Thumbs down from province on Shelburne annexation

Amy Woolvett amywoolvett@thecoastguard.ca
Published on February 11, 2016

Mayor for the Town of Lockeport, Darian Huskilson, Warden for the Municipality of Shelburne, Roger Taylor and Mayor for the Town of Shelburne, Karen Mattatall.

SHELBURNE - When three municipal units met last week with the provincial advisor to discuss annexation, they were told there would be three people would come out ahead if the two towns were to pursue the matter – the lawyers.

According to Lockeport Mayor Darian Huskilson and Shelburne Warden Roger Taylor, as well as the Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall, they were told by provincial advisor Mark Peck that no application for annexation has been supported by the Utility and Review Board or the province. He told them in this process no one ever wins.

“It was frustrating,” said Huskilson. 

The municipal unit officials were asked point blank if they had hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw at the application process.

It didn’t take long to turn the conversation to amalgamation once again.

Huskilson said his town had no desire to consider amalgamation. Taylor, as well, rejected the idea saying it would not benefit the municipality financially.

“To do that would be putting municipal rate payers at risk,” he said.

Taylor still maintains the town dissolving would benefit the joining together of the two units the most.

“It would make the whole operation more efficient,” he said.

He said the municipality takes in $35,000 on every cent on the tax rate while the Town of Shelburne only takes in $8,500.

“That’s a big difference,” he said.  “Their long-term viability is in jeopardy…unless something happens what exists right at this time to grow the town? I don’t see anything.”

But Mattatall said they didn’t pursue amalgamation.

“We started the process to improve governance and service delivery for all residents and not because we were in financial difficulty,” she said.  “It seems the more discussions I am involved in, the less I feel that this can be achieved through dissolution.”

Despite the growing tensions and inability to see eye-to-eye in talks on amalgamation, annexation and dissolution; Huskilson said his focus from now on is how the three units can work together for the good of the residents.

“We still share invisible borders,” he said.  “Let’s work together, upgrade and provide better services together.”

He hopes to bring the three units back to the table, this time to talk about shared services and projects they can tackle together.

“The governance structure isn’t going to save us,” he said.  “At least if we start meeting we can find places we can get along, rather than picking at places we don’t.”