Former Kentville mayor remembered as passionate defender of town
Former Kentville mayor Art Pope, who died Friday at age 87, is being remembered as someone who fought for his town and wouldn’t back down from the provincial government or his opinions.
“Art was very passionate about the town,” said town councillor Bill Boyd, who was hired as the town’s recreation director and later as chief administrative officer during Pope’s time on council.
“He was very dedicated serving the town and he always made decisions based on what he thought was in the best interest of the town and to make it a better place to live.”
Pope was first elected as a councillor for two consecutive two-year terms starting in 1960. He won a byelection in the early 1970s and served eight more years, including six as deputy mayor. In 1991, he was elected to council again, before becoming mayor three years later.
In a 1997 interview about his decision not to run for another term, Pope said his “love of politics and being a municipal politician is unconditional.”
He said then that one of his proudest achievements during his last stint was the town turning its finances around after having a $200,000 shortfall in 1993.
It was during his term as mayor that the decision was made to sell Kentville’s electric utility to Nova Scotia Power, something that raised the ire of many in the town but left it with a $10-million perpetual fund that has since generated $7 million to $8 million for town projects.
“That was a pretty significant event during Art’s tenure,” Boyd said.
“If you are firmly convinced what you are doing is the right thing ... you should stand by it,” Pope once said of his willingness to make decisions knowing they might prove unpopular.
Pope also butted heads in 1997 with the Liberal provincial government of the day after it cut $300,000 of promised infrastructure funding for the town. He publicly rebuked the province for backtracking after the town put out money for engineering studies and called tenders.
“Certainly he was not afraid to challenge provincial ministers in a public forum with regards to making sure the town was looked after,” Boyd said. “Art wasn’t afraid to stand up and be counted when it came to fighting for the best interests of Kentville.”
Pope was a Canadian army veteran who was wounded in Holland near the end of the Second World War and remained afterward with the occupation forces in Germany before returning to Canada and working as a commercial traveller and retailer.
He also volunteered with Hockey Nova Scotia and the Kentville Lions Club.
Pope is survived by his wife, three daughters, two sons and seven grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. James Anglican Church in Kentville.