Com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­cerns

IRAC will sub­mit a de­ci­sion to gov­ern­ment 45 days af­ter Wed­nes­day evening’s hear­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY KATHER­INE HUNT Kather­ine.hunt@the­guardian.pe.ca

Pos­si­ble mis­in­for­ma­tion and a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion were com­mon themes among the res­i­dents at a pub­lic hear­ing Wed­nes­day on the pro­posed Three Rivers re­gion amal­ga­ma­tion.

Dur­ing the more-than-three­hour meet­ing at Mon­tague Re­gional High School the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who spoke voiced their con­cerns over the pro­posed es­tab­lish­ment of the new mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The amal­ga­ma­tion would join Cardi­gan, Mon­tague, Ge­orge­town, Val­ley­field, Lorne Val­ley, Bru­denell and Lower Mon­tague.

The meet­ing was put on by the Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peals Com­mis­sion (IRAC), which now holds the de­ci­sion over whether to amal­ga­mate the seven Kings County mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. IRAC will sub­mit that de­ci­sion to gov­ern­ment within 45 days.

Terri Welsh of River­ton brought the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sue to the fore­front.

She said she was in the dark about amal­ga­ma­tion un­til two years ago when a neigh­bour told her their com­mu­nity was in­cluded. Amal­ga­ma­tion talks have been on­go­ing since 2013.

“We did not re­ceive a no­tice in the mail, noth­ing to in­form us that we’re part of this,” she said. “This was not com­mu­ni­cated to a great deal of com­mu­ni­ties who didn’t get their mail from Cardi­gan post of­fice.”

Scott An­n­ear, mayor of Lower Mon­tague, first said that is­sue has been re­solved.

“We spoke to this at the first meet­ing that we were at,” he said. “We weren’t aware that River­ton has two dif­fer­ent post of­fices, so we did ad­dress that in the fur­ther mailouts.”

Welsh said she still has not re­ceived any­thing in the mail, which she gets from Mount Ste­wart.

“Frankly, if you’re do­ing that level of re­search, how on earth are we sup­posed to trust any­thing you’re do­ing if you can’t ac­tu­ally look at where peo­ple are and where some­thing as sim­ple as their mail comes from,” she said.

An­n­ear re­sponded with, “I guess we made a mis­take.”

Kelly Camp­bell of Kin­ross said he has seen two ver­sions of the pro­posed amal­ga­ma­tion map; one has Kin­ross on it, while the other doesn’t.

An­n­ear said it would de­pend on which fire depart­ment Camp­bell would con­tact in an emer­gency. Un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas in the amal­ga­ma­tion are from three fire dis­tricts — Mon­tague, Ge­orge­town and Cardi­gan.

“The map has my house in the Three Rivers amal­ga­ma­tion even though we are part of the Ver­non River fire district,” said Camp­bell. “Just bring­ing to your at­ten­tion that the map is in­cor­rect and does have ex­tra com­mu­ni­ties in­volved that have not had a say in this process so make note of that.”

An­n­ear said the map was pro­vided by gov­ern­ment.

J. Scott MacKen­zie, the chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of IRAC, said they will look into the mat­ter of the op­pos­ing maps. For now, it is still based on

the fire dis­tricts.

“I think it’s fair to say that if there’s an er­ror on the map what will be de­ter­mined is whether you’re in those three fire dis­tricts be­cause… that’s the ref­er­ence that’s be­fore us,” said MacKen­zie.

A plebiscite was held in Jan­uary by res­i­dents of the un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas. Of roughly 2,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers, there was a turnout of 1,250 with 1,174 votes against amal­ga­ma­tion.

Lucy Rob­bins, who was one of the vot­ers in the un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas, said that in­for­ma­tion has been ig­nored.

“As far as we’re con­cerned if the seven mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties… want to get to­gether and amal­ga­mate and they’re all in favour of it that’s won­der­ful,” said Rob­bins.

“If you can save money and ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be great that’s won­der­ful. We wish you luck but just leave us out of it would you? No­body asked us.”

Not ev­ery­one who spoke at the

hear­ing was against the amal­ga­ma­tion. A hand­ful of res­i­dents who were for the Greater Three Rivers area also voiced their opinions at the mi­cro­phone.

Anne Van­donkers­goed of Val­ley­field was one of those res­i­dents.

“One of the rea­sons I’m in favour is be­cause I think with a larger com­mu­nity, we’ll have a larger voice about land use and I’m con­cerned about what’s been hap­pen­ing in some ar­eas and who’s buy­ing our land and whether our farm­ers have land to farm,” she said.

Stacy Toms of Ge­orge­town said the ar­eas do not have to be amal­ga­mated to work on the same com­mon is­sues.

“I kind of thought for things like the hospi­tal we were all work­ing on the same page right now,” she said. “I don’t think we need to be amal­ga­mated to have the same goals.”

KATHER­INE HUNT/THE GUARDIAN

Stacy Toms of Ge­orge­town said she does not feel the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should have to amal­ga­mate to have the same goals.

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