Montague moves ahead with annexation study

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MONTAGUE – An annexation study to allow eastern P.E.I.’s largest town to expand boundaries as far as Panmure Island was approved here Monday night with little protest.

A map from the Department of Municipal Affairs shows the incorporated areas of Montague (63), Brudenell (64), Lower Montague (62) and Georgetown (65) and the unincorporated area of Valleyfield (59) and Cardigan (66).

However, while there was no visible sign of opposition at the town hall meeting, rumours of dissent are circulating and a letter from one community condemned the idea.

“I did hear at the grand opening of (the Riverhouse Inn) last week that there was an army assembling in Sturgeon to oppose this,’’ said Mayor Richard Collins before council approved the motion.

The town will now seek RFP’s (request for proposals) from consulting firms for a $15,000 study (funded by the province) to seek out a boundary expansion.

The town of 1,900 people is landlocked by the neighbouring communities of Brudenell and Lower Montague, so the town wants to annex all unincorporated areas in the region from Poole’s Corner to Panmure Island.

“We need to hire someone who will build the rationale behind doing this expansion and meet with all those who will be affected,’’ said chief administrative officer Andy Daggett.

Coun. Jim Bagnall insisted the town should work to join with Brudenell and Lower Montague to create one greater municipality similar to Charlottetown.

Ironically, half the business sector of Brudenell is seeking sewer connection with the town and many advertise as being “located in” Montague.  

However, the adjoining neighbour is less than willing and expressed such sentiment in a letter.

“Brudenell has consistently voiced a desire to remain as a community separate and distinct from the town of Montague, and while we are anxious to cooperate…… we intend to exercise our right to remain an incorporated community,’’ said Brudenell chairwoman Peggy Coffin.

The strategy for possible annexation came from the provincial Municipal Affairs Department, which drafted two potential candidate maps for the town as ways the municipality could grow and expand beyond its current landlocked status.

One would see the town acquire 2,800 acres in Victoria Cross, while the largest strategy would take in the entire 40,000 acres of the Montague Fire District.

“If we’re going to survive, we need to join forces with these smaller rural areas and create a ward system,” said Daggett. “Whether you call it the town of Montague or Three Rivers or whatever … it has to be done.”

Town councillors agreed to the study based on the removal of the two strategies proposed by government and allow the consultant to identify the best way to proceed.

The largest strategy — the entire Montague fire district — would see the town/new municipality go from 700 to more than 40,000 acres, double the population, and more than double property assessment to $200 million.

The approved vote will see the town now call for tenders.

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