During a pair of special meetings last night, both the Town of Antigonish and the Municipality of the county of Antigonish voted in favour of investigating and gathering the information needed to consider consolidating the two municipalities into one regional government.
A joint press release states the exploration phase of a potential consolidation involves assessing
if residents, businesses, and communities would be better served by combining efforts on all municipal services such as recreation programs and facilities, events attraction, tourism, land use planning, solid waste management, infrastructure planning, and community economic development.
In the release, Mayor Laurie Boucher said the municipal bodies strengthened their working relationship over the past few years, adding they are exploring consolidation as strong municipalities and not while one is in crisis.
Boucher and county Warden Owen McCarron spoke with the media jointly following the meetings. Boucher said the process won’t be rushed and everyone’s voices will be heard. When asked about costs associated with the exploration process, the mayor said they are doing it in partnership with Municipal Affairs, adding there was provincial support for the Windsor-West Hants consolidation process.
In the release, county warden Owen McCarron stated the two municipal bodies see consolidating as an opportunity to have a greater community impact to better serve the people
that live and work in the communities.
McCarron said both parties are committed to a lot of community engagement to make sure their voices are heard and questions are answered. As for a timeline, McCarron said some of that will be determined as they move forward. With that, he noted we are three years out from a municipal election and if it is the will of the councils and the community to move towards consolidation, that is a time line that could work.
The next steps will include looking at the Windsor-West Hants model, and meeting with Municipal Affairs to see how they worked with those municipalities. Both councils will meet with other councils as well that had a successful consolidation.