Former mayors blame Montague for quitting game

Steve Sharratt
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FILE PHOTO: Former Montague mayor Pat McGowan.

Amalgamation of 8,000 people from Lorne Valley to Panmure Island too big for Montague to sit out: McGowan

MONTAGUE – Eastern P.E.I.’s largest town has quit the game before even going to bat for the possible future of a regional municipality, say two former mayors.

“This is the first time this region has ever sat down to discuss such a possibility, and the town is already pulling out before the talks are even to start,’’ said former mayor Merrill Scott. “It’s an extremely poor decision.”

MORE: No comments, please

The town of Montague announced last week that it would not proceed with talks on the regional municipality of Three Rivers based on the current boundaries. The seven communities include Georgetown, Cardigan, Lorne Valley, Montague, Brudenell, Valleyfield and Lower Montague.

The town wants the boundaries to be changed to include the town’s current fire district, which would cut out Georgetown, Cardigan and Lorne Valley.

Meanwhile, the six remaining communities are proceeding without Montague, which could eventually lead to the creation of a Three Rivers municipality that would surround Montague.

“Opting out this early leaves us without any input into the future of this process,’’ said former mayor Pat McGowan. “It’s a very poor decision.”

McGowan said the possible amalgamation of 8,000 people from Lorne Valley to Panmure Island is far too big an issue for elected officials of the largest town to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens.

“It is totally unfair of Mayor Richard Collins and councillors to make a hasty decision, especially when the mayor was touting that he would hold a town plebiscite before signing off on a regional municipality,” said McGowan. “It is absolutely essential to join the other communities and stay until the end of negotiations. When it’s all over, then they can make an educated yes or no decision based on the outcome of those discussions.”

Opting out this early leaves us without any input into the future of this process Former Montague mayor Pat McGowan

Scott said a “tax freeze” could easily be applied during the discussions to allay the worst fears of some rural residents who are opposing amalgamation for that one reason.

“The government isn’t pushing this down anyone’s throat, they are asking us to start at the grassroots and work our way up to a solution,’’ he said. “But how can we find a solution when some of the family won’t come to the table.”

Both former mayors say they have heard nothing but disappointment from local residents over the past week. They said even the business community endorses the new municipality as a way to increase the tax base, as well as gas tax increases, and reduce the number of community elected officials in the seven communities from 49 to eight.

Scott and McGowan said they are not endorsing a new and larger municipality at this point – just the “golden” opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of such a project.

“If this doesn’t go ahead now, in five years you will have all new elected players in the game and seven communities that don’t have enough money to do things on their own.”

Organizations: Three Rivers

Geographic location: Georgetown, Lorne Valley, Eastern P.E.I. Valleyfield

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Recent comments

  • cardigan
    January 20, 2016 - 21:57

    This is the same mayor that's asking for 210000 $ for the art walk let's not forget he's obviously not all there the town could see 210000$ spent else where

  • Get A Grip
    January 20, 2016 - 21:35

    What next? They dont let a Boys & Girls Club to open? Oh wait....

  • amalgamate Kings County
    January 20, 2016 - 17:46

    PEI needs to dissolve all 73 existing municipalities and incorporate each county as a municipality. That would hopefully get us past this silliness. People identify with their county. They don't identify with small town politics.

  • Sam
    January 20, 2016 - 16:01

    Lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes in Montague politics that nobody knows about

  • Disappointed
    January 20, 2016 - 13:55

    One word - LAZY! When the residents and the business owners and past mayors are calling for efforts to investigate the Amalgamation option ... why not do so?!?!

  • Summerside Resident
    January 20, 2016 - 12:40

    If Mayor Collins is in fact telling Councillors not to make comment than this is wrong. Elected officials are just that, people elected to protect you tax dollars and make common sense decisions for the bettermeant of the Town. Amalgamation is a big step. If you came to Summerside and did a survey you would find the majority do not and have not liked it since 1995. All we got was hgher taxes, less survice broken promises of ditchfilling, pie in the sky ideas which costs us million. The previous MAYOR AND HIS CAO ENDED US WITH A 100 MILLION DEBT. Not to mention the vindictve lawsuit against our previous Deputy Chief of Police, which he won after 13 yrs, the failed concert just to mention a couple, paying millions in l egal fees.. Total mismanagenment Be careful the Government talks a big game until they get you.

  • Montague is run by one person
    January 20, 2016 - 10:27

    This decision has all the hallmarks of the CAO on it. He's been on record wanting to have the Montague fire district as part of the town. But the town made the fire department a private business a few years ago, so there is no longer a financial benefit for Montague to amalgamate places like Panmure Island and Gaspereaux and Brooklyn. One wonders what the town staff's real motivation is for rejecting Three Rivers and going their own way. Job preservation perhaps?

  • Petition time
    January 20, 2016 - 09:04

    If there was ever a time for a petition - it is now. Someone in the community (of which I am not) needs to start a petition and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine what should be on that petition.

  • de udder guy
    January 20, 2016 - 05:49

    Not sure which approach is more reprehensible, Montague bowing out before it even gets started or a Mayor telling his councillors not too make comments. An irresponsible and patronizing remark that should be loudly and widely condemned.