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OPINION: 3,000 people want a voice

No problem with six amalgamated communities joining together; it’s a great idea.

(3RiversPEI.com)
No problem with six amalgamated communities joining together; it’s a great idea. (3RiversPEI.com) - FILE GRAPHIC

No problem with six amalgamated communities joining together; it’s a great idea

BY LUCY ROBBINS

GUEST OPINION

After watching the December 15th episode of Compass, I am even more upset about the entire Three Rivers amalgamation. As an editor of a newspaper, Paul MacNeill of the Eastern Graphic should at least try to pretend he is not biased; however, his opinion is loud and clear. I don’t think it is right for the editor of a newspaper to use it as a medium to sway public opinion and further his own personal agenda.

Mr. MacNeill stated that we have representatives on the Steering Committee. We have tried in vain to contact our supposed representative from Cardigan Fire District and he is just as responsive as the Provincial Government. How is he supposed to represent us when he will not even speak to us?

I was particularly incensed with Mr. MacNeill's description of the plebiscite as a vote run by a tin-pot dictatorship. It’s actually the other way around. Before the people in the incorporated areas were allowed to vote, they were given a spiel by the Three Rivers group about the benefits of amalgamation and were told their taxes would be lowered. Would this ever be allowed in a provincial election?

We are not asking people to vote against the amalgamation, we just want the 3,000 residents of the unincorporated areas to be able to have their say – either for or against. How is that a dictatorship? I would say that a government that refuses people a right to vote is a dictatorship, wouldn’t you? We don’t know which way the vote would go if all were allowed a vote in this, but we would be happy to shut up and go away if the majority 50 per cent, plus 1 were for it. That would be a legal and fair process.

Less than 300 out of the 4,000 people in the incorporated areas voted for this, so that would suggest there is no great push by the communities for this to happen contrary to Premier MacLauchlan’s statement that this is a community driven project. We have absolutely no problem with the six amalgamated communities joining together. As a matter of fact, we think it is a great idea. The only problem we have is that they are pulling rural residents into the project who will get absolutely no benefit from this amalgamation. They will not be putting in infrastructure for water and sewer out in Martinvale and you can be guaranteed we won’t have sidewalks or streetlights. All the benefits will go to the urban areas and we will just get a new municipal tax and new bylaws. We do not need another layer of government out here sucking up tax dollars and duplicating services that are already provided by our provincial government.

Why is everyone so upset because 3,000 people want to be heard? When did asking for the same rights and freedoms as our neighbours (who were given a vote) become such a bad thing? We are not criticizing the government, we are pointing out the unfairness of the Municipality Act. No one should be annexed into a government of any form without a vote. And it becomes unfair when 4,000 people are given a vote and 3,000 are told to shut up and suck it up. We’re not just a few residents; we are 40 per cent of the total proposed amalgamation. Why is it so hard for you to understand the unfairness of this? Please Mr. MacNeill, try to put yourself in our shoes and show a little empathy.

We are asking our fellow Islanders to pay attention to this issue. Minister Mitchell indicated that once Three Rivers is amalgamated, this would be used as the model for the rest of the province. If you live in an unincorporated area, have your own well and septic, pay extra for satellite TV and either put up with bad internet or pay the extra to have satellite internet, and receive absolutely no municipal services, you are probably next on the list.

- Lucy Robbins is a resident of the unincorporated area of Martinvale, located adjacent to the village of Cardigan.

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