CBRM mayor meets with municipal affairs minister to seek solutions to financial woes
Nova Scotia's municipal affairs minister isn't making any promises after meeting with Mayor Cecil Clarke to discuss the Cape Breton region's serious financial problems.
It took most of the morning, but in the end, Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke left a meeting shaking hands.
But still, after hours of discussion, the future viability of the municipality remains unclear.
"Were there commitments today to say I'm going to write a cheque? No, there were not," Porter said. "Let me be clear. We know there are challenges and the mayor has been very good at outlining those. We had great discussion about potential options and will look at every program that does exist."
According to a study released by accounting firm Grant Thornton, the CBRM won't be viable if people continue to leave the island.
The mayor requested to meet with Porter after the report was released, and called Thursday's meeting an effort to work collaboratively with all levels of government.
"There are issues that are specific to the CBRM and there are issues that are systemic and challenges for us, and there's shared issues," Clarke said.
Cape Breton University political science professor David Johnson says he's not surprised the province didn't make any financial commitment.
"The quick thing any provincial government could do is decentralize some of the jobs out of Halifax," Johnson said about moving some of the public sector positions out of Halifax to Cape Breton and other parts of rural Nova Scotia.
Johnson says Nova Scotia has the most centralized public service in the country. The study listed 20 recommendations, which included cutting costs, increasing revenue, and attracting more businesses to the area.
"A lot of municipalities should probably look at something similar because I think it set the priorities for the council going forward and it allows them to come to the provinces and the feds and say these are some of our challenges," Porter said.
The mayor will now take information from the meeting back to council, with plans of meeting with the province again in the future.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore.