Looking to grow, again
Community of Bedeque and Area proposing another amalgamation
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.”
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.