Monday, 29 May 2017

Should YRC Use The Ward Model?

The YRC Project Steering Committee is in the process of choosing which model to recommend for the governance of the York Rural Community. The question being considered is whether or not there should be wards.  

When a Rural Community is divided in to wards, each resident has a single, easily identifiable district representative or councillor. That representative tends to be highly accountable because he or she can be re-elected or defeated in the next election based on whether or not residents are happy with the work he or she has done on the Council. 

In a Ward Model, there is less cost for people to run for election because they are only campaigning within the ward (instead of through the whole rural community).

In a Ward Model, the number of residents that a councillor represents is lower so he or she has more time to focus on the issues of individuals in the ward.

In a Ward Model, there is a greater chance that residents know the person running for election because he or she likely lives in the neighbourhood.

But in a Ward Model, there is a chance that the Rural Community would loose out on a good candidate because he or she does not want to run against a neighbour.

And in a Ward Model, depending on how ward boundaries are determined, there is a greater chance that a candidate would be acclaimed in wards with smaller population numbers (because there might be fewer people willing or able to run for office).

As part of its responsibilities in the feasibility study , the YRC Project Steering Committee will be proposing a Council structure for residents to consider.  In the preliminary feasibility study report we are planning to propose at least three options.  YRC Project area residents  are asked to send your concerns, advice, suggestions or requests about this matter to yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.


The St. John River from Keswick Ridge LSD with Kingsclear LSD (left) and Bright LSD (right) in the distance.  



Friday, 26 May 2017

Providing Local Services at a Cost Within Our Means..


The YRC Project Steering Committee is working with staff at the Department of Environment and Local Government and planners at Regional Service Commission 11 to assemble the facts and figures about the feasibility of forming York Rural Community. 

As we work, we are keeping the following quote in mind because it describes one of the Project's main goals - the cost effective and efficient delivery of local services.  


"A local government needs a geographic, demographic and financial base appropriate for carrying out its assigned responsibilities. This means that the geography and population it serves must be sufficient to allow for cost effective service, organization and delivery. It also means that it should be able to provide services largely within its own tax capacity. "  

The Finn Report on the Future of Local Governance in NB (2008, p. 15)


The Keswick Flats are in the YRC Project Area


Thursday, 25 May 2017

 -YRC Project Area-

 The Scenic Splendour of our Rivers/Forest/Farm Fields

An Aerial View of Lower Queensbury (submitted by T. Beckley)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Where do my taxes go now? Where will they go with a Rural Community?  

PART II

In a recent blog post (scroll down to find it), we talked about taxes in the current LSD structure throughout the YRC Project area. In this post we will talk about how taxes would be affected by the formation of a Rural Community. Here is what is being proposed:

Service to Proposed YRC Residents
Would Be Provided By:
1. Governance
YRC Council
2. Policing
RCMP
3. Emergency Measures Plan
YRC Council
4. Fire Protection
DELG (via several fire departments)
5. Dog Control
SPCA
6. Street Lights (in Oswald Gray Subdivision and on Carlisle Rd)
NB Power
7. Land Use Planning
YRC Council / RSC 11
8. Recreation
DELG + Rec Councils
9. Disposal  and Garbage Collection and Recycling
RSC 11 and private contractors
10. Road Summer /Winter Maintenance
Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI)
11. Road Capital Upgrades
 DTI


In the LSD model all rates are set by the provincial government but in a Rural Community model they would be set by elected residents who serve on the Council. 

An LSD does not have a bank account but a Rural Community does meaning that the Council can save funds for future planning, emergency situations, etc.  within the Rural Community.  Any unspent budget in a LSD is returned to the government.


A common misconception is that a Rural Community requires a single blended tax rate. The truth is that for the York Rural Community Project, it is being proposed to maintain the existing tax areas so that residents continue to pay taxes only for the services that they receive.  There are 8 different LSD tax rates in the proposed YRC Project area ranging from $0.4030 to $0.5821 per $100 of assessment.  


And what about the cost for administration of the Rural Community?  Initial estimates for the proposed YRC add an estimated $0.015 to cover that cost.  On a $200,000 house the estimated increase represents approximately $30 annually. The cost of the existing services is assumed to remain the same but will be evaluated for cost savings as the feasibility study progresses.  The preliminary feasibility study report for the YRC Project will be released on June 30, 2017.

If you have any comments concerns or questions about the cost of about tax rates being proposed for the YRC Project area, please send them to the YRC Project steering committee at yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.  

Monday, 22 May 2017

Considering Possibilities for the YRC Wards and Council

Doulgas, Bright and Keswick Ridge LSDs (in distance) from Kingsclear LSD (Daryl Hunter photo)

The members of the YRC Project steering committee have recently participated in a workshop about how wards and councils could be set up in a new local government. The workshop taught us many things that we will need to know as we prepare options to include in the Project's preliminary feasibility study report. For example, we learned that:

- The ward system divides a local government area into separate sections represented, most commonly, by a single councillor. Most people believe that a ward system is a way to have clear accountability and representation. 

- Determining the number of wards and their locations is usually based on population, geography, community history, community interests and minority representation.  

- There is no standard definition of a ward but the Supreme Court of Canada has recommended that a ward should:

1.Distribute the population and electors as equally as possible.  

2.Respect identifiable communities of interest. 

3.Use natural, physical boundaries that are locally recognized.

4.Serve the larger public interest of all electors of the municipality rather than the interest of a small group.


Residents of the YRC Project area are encouraged to send their concerns, suggestions or advice about wards to the YRC Project steering committee at yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.



