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UPDATE: P.E.I. government amalgamates Three Rivers, North Shore and Central Prince

Montague Mayor Richard Collins and clerk of the council Jill Walsh look over the IRAC recommendation for Three Rivers amalgamation on Monday night.
Montague Mayor Richard Collins and clerk of the council Jill Walsh look over the IRAC recommendation for Three Rivers amalgamation on Sept. 24. - Mitch MacDonald

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - After about four years of discussions, studies, negotiations and consultations, the new community of Three Rivers has become official.

The province announced Sept. 25 it has approved a recommendation from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) to amalgamate Montague, Lower Montague, Georgetown, Valleyfield, Cardigan, Brudenell and Lorne Valley, as well as some of the unincorporated communities in the area’s three fire districts.

The new municipality will be governed by an interim council with current mayors from the seven communities, unincorporated representatives and an interim mayor until it holds its first election on Nov. 5.

Former Montague Mayor Merrill Scott will serve as interim mayor of the approximate 7,500-person community until then.
Scott has been a supporter of amalgamation throughout the process, which has dated back to 2014, and said the key to transitioning into the new municipality will be working together.

“It’s great for the area… we all have to work towards the same goal, we can’t pit one community against the other,” said Scott. “I would like to see everybody work together and use the intelligence of the whole community. Every community here has something different to offer, so let’s use that in a reasonable way.”

Related: Coalition of Rural Islanders still fighting amalgamation of three P.E.I. areas

Related: IRAC recommends amalgamation of Three Rivers area

Click here to read IRAC's full report

Montague Mayor Richard Collins was the first to put his hat in the ring for the new community’s mayoral race.

“I feel that with my longtime experience with the Town of Montague as mayor, being mayor of the new town of Three Rivers will be a challenge that I’m up to,” said Collins. “I feel I have the experience, time and energy to take on the challenge as mayor of Three Rivers.”

The province included IRAC’s recommendation to amend the boundaries to exclude all or portions of the unincorporated communities of Kinross, Bellevue, Grandview, Riverton, Martinvale, Corraville, Cardross and Glenfanning. IRAC stated that including those communities would limit future possibilities for communities such as Belfast and Central Kings to expand.

However, the province decided against IRAC’s recommendation to create a council of six members and a mayor.

The new municipality’s first elected council will have 12 councillors and a mayor, a number that will later be reviewed.

  • Want to wade into the debate? Write a letter to the editor and email it to letters@theguardian.pe.ca. Be sure to include a name, address and daytime telephone number where the author can be contacted. Letters should be no more than 250 words.

Communities Minister Richard Brown said cabinet felt it would be good to have 12 councillors for the first term.

“Because there’s going to be a lot of work to do and with 12 councillors, a lot of that work can be spread out,” said Brown, adding that the wards are currently being drafted.

Brown described the Three Rivers discussion as a long but engaging process.

“I want to thank everybody involved in the process, even the people who opposed it. Their voices were good to hear, and some of their advice was used,” said Brown, noting that in addition to Three Rivers the province approved IRAC’s recommendations to create two other municipalities on Tuesday.

“Three new towns, one in each county, is great for P.E.I. It’s communities coming together.

“At the end of the day, municipalities and municipal plans help protect people’s property values in terms of development.”

In addition to Three Rivers, the province acted to create other new municipalities. The Rural Municipality of North Shore will include the communities of North Shore, Grand Tracadie and Pleasant Grove. The Rural Municipality of Central Prince will include the rural municipalities of Ellerslie-Bideford and Lady Slipper.

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