03/06/2014 11:38 EST | Updated 05/06/2014 05:59 EDT

Springhill, Nova Scotia: Town's Dissolution No Surprise To Man Who Led Economic Study

HALIFAX - A decision by Springhill council to dissolve the town in northern Nova Scotia isn't surprising, but it is a recognition by local councillors that something had to be done to deal with its financial problems, says a university president who led a panel on the province's economic future.

Acadia University's Ray Ivany said Thursday he expects a number of other municipalities will be faced with decisions similar to that taken by Springhill because of shrinking populations and economic decline.

Ivany said the move by Springhill is consistent with the analysis in the panel's report released last month, which warned that Nova Scotia faces a bleak future unless population and economic trends are reversed.

"We're at a point now that you can't make the numbers work when you look at the changes that we've had in our population demography," said Ivany. "Unless something else changes on the economic side, the equation just won't work."

He said the positive aspect of Springhill's decision is council's realization it had to change to adapt to its circumstances.

"It's more a matter of taking control of your circumstances and deciding what will work here," he said.

Ivany spoke after appearing before the legislature's economic development committee.

Springhill council voted this week to dissolve its status as a town and join Cumberland County by April 1, 2015. Mayor Maxwell Snow said council felt it had no choice after years of dealing with rising costs, a decreasing population and outmigration.

Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey has said as many as 12 towns and municipalities are facing financial problems similar to Springhill, and that some are now willingly discussing solutions that include amalgamation.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has called on the government to push through municipal changes on its own.

But Premier Stephen McNeil said the government remains committed to co-operating with what municipalities want.

"We are allowing municipalities to determine their own destiny when it comes to municipal government," he said.