Look­ing to grow, again

Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque and Area propos­ing another amal­ga­ma­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE -

Growth is the buzz­word in the Bed­eque area these days.

Af­ter ex­pand­ing its bound­aries in 2014 to in­clude Bed­eque and Cen­tral Bed­eque, the Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque and Area is again look­ing to grow.

Its coun­cil wants to bring into its fold a large land­mass, spread­ing to the borders of Kens­ing­ton and Summerside, to the west, and Bor­den-Car­leton and Kinkora to the east.

“We want to re­tain our mu­nic­i­pal, our ru­ral iden­tity,” said com­mu­nity chair­man Ron Rayner. “We don’t want to be part of a big­ger mu­nic­i­pal­ity. They don’t have any­thing to of­fer us and we will lose our iden­tity.”

In Septem­ber 2013, the Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque’s leg­is­la­tors unan­i­mously passed a mo­tion con­sent­ing to amal­ga­ma­tion. A week later, the Com­mu­nity of Cen­tral Bed­eque fol­lowed suit.

Late last year, amal­ga­ma­tion of the two com­mu­ni­ties be­came of­fi­cial, re­sult­ing in the birth of the Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque and Area. It was then that Rayner and his six-per­son coun­cil be­gan dis­cussing an even big­ger amal­ga­ma­tion.

If ap­proved, the Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque and Area, now with a pop­u­la­tion of 320 peo­ple, would grow to more than 3,000.

Rayner said with Premier Wade MacLauch­lan’s re­marks ear­lier this year at the Fed­er­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties an­nual gen­eral meet­ing that “re­gion­al­iza­tion” of smaller un­in­cor­po­rated mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties would be a pri­or­ity, par­tic­u­larly with a re­vamped Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act ex­pected in 2016, be­ing proac­tive in invit­ing other com­mu­ni­ties into Bed­eque’s fold was vi­tal to its sur­vival.

“They want us to do this. They are very well be­hind us,” he added. “When we do this, Summerside will want to get big­ger. How far Kens­ing­ton will al­low them, I don’t know. If Kens­ing­ton is smart, they will get on the band­wagon and flex their mus­cle.”

But in or­der to grow, these smaller com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Chel­ton, Fern­wood, Lower Bed­eque, North Bed­eque, Mid­dle­ton, New­ton, South Free­town, Free­town, Sear­letown and Kelvin Grove, have to be on board.

In­for­ma­tion letters are be­ing mailed now to landown­ers in these ar­eas.

In four weeks, the Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque and Area will hold a public meet­ing where the res­o­lu­tion for the pro­posed an­nex­a­tion will be pre­sented.

If passed, the pro­posal goes to the mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs and plan­ning depart­ment for ap­proval, then to the Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peals Com­mis­sion, with town hall meet­ings held for res­i­dents in these com­mu­ni­ties and a vote taken.

Rayner and his coun­cil firmly be­lieve amal­ga­mat­ing with these com­mu­ni­ties is the only way to en­sure their com­mu­nity’s sur­vival and avoid­ing “be­ing swal­lowed up” by larger cen­tres in the wake of wide­spread pro­posed amal­ga­ma­tion set out in the 2010, Ralph C. Thompson re­port.

The re­port rec­om­mended sweep­ing changes to the borders of the province’s smaller com­mu­ni­ties, cut­ting the cur­rent 73 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties down to less than 20.

“With­out unity, with this whole thing, we are noth­ing. If we don’t suc­ceed, then we are gone un­der. The gov­ern­ment, at a flick of a fin­ger, can dis­solve the Com­mu­nity of Bed­eque and Area,” added Rayner. “There is strength in unity. That is our motto.”

NANCY MACPHEE/TC MEDIA

Mil­dred MacFar­lane stuffs en­velopes to be sent out to those re­sid­ing in the ar­eas that are pro­posed to be in­cluded in the amal­ga­ma­tion in the Bed­eque area.

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