Village chairwoman says change would not affect tax rate or mean community would have own police force
© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
North Rustico Mayor Anne Kirk
NORTH RUSTICO — Applying for town status is just one of the many changes coming to this north shore community, says the chairwoman of the village council.
Anne Kirk is quick to point out that she can’t take credit for being behind the application to move to town status — that decision was made by the previous council and supported by the existing one.
“When the new council got in we thought it was a really good initiative so we started working on it,’’ Kirk said on Wednesday.
She said town status will not affect the tax rate and it will not mean North Rustico will be getting its own police force, questions that residents have already asked.
“People have asked if we would be looking after our policing (needs). No . . . we don’t do that. That is a provincial responsibility.’’
If the provincial government grants North Rustico town status, the community will have access to grants it currently doesn’t have now. It also means council can pass budgets on its own without having to go to a village vote. It will also give the community more control over its finances.
However, Kirk has no intentions of secretly pushing budgets through. One of the changes she and council are making is to consult with residents in the community more than ever.
“We’ve gone to a new format for our council and it’s very transparent,’’ she said. “Before any projects or any activity in the village can happen everything is (thoroughly) discussed and people are made very aware of it.’’
Under the mentorship of Montague Town Council, North Rustico now holds a pre-council meeting where issues are discussed with residents two weeks prior to the actual council meeting.
Even though Kirk wants to consult with residents more than before, she still feels it’s important council have the ability a budget on its own.
“We’re in the middle of some really major projects right now and you need assurances in everything we do,’’ she said, adding it puts even more responsibility on council to be just as accountable.
The community is looking for a new nursing home to enable seniors to stay
in the community and generate jobs and economic activity. It’s also hoping
to add “quaint little
retail stores’’ along the waterfront. That’s goes along with a new sewage system, developing a community plan and bylaws and real estate matters.
The last community to change to town status was Borden-Carleton in August 2012.
A spokesman with the province’s Municipal Affairs Department said North Rustico’s application is for change of status only and that it does not involve any changes to boundaries or liability assets.
The application requires approval from cabinet and the lieutenant-governor.