Twenty years later

As CBRM marks a mile­stone, time to re­flect on the last two decades

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

If there’s one thing peo­ple in Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity are still de­bat­ing — af­ter decades — it’s whether we all be­long in the same pot.

The CBRM has now been in ex­is­tence, for bet­ter or worse, for twenty years.

Over the past two decades much has changed in the re­gion. Cit­i­zens have been rep­re­sented by many dif­fer­ent elected of­fi­cials, they’ve grown ac­cus­tomed to amal­ga­mated ser­vices such as the re­gional po­lice force and the public works depart­ment, and they’ve come to terms with the job losses and the per­ceived loss of com­mu­ni­ties that were a re­sult of the Sav­age gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to force amal­ga­ma­tion all those years ago.

At the time, those in power as­sured the good peo­ple of CBRM that this was in­deed for the bet­ter.

A quick glance at the chal­lenges of the day shows the re­gion was faced with a de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion, de­clin­ing rev­enue base and sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties over-run with the cost of man­ag­ing day-to-day busi­ness.

Since 1995, we’ve lost on av­er­age about 1,000 res­i­dents per year. Our pop­u­la­tion, which fluc­tu­ated be­tween 115,000 and 120,000 in the mid-to-late 1990s, stood at about 97,400 in 2011.

On July 31, 1995, there were 77 coun­cil mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing the eight for­mer mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that now con­sti­tute the CBRM. The first CBRM coun­cil meet­ing, which held amidst much fanfare at Cen­tre 200, boasted 21 coun­cil­lors. To­day CBRM is rep­re­sented by 12 coun­cil­lors.

And yet it seems those same chal­lenges of 1995 con­tinue to bur­den us.

We still need more jobs. We are still watch­ing our youth move away to start their fam­i­lies. And we are still ques­tion­ing whether our tax dol­lars are be­ing spent as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble.

Would the for­tunes of our com­mu­ni­ties be dif­fer­ent if the de­ci­sion to amal­ga­mate was never made?

That’s a hard ques­tion to an­swer; cer­tainly not one we will at­tempt a guess at. There are a few things we can say for sure though. You don’t need us to tell you the cogs that are the CBRM don’t al­ways roll smoothly like a well-greased wheel, but still there’s no deny­ing that oper­a­tions are much more cost-ef­fec­tive due to the fewer ad­min­is­tra­tors and the stream­lin­ing of de­part­ments.

There’s also no ques­tion that our small but mighty com­mu­ni­ties have con­tin­ued to strive, de­spite their lack of lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

We think that’s be­cause it is good peo­ple — not just good gov­ern­ment — that are needed to keep the vi­brancy of com­mu­ni­ties alive.

Chil­dren grow­ing up in CBRM to­day and those new to the area are still met with de­scrip­tions that in­clude places like Louis­bourg, Syd­ney Mines and Do­min­ion.

Thank heav­ens for that. We will al­ways need those com­mu­ni­ties and the peo­ple who iden­tify so strongly with them.

As we en­ter the next stretch of our quest to suc­ceed and to grow our lo­cal econ­omy we must take care to bal­ance the needs of our fu­ture and the im­por­tance of our sto­ried past with­out dwelling too much what might have been.

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is and al­ways will be what we choose to make of it.

For bet­ter or for worse.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.