Premier Rodney MacDonald’s campaign promise to review amalgamation in the Halifax Regional Municipality is drawing interest in two regions of Cape Breton, if not for amalgamation at least for municipal reform.
Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean says he is still interested in pursuing amalgamation of the town with a neighbouring county, and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Deputy Mayor Clarence Prince says he would welcome a review of amalgamation in the industrial region.
MacDonald said last Saturday if re-elected the Conservatives would hire an independent agency to review amalgamation in HRM, where many people have complaints about tax rates and the level of services provided by the regional municipality.
MacLean has advocated amalgamation for Port Hawkesbury and said the premier’s announcement opens the door for a new debate about municipal tax reform.
Prince, a former councillor and mayor of Sydney Mines prior to CBRM’s creation in 1995, said although amalgamation has benefited urban residents, he admits it has upset those in rural areas who say they are paying more taxes but receiving fewer services.
If the province is reviewing HRM, he added, it should conduct a review of CBRM, the province’s second-largest municipality.