CENTRAL BEDEQUE – The process of amalgamation continues for Central Bedeque and Bedeque.
It’s been four months since both municipalities voted in favour of becoming a single entity and the people leading the process now report a slow, but productive, start to endeavour.
Susan Whelan is heading up the Municipality of Bedeque’s amalgamation committee, while David Hennessey, chairman of the Municipality of Central Bedeque, is doing the same for his community.
“All systems are go – we’re just down to the nitty gritty,” said Whelan.
Hennessey said both councils are taking their time with the process and that it could still be several months before an official request for amalgamation will be sent to the provincial government for approval.
“We’re all very clear on this, we’re not going to just bash ahead, heads down and just go for it. We want to cross all the t’s and dot all the I;s, make sure we’re all happy with it. Both communities expect us to do our homework,” said Hennessey.
The councils have been in frequent contact regarding the amalgamation and held a meeting in December where they discussed the process ahead of them.
The two big questions that came out of that meeting were; What will the new municipality’s council look like? And what will happen to the tax rates?
“They’re important questions but they’re not deal breaking questions,” said Whelan.
To date, they are leaning towards a council made up of six members, including the chairperson.
The tax rate of Central Bedeque is expected to rise slightly after amalgamation, but exactly how much is still part of the ongoing research, said Whelan.
Both communities have similar tax rates.
Central Bedeque has a population of 167 while Bedeque has an estimated 143 people.
The idea of the two joining together had been raised again by both councils following the Thompson Report.
Released publically in 2012, the report called for the maps of P.E.I.'s municipalities to be redrawn and shrink in number from more than 70 down to less than 20.
Both councils have cited this report and a desire to amalgamate on their own terms rather than face the potential of being forced by the province, to move ahead with amalgamation with their neighbours.
The province has said it has no plans to force the issue of amalgamation or enforce the Thompson Report's recommendations in the near future.