Montreal

Montrealers sign up for demergers

Although official results won't be available until the registry closes later this week, residents in at least six former cities on the Island of Montreal have given the go-ahead for demerger referendums next month.

Although official results won't be available until the registry closes later this week, residents in at least six former cities on the Island of Montreal have given the go-ahead for demerger referendums next month.

In many former municipalities, the turnout was almost enough to put them over the top after just one day.

Referendums will be triggered in areas that used to be independent municipalities if at least 10 per cent of voters sign petitions.

In the former cities of Baie d'Urfé, Westmount, Mont-Royal, Senneville, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Montreal-East, that number appeared to have been reached.

Residents in the 212 former municipalities that were fused into 42 new cities in 2002 can voice their opinions at demerger register stations that will remain open across the province until Thursday.

In the demerger hotbeds of Westmount and Cote St. Luc, a slow but steady stream of residents signed registers Sunday.

Most said they had better services and lower taxes before the mega-city. More importantly, they said they missed the personal touches of their former cities.

"At the time when we were a community, I could go and talk to the mayor, meet him on the street," said one.

People signing were optimistic but angry at a process they said is convoluted and unfair.

"My neighbours don't even know about coming and signing register," said Pearl Bierbrier, who has lived in Cote St. Luc for 50 years. "My neighbours think that once they're on the register, that means they can go and vote."

In Quebec City, demerger activists said they were confident that they would get enough signatures to force referendums in their municipalities.

Claude Beaudoin, the former mayor of Val Belair who said the merged city doesn't provide the same level of services as it once did, was encouraged by the turnout at the registers.

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