December 30, 1994 Halifax Herald
The debate over the province's plan to amalgamate the various entities of metropolitan Halifax into one city has left me with some confusion about what the word "super" really means. In my mind, it has always meant something awesome or, at the very least, superior. The dictionary supports this conclusion.
Now we see the word "super" liberally used in describing the size of the proposed new city of Halifax. The word is being used in the face of this fact: on a world population scale, with approximately 320,000 souls, our new city would be placed firmly in the company of the "super" small-fry. On a Canadian scale, it still would wind up in the small category. However, after being elevated by its expansion to the lofty heights of becoming the country's 13th largest city, a "super" small-fry designation would no longer apply. To put the population thing into perspective, the entire population of the Atlantic provinces, plus the populations of one or two of the prairie provinces, would not equal the populations of either metropolitan Montreal or Toronto.
After examining the histories, or using personal knowledge garnered from the experience of living within one of the parts that will constitute the new city, one soon appreciates that the word "super" is not entirely out of place when used in connection with the area. For instance, over the years we have known "super" bickering among the various jurisdictions and "super" duplication of government services - which sees us having mayors, aldermen, police chiefs, executive assistants, directors, superintendents, etc., coming out of our collective ears - altogether resulting in a "super" waste of our tax dollars. In my estimation, any one of the before-mentioned should put us in a "super" rush to get the process completed.
The worst result of the over-government we suffer is that a decision cannot be got out of them for even something as basic as disposing of the area's future garbage. When it comes to garbage, there is considerable urgency to finding an alternative for the present site; after all, we cannot continue to dump indefinitely on poor Sackville. However, under the present system, related to the procrastination it encourages, Sackville may be buried under a "super" mountain of garbage before relief is found!
Many have criticized the method employed by Premier John Savage in getting the amalgamation process started. I ask those critics: How else, without opening up an era of "super" bickering, could it have otherwise been accomplished? In view of the procrastination record of the area's politicians, the debate about the mechanics of resolving the amalgamation issue would surely, if Savage had not acted, lasted until at least the twelfth of never. In this case, the Premier did the right thing and should be commended for his decisiveness.
What kind of place will Halifax be to live in after its borders are expanded? In addition to it becoming an efficiently governed entity, it will continue to be one of the best places in the country - or, for that matter, in the world - to reside. In my time, I've lived in Toronto, New York city, Boston, and other delightful places; and I can say without hesitation that our town takes a back seat to none of them. From this point of view, it is without question a "super" place to live!
Will Dartmouth, Bedford, etc., disappear entirely from the map after the process is completed? I hardly think so, or at least not for a long time to come. This statement is supported by the fact that, within the present boundaries of Halifax, after the passage of more than a quarter of a century since they were incorporated into the city, such places as Spryfield, Rockingham, etc., continue to exist as communities within a community.
Who will govern our new city? This is something that will need to be well thought out before amalgamation takes place. I would hope that whatever format is eventually selected, it will be simple and manageable. Also, when structuring Halifax's new Charter, care must be taken to insure that it will be very difficult for any future civic politicians, who may harbour visions of grandeur, to build tax wasting empires.
On the political front, several individuals are already running for the position of Mayor. One disappointment has been the announcement of no interest by Dartmouth's Mayor, Gloria McCluskey. From discussions with others, as well as personal exposure to her down-to-Earth leadership style, I think it will be a sad loss to the community if she can't be persuaded to reconsider.
Have a "SUPER" day!
Daniel N. Paul