Not just another dirty word

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To many, it’s the dirtiest 12-letter word around. Amalgamation. Ooh. Awful, isn’t it? Right up there with “embezzlement” in the nasty dozen-letter handle, but, not nearly as bad as “resettlement.” Ain’t that the truth.

Amalgamation reared its ugly head this week when The Western  Star checked in with the communities of York Harbour and Lark Harbour over plans to share municipal governance.

In the fall of 2013, the two communities decided to forego a municipal election so they could work on joining forces. The towns share a school, fire department and church, so they figured it made sense to join at the administrative levels.

“The proximity of the two communities ... bodes well because they’re right next door,” said Lark Harbour Mayor John Parsons at the time. “The only thing separating us, really, is the mountain.”

The process itself is now two years, with plenty of work done by the people of both communities. But nothing has yet to be finalized. Consultants presented the towns with a preliminary report, followed by a final report and the communities have met with the Department of Municipal Affairs. Their request currently sits with the province, but details of what’s in the proposal are scant at this time.

“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 this week.

The towns have a big ask, including funding for a water and sewer project, municipal planning, a fire truck, garbage collection and snowclearing equipment, paving, completion of a retaining wall, renovations to a town office and transition funding for staffing.

A decision is expected in the coming months. It will have landmark effect, no doubt.

What’s most important now is that the community and province reach an agreement that works best for the citizens, even if the wish list is not complete.

This province and its demographic shift warrants change. Sharing services and a regionalized approach can and should work.

Amalgamation is certainly not a bad idea, and — unless it was forced on an area where it made little sense — it’s not really one of them dirty words.

Organizations: Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Lark Harbour, Western Star, York Harbour

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