Progress may swallow up old villages and school districts

By Steve Sharratt, Charlottetown Guardian, Montague, PEI, Canada, March 30, 2009

MONTAGUE — The phone lines will be humming over the next few weeks as a grassroots effort to build a new super community from Georgetown to Brudenell to Montague and all the way to Sturgeon, tests the water. An initial public meeting to discuss the creation of a greater municipality — tentatively called Three Rivers — drew strong numbers but those in attendance insist even more voices must be heard.

“I think we should just start calling our neighbours,” suggested Darlene Clow of Greenfield. “Everyone should have a say.”
And that idea will generate a third meeting in the near future in which more regional residents are asked to voice an opinion about a community that could stretch from Georgetown to Sturgeon.

The idea is to consider the creation of a larger municipal region before a report from former judge Ralph Thompson and the Commission on Land and Local Governance is released.

It’s expected the report — coming later this year — will recommend an end to all unincorporated communities across the province. And according to the Municipalities Act, any incorporated area simply need apply to government to take over.

“We might as well be proactive and create our own community,’’ said Gary Fraser, chair of the Brudenell Community Council, which fostered the meeting.
“Brudenell is not interested in taking anyone over, but we don’t mind joining up with our neighbours.”

There’s no carrot being dangled for those who live in unincorporated areas.

In fact, taxes might go up a cent or two. But creating a larger community would mean a regional council is established to replace five local councils.
“You could throw a rock and hit the boundaries of all the little councils around here,’’ said John Miodwoski of New Perth. “We’re governed into the ground and the only thing showing a growth rate around here is seniors.”

The meeting was told a larger community would be a progressive step to thwart rural decline and a duplication of services.

“Our biggest deficiency is we have the same people regurgitated on councils over and over again,’’ said Jock Beck, a Brudenell councillor.

There are an estimated 3,000 people immediately surrounding the town of Montague with a population of 1,800.

A small committee was formed to contact residents of the communities of New Perth, Summerville, Roseneath, Victoria Cross, and Valleyfield and encourage attendance at a third meeting.