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Elections Nova Scotia

Bedford-area candidates discuss HRM amalgamation

Elections Nova ScotiaAfter unsuccessfully trying to organize a candidates Q&A/debate, the Bedford Community Council Association queried all Bedford-Birch Cove and Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville candidates on the issue of amalgamation and community representation.

All candidates were asked the same three questions:

1. If elected, will you initiate and support a review of the HRM structure to provide for better localized community representation and spending authority for the community of Bedford?

2. Will you ensure that community interests and input are included and considered as the first priority in any such review?

3. Will you vote in favor of the required amendments to the HRM Charter/legislation if and when it is presented to the Provincial Legislature?

The council received answers from four of the eight candidates. The following are the candidates responses (listed in alphabetical order, by riding):

Bedford-Birch Cove Progressive Conservative Candidate Len GoucherBedford-Birch Cove Progressive Conservative Candidate Len Goucher

1. If elected, will you initiate and support a review of the HRM structure to provide for better localized community representation and spending authority for the community of Bedford?

“Yes. Our government has already said it would initiate a review. It has been 13 years since the Liberals brought in amalgamation and it is prudent to review the current system.”

2. Will you ensure that community interests and input are included and considered as the first priority in any such review?

“Yes. Having served at both municipal level for 15 years and provincial level for the past three years, my commitment has always been to the residents first.”

3. Will you vote in favor of the required amendments to the HRM Charter/legislation if and when it is presented to the Provincial Legislature?

“Yes.”

mosher-smBedford-Birch Cove NDP Candidate Brian Mosher

1. If elected, will you initiate and support a review of the HRM structure to provide for better localized community representation and spending authority for the community of Bedford?

“Thirteen years ago, the NDP was the only party to oppose the imposition of HRM amalgamation. The Progressive Conservative government, which fell in 1993, first advanced the idea, which was then adopted and implemented by the Liberals. At the time, Darrell Dexter served on the last City of Dartmouth Council and opposed the creation of HRM.

“It is curious that the Progressive Conservatives under Rodney MacDonald have chosen to make a review an election issue, as their government only just enacted a new Charter for HRM last fall. At that time, Premier MacDonald failed to bring the proposal for a review to the Legislature for consideration.

“That would have been the appropriate time for all MLAs, particularly those representing HRM ridings, to consider whether a review – that might potentially lead to a new governance structure – was appropriate.

“Darrell Dexter and the NDP have concerns regarding the impacts of amalgamation on the communities of HRM. The NDP plan, Better Deal 2009, commits to putting the Legislature back to work for Nova Scotians.

“The NDP will ask legislative committees to take on real work, developing proposals, and fostering citizen engagement. We will allocate time for substantive debate in the House. The issue of a review of HRM is ideally suited for such work.

“As Bedford area MLAs, we will ask a standing committee of the Legislature to hold hearings on the proposal for a review, to determine more precisely the level of public interest, and the goals and scope of any such review.”

2. Will you ensure that community interests and input are included and considered as the first priority in any such review?

“Were such a review to take place, public participation and community input would be absolute priorities.”

3. Will you vote in favor of the required amendments to the HRM Charter/legislation if and when it is presented to the Provincial Legislature?

“Any answer to this question would be too hypothetical, especially when no party was willing to bring such an amendment forward during the 2008 debate on the HRM Charter.”

Bedford-Birch Cove Liberal Candidate Kelly ReganBedford-Birch Cove Liberal Candidate Kelly Regan

1. If elected, will you initiate and support a review of the HRM structure to provide for better localized community representation and spending authority for the community of Bedford?

“If elected, I will consult via a variety of methods with the people of Bedford – District 21 to see if it is their wish to have a review of the HRM structure.

“I believe that saying I will work to change the HRM structure before I know whether that is what residents want is putting the cart before the horse. I believe that people are rightly frustrated by a lack of action on facilities, and less by the governance model; but until residents are consulted on that question, I cannot know for sure.”

2. Will you ensure that community interests and input are included and considered as the first priority in any such review?

“I have pledged that, if elected MLA, I will hold public meetings so citizens will be able to voice their concerns to me. It has been years since our MLA has held a public meeting. So yes, I would be happy to seek out and include community interests and input; this is what an MLA is supposed to do.

“I will also seek input from the community via other methods as well.”

3. Will you vote in favor of the required amendments to the HRM Charter/legislation if and when it is presented to the Provincial Legislature?

“I would like to consult with the citizens of Bedford before voting for or against major legislation. And I believe it would be irresponsible for me to say I will vote for or against something before I see what the legislation says.”

Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville Green Candidate Shawn Redmond Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville Green Candidate Shawn Redmond

“If elected as an MLA for Hammonds Plains-Sackville I will support a review of the HRM structure.

“As a Green Party member, community input is a large part of our comprehensive platform.

“Voting in favour of amendments to the HRM charter would be part of a drive to involve all communities in ground up decisions concerning how and what monies are spent.”

Responses were not received from Bedford-Birch Cove Green Candidate Neil Green as well as Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville PC Candidate Barry Barnet, Liberal Candidate Patrick Doyle and NDP Candidate Mat Whynott.

Final Note from Bedford Community Council Association

As mentioned, the Bedford Community Council Association attempted to organize, on behalf of all residents of the community, an open Q&A/debate with the candidates for Bedford-Birch Cove.

Unfortunately, the campaign office for the PC candidate advised that he did not have any available time in his schedule for a Q&A/debate and the campaign office for the Liberal candidate advised that she was not interested in being involved in a Q&A/debate that did not include the incumbent.

Although the campaign offices for the Green and NDP candidates indicated that they would attend should such a session be held, the BCCA executive concluded that to hold such a session, with only two of the four candidates present, would not provide the community with sufficient information. Therefore, the planned session did not proceed.

Therefore, we trust that the above answers might help residents of the Bedford-Birch Cove and Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville ridings make an informed decision on Election Day.

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