Government should respect the wishes of Islanders living in the proposed Three Rivers area and honour their vote against proceeding with amalgamation, says Opposition Leader James Aylward.
“We saw the consequences of a flawed, undemocratic process during last year’s failed School Review process. It divides Islanders and damages communities. Now we are seeing a similar process unfold where government gave itself broad powers to force amalgamation on unwilling communities, further eroding public trust. It seems that this government has failed to learn from those mistakes,” says Aylward.
Over the last few months residents living in incorporated and unincorporated areas have held plebiscites on the proposed Three Rivers amalgamation. A total of 77 per cent of the 1860 residents who have voted on the proposed amalgamation have voted against the proposal, including a majority of residents in two of the incorporated communities. Despite that democratic feedback both the government and the Three Rivers Steering Committee have indicated that the amalgamation process will be moving forward with an amalgamation application being submitted to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission and Cabinet for final approval despite previous assurances that Islanders would be listened to.
Aylward pointed out that people choose to live in rural communities due to the unique characteristics of the area. Many are also concerned about the impact that the proposed amalgamation would have on tax rates for some residents.
Aylward is calling on Premier MacLauchlan to honour the vote of residents in the proposed Three Rivers area and put a halt to the Three Rivers amalgamation process in light of the widespread democratic opposition to government’s plan.
“Our Caucus had deep concerns about the limited opportunity for democratic input and the concentration of power in the minister’s hands. That’s why we stood alone and voted against this legislation. A government under my leadership would honour the vote of Islanders on something as significant as forced municipal amalgamation,” says Aylward.