PEI

3 things about Three Rivers: What you need to know about amalgamation Down East

Taxes, services, governance — here's what the proposed unification of Montague, Cardigan, Brudenell and other communities could mean to residents

P.E.I.'s 4th largest municipality would be created

The proposed municipality would be home to more than 7,000 Islanders. Georgetown opted out of the proposal last month. (3riverspei.com)

Details of the Three Rivers Amalgamation proposal are now available to the public.

The proposal was years in the making, and kept under wraps until its release Wednesday by the local steering committee.

The proposal would see communities including Montague, Cardigan and Brudenell join together, to create P.E.I.'s fourth largest municipality, with a population of at least 7,000 people. 

So what's it mean if you live in the area? Here are three highlights of the Three Rivers proposal:

1. Some tax rates up, some down

Residents of Montague and Cardigan would see tax rates go down, but they would still pay the highest rates in the area, as they do now (Georgetown, which chose last month to opt out of amalgamation, would also have seen a decrease).

Residents of Brudenell, Lorne Valley, Lower Montague and Valleyfield would see tax rates increase. So would residents of unincorporated areas, who would be subject to municipal property-tax rates for the first time.

Tax revenues would total $1.1 million. That would cover about half of the new municipality's operating costs. Other revenues, including transfer payments and government grants, would cover the rest. The proposal includes a permanent boost in provincial transfer payments as well as transitional funding for 8 years following amalgamation.

2. Fire, police and other services

Fire and police services would remain unchanged, with the province footing the bill for RCMP, based in Brudenell. Fire departments in the area would continue to cooperate as they now do, according to steering committee chair Brian Harding. Fire rates would remain unchanged.

The proposal includes new spending of $25,000 a year for the pool complex in Montague, and to hire three new municipal employees: an economic development officer; bylaw enforcement officer; and recreation director.

Street and highway maintenance would remain the responsibility of the province (except in Georgetown). Montague and Cardigan would continue to maintain sidewalks and street lights.

There would be no change to postal service, mailing addresses, or 911 addresses.

3. Governance, elections, council

All existing place names would be retained. Each community would become a ward in the new municipality, with one elected councillor for every 650 residents or so. November 2018 is the date of the next municipal election in the area. If amalgamation goes ahead, the new council could be elected at that time.

So what's next?

Each community will decide if it wants "in or out," according to steering committee chair Brian Harding. Based on those decisions, amalgamation may or may not proceed.

Amalgamation would spur economic growth and give the region more clout, according to Harding.

"Seventy-five hundred people has more sway, political sway with the government, than communities from 200 to 2,000 which is what the seven communities run," Harding said. "Nothing's carved in stone. It's still a work in progress."

Public meetings are slated Nov. 7 at Montague Regional High School and Nov. 9 at Kaylee Hall in Poole's Corner.

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