Decision on amalgamation of Lark Harbour and York Harbour should come soon: Parsons

Diane
Diane Crocker
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John Parsons figures a decision on whether Lark Harbour and York Harbour will become one will be known in the next month or two.

“It’s been almost two years since we’ve been into the amalgamation process,” said Parsons, the mayor of Lark Harbour on Monday.

During that time, he said, there’s been a lot done, including meetings in both Lark Harbour and York Harbour with the consultants hired to examine the possibility of the two towns at the end of the south shore of the Bay of Islands joining.

The consultants have presented the towns with a preliminary report, which was followed by a final report and the communities have met with the Department of Municipal Affairs. But Parsons has a reason for thinking the process is finally nearing a close.

When the rest of the province’s municipalities went to the polls in September 2013, Lark Harbour and York Harbour didn’t. To hold an election in two towns that could become one, didn’t make much sense at the time.

Parsons said he believes that as the communities work through the amalgamation process that legislatively they have one year to hold an election.

“So this September is getting close,” said Parsons. “So I think it’s either yes or no and by September we have elections for the two towns or we have an election for the newly formed town.”

Parsons said the towns are waiting for word back from Municipal Affairs on whether or not it wants amalgamation to proceed and what it can do to assist with that.

Parsons said the two towns met with Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent on May 9.

Previous to the meeting they sent a formal request to the department to negotiate some items they felt necessary to complete the process.

“For us to become one town what is government prepared to put on the table for us as an incentive to sign on the dotted line,” Parsons said is basically what was posed in the request.

Those items were further discussed with Kent and Parsons said they included some of the recommendations of the consultants. He declined to comment further on them as they are part of the ongoing negotiations.

The minister will now have a document drafted on joining the two towns that will be presented to cabinet. It will be up to cabinet to decide whether or not the province will come forward with anything to help the two towns. Parsons said if the province comes back saying it wants the amalgamation and what it will do to help then it will go back to the councils to decide if they can work with what’s suggested.

“On the surface it makes sense,” said Parsons of joining the two towns.

The two communities share a church, a school and a fire department and committees contain volunteers from both.

“These are two towns that are adjacent to each other, and we’re working together,” said Parsons.

Organizations: Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Lark Harbour, York Harbour, Bay of Islands

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