said on the doorsteps they've heard taxation and the cost of living are among the issues foremost on the minds of the electorate.

 Candidates also addressed questions about the support of local businesses beyond the borders of Nova Scotia, public transit in the county, opportunities for youth and what they'd do to help speed up the process to get the recreation centre up and running.

 Other Bridgewater candidates, Kevin Marlin, Bev Brown, Bill McInnis and Greg Ritcey, were no shows. Mayor Carroll Publicover, who was acclaimed, wasn't present although he received an invite from the host, Bridgewater and Area Chamber of Commerce.

 A few had e-mailed the chamber to express disappointment with the format, which was primarily based on the amalgamation question. E-mails sent by Mayor Publicover, Mr. Marlin and Ms Brown obtained by this newspaper suggest the chamber would have been better off with separate forums for each municipality, better lines of questioning and more liberal time limits for candidates to answer questions.



posted on 10/07/08
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