IRAC will submit a decision to government 45 days after Wednesday evening’s hearing
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.”
Stacy Toms of Georgetown said she does not feel the municipalities should have to amalgamate to have the same goals.