Large stack of signatures opposing amalgamation delivered to IRAC

Residents from the unincorporated areas affected by the Three Rivers amalgamation continue their fight against amalgamation. May 22 was the deadline to submit an official objection to The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

'It's just not right, we've got to have a say in it'

Lucy and Gary Robbins show the large stacks of signatures and opposition forms they are dropping off to IRAC. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Gary and Lucy Robbins brought a large stack of forms and hundreds of signatures into the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission Tuesday to register community opposition to the proposal to form the Greater Three Rivers area municipality. 

They waited until the final deadline date of May 22 to bring in as many objections as possible. 

"I'm hoping that this will let the government know that there is strong opposition," Lucy said.

Objections to the Three Rivers Municipality proposal were accepted until 4 p.m. on May 22. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The Robbins live in the unincorporated area of Martinvale and are part of the Rural Coalition of PEI, a group of volunteers leading the fight against amalgamation. 

"It's just not right, we've got to have a say in it," Gary said. 

"It's the whole process itself and how secretive it was and underhanded," said Lucy. 

The Robbins said they don't want higher taxes, and worry about new by-laws with land use, and loss of control with the creation of super municipalities. 

Plan submitted in March

In March, the Three Rivers Steering Committee submitted an amalgamation proposal to the province.

It includes seven communities — Brudenell, Cardigan, Georgetown, Lorne Valley, Lower Montague, Montague and Valleyfield — and the unincorporated areas in the Cardigan, Georgetown and Montague fire districts.

The towns of Georgetown and Montague have submitted official objections to the amalgamation as well. 

1,500 signatures collected

The Robbins say their group has handed in 1,500 signed objection forms, but they know of others who have mailed in their objections on their own. 

"We don't want this," said Lucy. "We're hoping for a recommendation from IRAC not to move forward with this." 

The Robbins said they and many other community volunteers have put their lives on hold to fight the amalgamation. 

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission will make a recommendation to government.

"We've spent the last four months going door-to-door, talking to everyone we can think of," Gary said. 

They say they gathered objections from residents in the affected area and beyond because they see it as an Island-wide issue. 

Decision still months away

The new Municipal Government Act lays out the process as to what happens when there is an objection to a proposal.

According to timelines set out in that legislation, a decision could be several months away. IRAC or the minister may call a public hearing, "Where the minister has determined there is significant public interest in the matter," reads, Section 17,4(b) of the act.

Objections from municipalities require a mediator and then possibly a public hearing if an issue remains unresolved.

In the end, IRAC will make a recommendation to the provincial government but executive council will make the final decision on whether amalgamation goes ahead.

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