Plenty of op­po­si­tion

For­mer may­ors blame Mon­tague of­fi­cials for quit­ting the game

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - THE GUARDIAN

East­ern P.E.I.’s largest town has quit the game be­fore even go­ing to bat for the pos­si­ble fu­ture of a re­gional mu­nic­i­pal­ity, say two for­mer may­ors.

“This is the first time this re­gion has ever sat down to dis­cuss such a pos­si­bil­ity, and the town is al­ready pulling out be­fore the talks are even to start,’’ said for­mer mayor Mer­rill Scott. “It’s an ex­tremely poor de­ci­sion.”

The town of Mon­tague an­nounced last week that it would not pro­ceed with talks on the re­gional mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Three Rivers based on the cur­rent bound­aries. The seven com­mu­ni­ties in­clude Ge­orge­town, Cardi­gan, Lorne Val­ley, Mon­tague, Bru­denell, Val­ley­field and Lower Mon­tague.

The town wants the bound­aries to be changed to in­clude the town’s cur­rent fire district, which would cut out Ge­orge­town, Cardi­gan and Lorne Val­ley.

Mean­while, the six re­main­ing com­mu­ni­ties are pro­ceed­ing with­out Mon­tague, which could even­tu­ally lead to the cre­ation of a Three Rivers mu­nic­i­pal­ity that would sur­round Mon­tague.

“Opt­ing out this early leaves us with­out any in­put into the fu­ture of this process,’’ said for­mer mayor Pat McGowan. “It’s a very poor de­ci­sion.” McGowan said the pos­si­ble amal­ga­ma­tion of 8,000 peo­ple from Lorne Val­ley to Pan­mure Is­land is far too big an is­sue for elected of­fi­cials of the largest town to sit on the side­lines and wait to see what hap­pens.

“It is to­tally un­fair of Mayor Richard Collins and coun­cil­lors to make a hasty de­ci­sion, es­pe­cially when the mayor was tout­ing that he would hold a town plebiscite be­fore sign­ing off on a re­gional mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” said McGowan. “It is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to join the other com­mu­ni­ties and stay un­til the end of ne­go­ti­a­tions. When it’s all over, then they can make an ed­u­cated yes or no de­ci­sion based on the out­come of those dis­cus­sions.”

Scott said a “tax freeze” could eas­ily be ap­plied dur­ing the dis­cus­sions to al­lay the worst fears of some ru­ral res­i­dents who are op­pos­ing amal­ga­ma­tion for that one rea­son.

“The govern­ment isn’t push­ing this down any­one’s throat, they are ask­ing us to start at the grass­roots and work our way up to a so­lu­tion,’’ he said.

“But how can we find a so­lu­tion when some of the fam­ily won’t come to the ta­ble?”

Both for­mer may­ors say they have heard noth­ing but dis­ap­point­ment from lo­cal res­i­dents over the past week. They said even the busi­ness com­mu­nity en­dorses the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity as a way to in­crease the tax base, as well as gas tax in­creases, and re­duce the num­ber of com­mu­nity elected of­fi­cials in the seven com­mu­ni­ties from 49 to eight.

Scott and McGowan said they are not en­dors­ing a new and larger mu­nic­i­pal­ity at this point A 4-night stay at Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, BC, re­turn air­fare from Char­lot­te­town via Air Canada and a Bud­get rental car – to­tal value of more than $7000! It seems si­lence is golden when it comes to com­ment­ing on the fu­ture of the Three Rivers re­gional mu­nic­i­pal­ity. “We’re dis­ap­pointed Mon­tague has pulled out, but I would ask that all coun­cil­lors re­frain from mak­ing any com­ments.” Mayor Lewis Lavandier de­liv­ered that cau­tion to his sixmem­ber coun­cil Mon­day night dur­ing the town’s monthly meet­ing. “The six com­mu­ni­ties are pro­ceed­ing and we will be meet­ing this week and I will keep you ap­prised.” — just the “golden” op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss the pros and cons of such a pro­ject.

“If this doesn’t go ahead now, in five years you will have all new elected play­ers in the game and seven com­mu­ni­ties that don’t have enough money to do things on their own.” Join us for the 12th an­nual Nor­tons Raz­zle Daz­zle Gala. It’s a grand way to help raise es­sen­tial funds for the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion. Pur­chase tick­ets at:

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