Baie Verte LSD speaks out against amalgamation

Baie Verte LSD speaks out against amalgamation

Published Tuesday February 1st, 2011

Community Hall shows success of local governance, representative says

by meg edwards
Times & transcript staff

Click to Enlarge
Meg Edwards/Times & Transcript
The Baie Verte Community Hall is used for a variety of different activities and one advocate says amalgamation would hurt community centres like this one throughout the province.
The Baie Verte Community Hall sits amidst a pile of snow on a quiet rural highway. Its neatly plowed parking and steps welcome you into a warm building with clean wood floors and large windows letting in the afternoon sun. The view from the communal kitchen in the back of the building, as the sun sets over the marshes, would inspire a painter.

The hall reverberated with rhythmic drumming last Friday, as a West African Drumming workshop led by Kadijah Photiades from Digby, N.S shook the foundations. The next day it was filled with balloons for a family party. In the basement, the seniors of the surrounding area hold card parties every week.

Residents from Baie Verte and outside areas rent the hall for every conceivable event, from wedding parties to weekly belly dancing classes. The Local Service District Council, a small group of residents who volunteer their time to help run the small rural community, make decisions regarding the hall in terms of maintenance and upkeep, and they run it very smoothly.

Judicious budgeting and lots of volunteer work has kept the hall in excellent shape, with plans this year for a kitchen renovation. Co-operation between the Local Service District Council, the Baie Verte Community Hall Trustees and the Seniors Club has given the community a well-kept hall that they share with each other.

But would the hall be run as smoothly with distant bureaucrats pulling the strings? Secretary of the Baie Verte LSD, Steve Werry, does not think so. Werry is concerned that the move to amalgamate the municipalities, most recently taken up again by the Progressive Conservative’s Premier David Alward, is not going to be good for areas like Baie Verte.

Werry has written many times to Mike Olscamp, now Minister of Agriculture but once a Progressive Conservative MLA for Tantramar, arguing against amalgamation.

“Our current system of LSD management is extremely efficient, it doesn’t cost much, and it is responsive to local needs,” writes Werry, saying that rural residents are worried that although their taxes will go up with the proposed amalgamation, the services may actually decrease.

Gerry Chapman, an active member of both the Trustee Group and the Local Service District, says that amalgamation with Sackville would not be good for Baie Verte. Chapman says that most little communities fear being lost in the shuffle, “because you know what happens when the big brother takes over, the little brother loses out.”

Chapman says that it is the co-operation between all the residents that allows them to run the hall so smoothly, giving extra credit to the seniors for looking after their part of the building so well.

“If it wasn’t for them we would be hard pinched, they have been a benefit to us.”

Werry and Chapman see the stability of the hall and its constant use by the local population as an example of what can be achieved by local governance.

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