Privately-sponsored plebiscite overwhelmingly rejects Three Rivers amalgamation

Voters from unincorporated areas in eastern P.E.I. have delivered a devastating no in a municipal amalgamation plebiscite, says the private group that sponsored it.

Plebiscite launched by group opposed to amalgamation

The proposed municipality would be home to more than 7,000 Islanders. (3riverspei.com)

Voters from unincorporated areas in eastern P.E.I. have delivered a devastating no in a municipal amalgamation plebiscite, says the private group that sponsored it.

The vote went 94 per cent against the proposal.

The plebiscite was organized by a group opposed to amalgamation, but the organizers say people were free to vote as they wished. Voting was held Saturday and Monday.

"There was a very strong voice that needed to be heard, and when we tabulated the results last night that voice has been heard," said Sylvia Teasdale, one of the plebiscite organizers.

With 1,250 ballots cast, the turnout was unexpectedly high, but it was not clear just what percentage of eligible voters that represents. The group used fire department civic address lists to determine eligible votes, but did not have a list of names.

In addition to setting up polling stations for secret ballots, the group accepted email ballots from residents working out of province.

More votes to come

Brian Harding, chair of the Three Rivers Steering Committee, said he was surprised by both the size of the turnout and the level of opposition.

Harding said the vote will be added to input gathered during the process, including direction from incorporated communities in the proposed amalgamation area. 

Brudenell and Lorne Valley councils have already voted to continue, and Lower Montague, Montague, Cardigan and Valleyfield councils will vote next month.

"If they vote to continue in the process, I'm sure the process will continue," he said.

Communities Minister Richard Brown, in a statement written to CBC News, said he is watching the issue.

"Government has supported the work of the steering committee that came together to help the communities through this process," he said.

He added the government looks forward to receiving an application for amalgamation from the area.

With files from Island Morning