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Municipal candidates want further study on amalgamation

by Paula Levy

 BRIDGEWATER - Less than half of the candidates running or acclaimed in the Municipality of Lunenburg election on October 18 took part in an amalgamation debate hosted by the Bridgewater and Area Chamber of Commerce.

 The posed motion on October 2 was whether or not each of the candidates supported amalgamation with the Town of Bridgewater.

 The answer was an overwhelming "don't know" by the three mayoral candidates and the seven councillor candidates who attended.

 "I cannot and I will not answer the question with a simple 'yes' or 'no,'" said mayoral candidate Don Downe, who spoke first on the municipal side. "This is an issue that requires a tremendous amount of study and tremendous amount of involvement by the community."

 Mayoral candidate Elmer Garber said he is not hearing amalgamation as an issue on the minds of voters

 "I don't believe it's a burning issue for residents of the district of Lunenburg. I'm not hearing that on the doorsteps," said Mr. Garber. "I believe that we would be better served by spending our time and efforts to extend co-operative efforts and partnerships to jointly provide services."

 Mayoral candidate Aubrey Silver said he was not in favour of amalgamation.

 "As far as the motion is concerned, I'm against it," said Mr. Silver.

 "I went through this thing one time before. … It didn't work. It won't work now."

 District 11 candidate David Cook said, "If asked, it would be a definite 'maybe.'"

 District 10 candidates Vernon Cornish and Lee Nauss agreed and both abstained from voting.

 Mr. Cornish said the municipality has a lot more pressing issues trumping the amalgamation issue such as recruitment of health care workers and the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre.

 Mr. Nauss said he could support amalgamation if everyone could benefit. But as of right now, there is no proof that amalgamation would be beneficial.

 All of District 3 candidates Frank Fawson, Rick Hebb and Mike Mawhinney would not support an issue that hasn't been publicly discussed.

 Mr. Fawson suggested holding a plebiscite to ask voters. Mr. Hebb said unless constituents request amalgamation, he would not waste time or taxpayers' money on the issue. Mr. Mawhinney agreed. He said he could not offer a "yes" or "no" answer.

 District 1 candidate Basil Oickle abstained. He said there have been no studies on the issue.

 "There is a lot more issues that have to be addressed," said Mr. Oickle.

 In a question from among the about 64 audience members, each of the candidates were asked what is the single most pressing issue they're hearing in the constituency during their campaigns. Those issues were stated as leadership, sustainable communities, tax review with community input, roads, recruitment of health care workers and education.



posted on 10/07/08
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