Amal­ga­ma­tion with no con­sent

Har­bour Grace wants Bristol’s Hope to join mu­nic­i­pal­ity


The po­ten­tial amal­ga­ma­tion of Bristol’s Hope to Har­bour Grace is now a hot but­ton is­sue af­ter the lat­ter com­mu­nity’s town coun­cil voted in favour of a mo­tion last Wed­nes­day to merge the two ar­eas.

Coun. Tony McCarthy, the chair of the hous­ing and zon­ing com­mit­tee, made the mo­tion at the meet­ing. Only four coun­cil mem­bers were in at­ten­dance.

“I want to make a mo­tion that we di­rect the town man­ager to ap­proach mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs in ex­press­ing out in­ter­est in in­clud­ing Bristol’s Hope in the Town of Har­bour Grace,” he said. “We’ve looked at this in the past and we backed away from it tem­po­rar­ily.”

Coun. Hayward Blake was quick to sec­ond the mo­tion, which ended in a unan­i­mous vote.

“It’s long over­due,” added Mayor Terry Barnes.

Bristol’s Hope re­jects idea

But a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Bristol’s Hope told The Com­pass res­i­dents will never sup­port amal­ga­ma­tion.

Richard John­son, the chair of the Bristol’s Hope De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, is very dis­ap­pointed in what he calls a “tax grab” by the Town of Har­bour Grace.

“First of all, this com­mu­nity dates back to the 1600s, we have our own iden­tity,” John­son told The Com­pass. “It’s on its own. We have our own de­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tion put it place.

“They’ve been try­ing since the early 1980s to an­nex Bristol’s Hope. And two years ago it got turned down by Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs.”

In 2013, a let­ter was supplied to Har­bour Grace and John­son from for­mer Min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal and In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs Steve Kent re­ject­ing the idea for amal­ga­ma­tion un­der cir­cum­stances where both par­ties didn’t agree to it.

“It said there will be no forced amal­ga­ma­tion,” John­son read.

There are many is­sues, he said, adding to the frus­tra­tion. John­son said no one on the de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee of Bristol’s Hope was con­sulted by the town to dis­cuss the idea of amal­ga­ma­tion.

“Res­i­dents … do not want to even en­ter­tain the idea,” he added.

The com­mu­nity has its own wa­ter and sewer, mail­boxes and its own postal code, and com­mit­tee mem­bers took it upon them­selves to cre­ate road names and civic num­ber­ing.

The only ser­vice Har­bour Grace pro­vides to Bristol’s Hope at the present time, John­son said, is fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices, which they pay for.

Res­i­dents in the area went door-to-door col­lect­ing what­ever they could af­ford to en­sure they re­ceived fire pro­tec­tion in early Novem­ber 2013. It was the equiv­a­lent of about $50 per house­hold, John­son said.

Less than a month later, only two months into the term of the new town coun­cil, a mo­tion was made to have reis­dents of Bristol’s Hope pay $100 per house­hold for fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices.

“They have the au­dac­ity to turn around and charge us $100,” he said. “All be­cause they can’t get us as a tax base? It’s un­for­tu­nate they are act­ing this way.”

In the past

In the early 1990s, Har­bour Grace South and The Thicket were amal­ga­mated into the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Har­bour Grace.

A fea­si­bil­ity study was done by a group of com­mis­sion­ers in 1990, one of which was Har­bour Grace Coun. Gord Stone.

Stone helped cre­ate a list of five rec­om­men­da­tions in the re­port, which in­cluded an endorsement for the amal­ga­ma­tion of Har­bour Grace with Har­bour Grace South, The Thicket and Bristol’s Hope.

John­son moved to Bristol’s Hope in 1991, around the same time the re­ports were com­pleted. He said in all his years there, he has never heard any­one from the area say they want to join the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

For years Bristol’s Hope has been ap­ply­ing for Lo­cal Ser­vice Dis­trict (LSD) sta­tus, but so far, with no suc­cess. But they have al- ways con­sid­ered them­selves self­suf­fi­cient. But John­son hopes the ap­pli­ca­tion from Har­bour Grace gets shut down, and the com­mu­nity can get ap­proved as an LSD.

Pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions

A spokesper­son for the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal and In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs con­firmed to The Com­pass that in or­der for a mu­nic­i­pal­ity to be­gin the process of amal­ga­mat­ing with another area they must send a let­ter of re­quest to the depart­ment.

“A let­ter of re­quest should be made to the Min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal and In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs in­di­cat­ing ap­proval of the com­mu­ni­ties in­volved has been ob­tained and the par­ties are will­ing to fur­ther ex­plore po­ten­tial amal­ga­ma­tion/ an­nex­a­tion,” com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Kevin Guest said.

There also has to be a fea­si­bil­ity study done, like the one Stone was a part of in the 1990s.

In or­der for a town to take in another com­mu­nity, there must be a mu­tual agree­ment reached. He con­firmed the gov­ern­ment will not force amal­ga­ma­tion.

“As for Bristol’s Hope, this is an un­in­cor­po­rated area and as with any com­mu­ni­ties (mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, lo­cal ser­vice dis­tricts, un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas) in­volved in ex­plor­ing amal­ga­ma­tion/an­nex­a­tion, in this in­stance, both par­ties must be sup­port­ive,” Guest ex­plained.

As for John­son, he con­firmed he will spend ev­ery last cent he has fight­ing the amal­ga­ma­tion if it gets to that point.

“I will even take it to the Supreme Court of Canada if I have to,” he said.



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