03/10/2014 10:30 EDT | Updated 05/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Ex-mayor and member of legislature to oversee Springhill's demise as a town

SPRINGHILL, N.S. - A veteran of municipal politics in Nova Scotia has been tapped to oversee the decision by Springhill to dissolve itself as a town after 125 years of incorporation.

Municipal Relations Minister Mark Furey said Monday that John Leefe understands municipal reform and the challenges facing communities.

Leefe is a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and was elected mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality three times before stepping down in October 2012.

Furey said Leefe will bring experience to the job, having helped to successfully steer the town of Liverpool's amalgamation into a regional government in 1996.

"Mr. Leefe was a key individual in that change and the outcomes that municipality experiences to this day," said Furey.

Leefe called the pending changes for Springhill and Cumberland County a "tremendous opportunity for ratepayers."

"It's always a cathartic experience to change 100 years of history," said Leefe. "But circumstances change and circumstances now require that Springhill move forward to resolve the challenges it faces."

Leefe said the examples of previous rural amalgamations in Queens and in Canso-Guysborough give him confidence the changes can be managed successfully in Springhill's case.

Springhill council voted last week to dissolve itself in favour of joining the Municipality of Cumberland County by April 1, 2015.

At the time, Mayor Maxwell Snow said council felt it had no choice after years of dealing with rising costs and a decreasing population.

Snow said he was pleased that Leefe will help co-ordinate the change.

"It's very important that we move forward to ensure the long-term viability of Springhill," said Snow.

An application has been filed with the Utility and Review Board to approve the town's decision.