Rural non-profit coalition formed to fight against amalgamation

Rural non-profit coalition formed to fight against amalgamation

A group of rural residents in eastern P.E.I. have taken their opposition to amalgamation one step further.

The Rural Coalition of P.E.I. has been formed as a non-profit entity to voice residents' concerns with the proposed amalgamation of Montague and Georgetown with five rural municipalities in the area.

Gary Robbins of Martinvale, P.E.I., says the process is silencing the voices of rural Islanders.

"How can they amalgamate us without talking to us and getting our approval on this matter?" Robbins asked during an interview with Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

"We started because the people in the rural communities are being totally ignored by the provincial government. I find it very discriminatory against the people of rural P.E.I."

'This won't stop until we get democracy'

Robbins and other concerned residents have gone door-to-door to inform the public and get their opinions.

Martinvale residents he spoke to were "99 per cent positive they don't want amalgamation," Robbins said.

The coalition will go to court if that's what it takes, Robbins said — even if it requires major fundraising.

"Our coalition is involved in this until this is settled, from now till the election, or after with the new government. This won't stop until we get democracy in the new [Municipal Government Act]," Robbins said.

'We're treated like second-class citizens'

"I'll go to the end of the earth for democracy. I'm a veteran. I believe in democracy."

Amalgamation will cause rural areas to lose control of their own taxation and bylaws, Robbins said.

"We are being discriminated against. We're treated like second-class citizens here."

Forming an organization will allow the group to advertise and have meetings.

Tentative agreement reached July 30

Georgetown and Montague initially filed objections with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission when the proposal was made.

IRAC soon appointed a mediator, and on July 30 the parties reached a tentative agreement. Montague voted unanimously in favour of the plan on Monday night.

Government offered to set up a meeting with IRAC, Robbins said, but he doesn't believe the Municipal Government Act allows for that.

"Their own laws say we can't participate because we have no voice."

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