Some residents who live in the unincorporated Georgetown, P.E.I., fire district say they're being shut out of ongoing amalgamation talks in the area.
"It's their property, their homes, their land. And they've got a right to know." -John Walsh
John Walsh of Burnt Point said he's been going door to door throughout the district, hearing a lot of concern and frustration around the amalgamation process.
"People are not in good humour about it," Walsh said. "The way it's going, it's kept so quiet. They don't have any idea what it's going to cost them and what's in the future. It's their property, their homes, their land. And they've got a right to know."
Closed door meetings
For the past two years, a steering committee made up of councillors and staff from seven municipalities in the Three Rivers region have held several closed door meetings to discuss the possibility of amalgamating.
Last fall, Walsh and other representatives from unincorporated communities were invited to join the meetings.
"They don't have an actual vote, but we've tried to include them so they get as much information as possible," explained Lewis Lavandier, Georgetown's mayor and the committee chair.
But Walsh said getting answers to his questions has been a challenge, particularly on the issue of how amalgamation would affect residents' taxes.
'It comes back to money'
"It comes back to money. What's it going to cost us? What's it going to do to our taxes?," he said. "There's no sense asking after the fact. That stuff should be up front and let people look at it and decide what they want to do."
Lavandier said his committee hasn't been forthcoming with any taxation details because it's waiting for estimates that are part of a consultant's report on Three Rivers' amalgamation.
"This is a long process and it's taken a long time to come to, as close as we can, final numbers that we can put out the public and give them an idea of what it would actually mean to each individual community," Lavandier said. "That is something we're still working on."
Public meeting planned
But Walsh said he isn't waiting around. He's planning a public meeting for Aug. 14, where he says residents from his area will have the chance to express their concerns and ask questions of members of the steering committee.
"I've gone to 50 doors, and there was only one that said they wouldn't be there," Walsh said. "We want to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this, and give us any direction."
But it's not clear at this point whether any members of the steering committee will attend the meeting.
Lavandier initially said he would attend. However, now he's rethinking it.
The mayor said from his perspective, it's too early to hold any public meetings, given there's not much concrete information to present.
Lavandier said he will consult with the committee, before he decides whether he or any other committee members will attend the meeting.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Rodd's Brudenell Resort Conference Centre.
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