What community looked like fifty years ago is not what community looks like today. A couple of years back a customer told me how she grew up in Lunenburg and her father never forgave her for moving away. I asked her where she went and she replied, Chester. I laughed, but she didn’t. That’s because I didn’t grow up in Nova Scotia. I never got to witness a time when being from The Town of Lunenburg or being from Blue Rocks was as different as being from Montreal or Toronto. I love these stories and embrace the history of this place that I now call home, but our history is not our present day reality. Municipal government needs to respect our history, but reflect the community of today.
Off the top of my head, I can think of six Lunenburg business owners that live within biking distance to town, but cannot vote in town. There is nobody shaping our community more than our small business owners. When people invest time, money and love into a community, they should be allowed to have a say in the community’s direction.
Visit Lunenburg’s incredible Farmers Market and you will see what today’s community actually looks like. Every week people flock to Lunenburg from our entire county, not just to buy fruits and vegetables, but to grab a coffee and a pastry and catch up with friends.
On my son’s twenty minute ride to the French school, he travels through three municipal units. The Blue Nose Academy now has students from outside the boundaries of the town. All the children of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay will eventually attend high school in Bridgewater. Our community has expanded. Whether the issue is affordable housing, climate change, population decline, small business, or straight pipes, we are all invested in our neighbouring communities and we will do a better job of confronting these challenges as a single unit.
There are many people dead set against amalgamation. I have heard arguments that amalgamation has often proven to not save money. Comparing amalgamation in HRM or in Ontario to the amalgamation of five tiny units into one small unit is to compare apples and oranges. We would not be creating a huge, inefficient bureaucracy. I think everyone already agrees that sharing services is a good idea. I hope it is also obvious that five CAOs, five deputy CAOs and 30 councillors for 47,000 people is not what efficient government looks like. But mostly, what I hope will become clear is that the boundaries of our Municipal Governments no longer reflect our community and I think the true reason why many are dead set against amalgamation is because they are holding on to a vision of community that no longer exists. They are holding on to a time when Lunenburg and Blue Rocks and First Peninsula were truly separate. That former version of community was beautiful, but our present day reality is pretty awesome, too. Our municipal government should be reflective of today’s community, not the community of fifty years ago.