O’LEARY -- O’Leary Community Council will vote on a motion during its regular monthly meeting Thursday night to petition the Department of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs for a change to “town” status.
Town proposal wins support
O’Leary and area residents listen to a pitch to change their community to town status. They subsequently gave the pitch unanimous support.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
That follows an information meeting the council hosted Monday night. More than 20 people, including two who live just outside of O’Leary’s municipal boundaries, gave a unanimous show of support for the proposal.
Street maintenance and snow clearing had the potential to be a deal breaker-but council chair Stanley MacDonald assured residents that Municipal Affairs has indicated those services will remain the responsibility of the province at no cost to O’Leary.
MacDonald suggested O’Leary already has more services than some towns. He listed its recreation department, rink, curling rink, lighted ballfield and Canadian Potato Museum as some of the community’s assets.
“It raises our profile,” MacDonald said. He added O’Leary might be able to qualify for additional funds and grants as a town. He noted, as an example, the O’Leary’s potato museum went for higher profile in changing from Prince Edward Island Potato Museum to Canadian Potato Museum.
“No increases in taxes,” he declared. “Basically, if we don’t take on additional expenses, it will stay the same as it is now.”
Jimmie Baglole recalled that O’Leary had toyed with the idea of becoming a town many years ago but the idea fizzled at that time because of the expenditure the community would incur in looking after streets.
The most obvious changes, suggested administrator Bev Shaw, would be that residents would no longer have a vote on the annual budget, and the municipal election would become a full-day process with nominations in advance.
MacDonald said O’Leary is following the same process Rustico employed when it applied for town status. He encouraged residents and organizations to submit letters in support of O’Leary’s application.
“You have to keep moving forward,” Baglole commented following the meeting. He said O’Leary has a good council and this would be the time to make the move.