Res­i­dents voice con­cerns over amal­ga­ma­tion

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY KATHER­INE HUNT

Pos­si­ble mis­in­for­ma­tion and a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion were com­mon themes among the res­i­dents at a pub­lic hear­ing Wed­nes­day on the pro­posed Three Rivers re­gion amal­ga­ma­tion. Dur­ing the more than three­hour meet­ing at Mon­tague Re­gional High School the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who spoke voiced their con­cerns over the pro­posed es­tab­lish­ment of the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The amal­ga­ma­tion would join Cardi­gan, Mon­tague, Ge­orge­town, Val­ley­field, Lorne Val­ley, Bru­denell and Lower Mon­tague. The meet­ing was put on by the Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peals Com­mis­sion, which now holds the de­ci­sion over whether to amal­ga­mate the seven Kings County mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. IRAC will sub­mit that de­ci­sion to gov­ern­ment within 45 days. Terri Welsh of River­ton brought the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sue to the fore­front. She said she was in the dark about amal­ga­ma­tion un­til two years ago when a neigh­bour told her their com­mu­nity was in­cluded. Amal­ga­ma­tion talks have been on­go­ing since 2013. “We did not re­ceive a no­tice in the mail, noth­ing to in­form us that we’re part of this,” she said. “This was not com­mu­ni­cated to a great deal of com­mu­ni­ties who didn’t get their mail from Cardi­gan post of­fice.” Scott An­n­ear, mayor of Lower Mon­tague, first said that is­sue has been re­solved. “We spoke to this at the first meet­ing that we were at,” he said. “We weren’t aware that River­ton has two dif­fer­ent post of­fices, so we did ad­dress that in the fur­ther mailouts.” Welsh said she still has not re­ceived any­thing in the mail, which she gets from Mount Ste­wart. “Frankly, if you’re do­ing that level of re­search, how on earth are we sup­posed to trust any­thing you’re do­ing if you can’t ac­tu­ally look at where peo­ple are and where some­thing as sim­ple as their mail comes from,” she said. An­n­ear re­sponded with, “I guess we made a mis­take.” Kelly Camp­bell of Kin­ross said he has seen two ver­sions of the pro­posed amal­ga­ma­tion map; one has Kin­ross on it, while the other doesn’t. An­n­ear said it would de­pend on which fire depart­ment Camp­bell would con­tact in an emer­gency. Un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas in the amal­ga­ma­tion are from three fire dis­tricts — Mon­tague, Ge­orge­town and Cardi­gan. “The map has my house in the Three Rivers amal­ga­ma­tion even though we are part of the Ver­non River fire district,” said Camp­bell. “Just bring­ing to your at­ten­tion that the map is in­cor­rect and does have ex­tra com­mu­ni­ties in­volved that have not had a say in this process so make note of that.” An­n­ear said the map was pro­vided by gov­ern­ment. J. Scott MacKen­zie, the chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of IRAC, said they will look into the mat­ter of the op­pos­ing maps. For now, it is still based on the fire dis­tricts. “I think it’s fair to say that if there’s an er­ror on the map what will be de­ter­mined is whether you’re in those three fire dis­tricts be­cause ... that’s the ref­er­ence that’s be­fore us,” said MacKen­zie. A plebiscite was held in Jan­uary by res­i­dents of the un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas. Of roughly 2,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers, there was a turnout of 1,250 with 1,174 votes against amal­ga­ma­tion.

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