The warden of Richmond Co. says he’s concerned with a proposed charter for their counterparts in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Bill 85 passed second reading in the provincial legislature recently, and was before members of the Law Amendments Committee Monday.
Officials with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, who declared their support for the bill, say they’re aware of the need to respond accordingly if the change does lead to a ”race to the bottom” as some have suggested.
After March’s regular municipal council meeting Monday night, Brian Marchand, Richmond Co.’s warden, told The Hawk the proposed permit to sell or lease certain property for less than market value, which is Clause 1 of the bill, isn’t fair to other municipalities.
“Definitely it’s not fair, especially with the Strait Port looking to bring in a container terminal,” he said. “Those people have stated by that company, they bought all the land at fair-market value, so it’s definitely putting them at a disadvantage.”
Marchand said councillors have sent a letter of support to their counterparts in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, where proponents are working toward development of the proposed Melford International Terminal.
He said he hopes things are thought out by provincial officials.
“We just want to be on a level playing field,” he said. “Companies are coming to look and invest in our area, (and) they want to make sure that the governance piece is stable, that rules aren’t changing just haphazardly.”
Bill 85 will next have to be discussed at the Committee of the Whole House meeting, then third reading before it would eligible for Royal Assent.
Marchand said he doesn’t think provincial officials will tip the tables unfairly.
“I believe that the government will be fair in this going forward,” he said. “If they see any concerns, I mean there’s changes that maybe had to be made; they are looking at the whole Municipal Government Act, and are going to be making some changes.”
Marchand said he hopes the ability to sell or lease certain land for less than market value is granted to officials in every municipality.
He said he’s not against another clause as part of the bill which allows CBRM officials ”to enter into a taxation agreement with the owner of an eligible industrial property.”