2 proposed 'super communities' woo potential residents stuck in middle
Two groups in rural New Brunswick are proposing the creation of two new "super communities" directly next to each other and that is leaving those caught in the middle with a choice to make.
The York Rural Community Proposal and the Nashwaak Rural Community Proposal are both advocating the amalgamation of several local service districts to give residents better government representation, potential taxation benefits with minimum increases to property taxes.
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But if such proposals move forward, residents in communities caught in the middle, such as Napadogan, Lower Douglas, North Cardigan and Carlisle Road, would potentially have a choice as to which new community they would like to join.
But some at a meeting hosted by advocates of the York Rural Community Project in North Cardigan were not convinced by either option.
"To be lumped in with Douglas and the St. John River Valley, we're not really part of that community," said Jonathan Dickinson, a resident living in Currieburg.
Dickinson said the option to avoid joining either of the new communities should be still be on the table.
"I think there should be three options," he said.
But that's not an option government wants, said Shawn Robichaud to the crowd of 30 at an information session held at the North Cardigan United Church on Wednesday evening.
"They don't want holes, or doughnuts, left in between," said Robichaud.
"So communities that are left directly in between will most likely have to go one way or the other."
Large potential communities
The community proposals are not small ones.
The York Project would be made up of Douglas, Keswick Ridge, Bright, Kingsclear, and Queensbury local service districts.
If created the area would be made up of more than 10,000 residents, with a tax base of more than $805 million, according to advocates of the plan.
"It would be just a bit smaller than Bathurst," said Debby Peck, with the York Rural Community Project.
"That's a big voice to have."
The Nashwaak Project would be made up of Estey's Bridge, St. Mary's and Stanley local service districts, as well as the Village of Stanley.
"We've been working at this in a very concentrated way with a group of LSD advisory committees for over a year," said Peck.
"While the Nashwaak Project has an advisory committee and a mayor in council."
Wooing border communities with denser populations would be beneficial to either project, as higher population could mean more funding from government based on per capita distributions.
But many in Wednesday night's meeting were unconvinced.
Statements such as "nothing will change," "government just wants more money" and "it's not going to fix our roads" rang out from crowd members during the presentation's question period.
The York's committee response to those repeated concerns was the resulting mayor from the communities creation would give it a stronger voice than an LSD committee when petitioning provincial government for changes.
Proposals must still go through assessments, a feasibility study and gain approval from the minister of environment and local government before the creation of such a rural community would go to a plebiscite.