Four local services districts — Dundas, Shediac, Shediac River/Shediac Bridge and parts of Irishtown — will vote today on becoming a single rural community.
Amalgamating the LSDs would mean a slight increase in property tax, but would offer many benefits, says Germaine Montague, president of Dundas LSD, who has been working on the rural community project since 2008.
"They get local representation, they get a full-time employee working on these plans that I mentioned before — the emergency plan, the rural plan," she said.
'Are we setting this up for failure?' - Tony Clark, Poirier Office
"They also have someone that will develop a strategy for priorities of the people as well as any type of projects and programs that we can access funds from the provincial government that are reserved for municipalities."
Montague says the point of the project is to protect the territory and for it to remain under the control of locals.
LSDs were involuntarily included in the rural community plan and have not been permitted to remove themselves from the proposal or the vote, says Tony Clark, who lives in Poirier Office.
Tony Clark says the idea was mandated by a small population of an LSD he doesn't belong to.
"I'm being forced to vote on it whether I like it or not," said Clark, who is part of a group that has erected a sign on Highway 115 encouraging people in the area to vote against amalgamation.
"At the end of the day, if we look at the tax bills, the money that's coming out of people's pockets, it's a small amount. What about five years from now, what about 10 years from now with inflation, and costs of mayors and salaries, and to get qualified people?," said Clark.
"We look around the province and into Nova Scotia, the rural communities are going into bankruptcy and having to amalgamate. Are we setting this up for failure?"
Residents of the LSDs can vote between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday.
Woodstock and Northampton LSDs are also voting on becoming a rural community, while Chateau Heights residents will vote on annexation from Estey's Bridge LSD to the City of Fredericton.
And byelections are being held in 13 communities to fill municipal council positions:
- Alma - councillor
- Bathurst - councillor
- Cocagne - mayor and four councillors
- Grand Tracadie Sheila - mayor and eight councillors
- Grand Anse - councillor
- Hanwell - two councillors
- Baker Lake - councillor
- Minto - councillor
- Moncton - councillor
- New Maryland - councillor
- Ste Marie-St Raphael - councillor
- St Leolin - councillor
- St Quentin - councillor