‘Cards on the ta­ble’

Meet­ing tonight for un­in­cor­po­rated area res­i­dents in Three Rivers amal­ga­ma­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MACDON­ALD

John Walsh doesn’t want to buy into some­thing if he doesn’t know what he’s ac­tu­ally get­ting.

Hav­ing lived at his Burnt Point res­i­dence his en­tire life, the 80-year-old Walsh said he wants to see “all the cards on the ta­ble” when it comes to a pro­posed Three Rivers amal­ga­ma­tion.

So far, he said there have been few de­tails shared with af­fected res­i­dents in un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas.

“There is a lot of con­cern and the big­gest con­cern is we’re not get­ting an­swers,” said Walsh, who is one of four un­in­cor­po­rated area rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the Three Rivers Steer­ing Com­mit­tee.

“Peo­ple don’t want to buy some­thing when they don’t know what they’re get­ting.”

Walsh and oth­ers have been hand­ing out pam­phlets to res­i­dents with the phrase “your taxes are go­ing up!” in bold type, to res­i­dents in the un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas of Burnt Point and Ge­orge­town Roy­alty the past week ad­ver­tis­ing a pub­lic meet­ing.

Tonight’s meet­ing, which will be the first pub­lic gath­er­ing of res­i­dents from the un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Dun­dar­ave Room at Rodd’s Bru­denell River Re­sort.

The meet­ing is to of­fer res­i­dents a chance to ask ques­tions and dis­cuss the pro­posed amal­ga­ma­tion.

In­creased tax­a­tion, higher fire dues and new by­laws are some of the con­cerns Walsh and other res­i­dents have.

“They’re not telling us the whole story, and we’d like to know the story if we’re go­ing to be a part of it,” he said. “(Res­i­dents) want to know what the bot­tom line is and that’s ba­si­cally what this meet­ing is for.”

The cur­rent pro­posal would see Bru­denell, Cardi­gan, Ge­orge­town, Lorne Val­ley, Lower Mon­tague, Mon­tague and Val­ley­field com­bine with four un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas to cre­ate P.E.I.’s fourth largest town.

While a steer­ing com­mit­tee has been meet­ing to ex­plore the is­sue for about two years, it pre­vi­ously only in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from in­cor­po­rated ar­eas.

Un­in­cor­po­rated rep­re­sen­ta­tives like Walsh were added to the steer­ing com­mit­tee this past fall.

Walsh agreed with Ge­orge­town Roy­alty res­i­dent Ray Brow’s de­scrip­tion of the process so far as seem­ing like a “forced mar­riage” with lit­tle con­sul­ta­tion from un­in­cor­po­rated res­i­dents.

Brow said the pro­posed Three Rivers mu­nic­i­pal­ity may also serve as a tem­plate for fu­ture amal­ga­ma­tions in the prov­ince, cre­at­ing a need ex­plore all pros and cons.

He said the meet­ing is be­ing held this time of year to in­clude snow­birds and sea­sonal res­i­dents.

“Every­body has a stake in this pro­posed amal­ga­ma­tion,” said Brow.

“Each of the in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties have coun­cils, we don’t have coun­cils and that’s why we want to make sure each per­son in the area has a say in who will rep­re­sent them.”

Steer­ing com­mit­tee chair Lewis La­vandier said many of the de­tails of amal­ga­ma­tion have yet to be worked out.

Although he’ll be tak­ing in to­day’s meet­ing, he said the com­mit­tee felt the meet­ing is pre­ma­ture.

“We’re plan­ning on hav­ing pub­lic meet­ings later on when we have com­piled all the in­for­ma­tion and we thought ev­ery­one was on board with that,” said La­vandier.

“We feel this is pre­ma­ture.”

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

John Walsh shows a pam­phlet that has been handed out to res­i­dents in the Ge­orge­town Fire Dis­trict of Ge­orge­town Roy­alty and Burnt Point ad­ver­tis­ing a pub­lic meet­ing tonight at Rodd’s Bru­denell River Re­sort. Walsh said res­i­dents of the un­in­cor­po­rated area have con­cerns over what amal­ga­ma­tion will mean for them.

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