Thursday, 18 May 2017

Where do my taxes go now? Where will they go with a Rural Community?
 
This is a big topic so we'll first talk about where taxes go now in the LSD model of local services delivery. In an upcoming post we will discuss the RC aspect.




Current tax rates consist of Provincial services (Road maintenance) + SNB services (assessment) + LSD local services (Administration, rural planning, fire protection, policing, dog control, recreation, solid waste, etc).


At this time, there are 8 different LSD tax rates in the proposed YRC Project area ranging from $0.4030 to $0.5821. Combined with taxes that cover the cost of GNB services ($0.4115) and of SNB services ($0.0194), that gives a range of total tax rates in the YRC Project area of $0.8389 to $1.0130 per $100 of assessment.

In the LSD model of local services delivery, all rates are set by the provincial government. Decisions on the LSD portion are made by the Department of Environment and Local Government with no guarantee residents will have input on the decision. An LSD does not have a bank account and cannot save funds from year to year.

For more information please see:

http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/lg-gl/pdf/PropertyTaxation.pdf

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

From Above...Unique View of Keswick Ridge 
Photo submitted by Tom Beckley  

Tuesday, 16 May 2017




"This River is a vital part of all communities..."

In 1979 the dream of Burris Coburn was fulfilled.   He wanted a roadside market and property in Island View was the selected site with the Trans-Canada Highway passing by.  The Coburn Farm was on Keswick Ridge.  Many friends were made during the 19 years.  Neighbours worked for us and also watched the property when we were closed. To this day we still have our friends tell us they wished we were still in business.    

We started out with produce, dairy and bakery products and ice cream and grew to include year round Christmas Centre, greenhouse and distributor of Vesey Seeds.  We were known for the large ice cream cones.

Coburn’s Garden Patch, known as the Big Apple to some and The Patch to others served the surrounding communities, which are included in the proposed area of the York Rural Community.  Yes the St. John River separates the South from the North but this River is a vital part of all communities.  It is beautiful but also a wonderful playground for summer and winter activities.  

I am looking forward to the benefits of being a Rural Community.  The gas tax dollars will be appreciated with improvements to recreation, warming facilities possibly.    Listen to the video clip of Doug Munn, mayor of Miramachi Rural Community, they have put their gas tax dollars to great use and we could as well when we form a Rural Community.



 Jean Coburn
KeswickRidge


Coburn's Garden Patch - Island View, Kingsclear LSD
(photo submitted by Jean Coburn)




Comment from Douglas LSD resident on results of plebiscite vote...

Please post the following to your blog on my behalf as I do not have a computer or internet service where I live in my LSD. 

The following article from the Times Transcript clearly shows that there are some communities that see past the propaganda put forth by DELG and the YRC Project Steering Committee, not everyone drinks the cool-aid.

Frank LeBlanc
Tay Creek NB

Acadian Peninsula residents overwhelmingly reject amalgamation
  • Times & Transcript
  • Tue May 16 2017
  • Page: A4
Voters in the Acadian Peninsula have overwhelmingly rejected amalgamation of their communities.

Voters in 10 local service districts in the Lameque-Miscou region on the Acadian Peninsula voted in the plebiscite on Monday to decide whether to merge with two neighbouring communities to form a new rural community.

A total of 1,600 ballots were cast against amalgamation, with 725 cast in favour of the move.
The communities in the plebiscite included: Cap-Bateau, Coteau Road, Haut-Lamèque, Miscou Island, Ste-Cecile, Petite-Lamèque, Pigeon Hill, Pointe-Alexandre, Pointe-Canot, the parish of Shippagan, the village of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaël and the Town of Lamèque.

Voter turnout was 74 per cent, according to the Elections New Brunswick website.


Monday, 15 May 2017

Here is what I do not understand about Kingsclear LSD...


Upper Kingsclear Fire Department and Community Centre in Kingsclear LSD


A participant at one of the Round 1 Public Consultation sessions added the following comment to the questionnaire that they submitted at the end of the meeting:  "I understand everything except why residents of Kingsclear were not asked whether they agree to be included or not."  

To help clarify for themselves how Kingsclear LSD (KLSD) became one of the partners in the YRC Project, we recommend that KLSD residents review the Power Point presentation that was given by the KLSD Advisory Committee at three public meetings back in May, 2016 (it has been uploaded to the YRC Project website under the Archives section and it is on the KLSD website - www.kingsclear.org). 

At each of those three public meetings KLSD residents were given an update on their 2016 budget. They were also given an update on the community restructuring options that were being studied by the KLSD Advisory Committee members at the time.  One of those options was the YRC Project.  

After the KLSD Advisory Committee members first introduced the YRC Project, and all through the summer of 2016, Kingsclear LSD residents were given the opportunity to sign a petition which asked the Minister of Local Government to allow the LSDs of Kingsclear, Keswick Ridge and Douglas along with parts of Bright and Queensbury LSDs to explore the concept of York Rural Community through a feasibility study. 

There were 450 signatures on the petition before it was submitted to the Minister in early October, 2016 (only 125 were needed - 25 per partnering LSD).  Of the 450 signatures, 96 were from Kingsclear LSD residents including all five members of the KLSD Advisory Committee. 

That is how Kingsclear LSD became part of the YRC Project. Residents were indeed asked and more than the required number agreed that it was appropriate to explore the idea of York Rural Community through a feasibility study.  

The study is ongoing and the KLSD Advisory Committee members who now volunteer on the YRC Project steering committee invite all KLSD residents to participate by attending meetings and/or submitting their comments, advice, concerns or suggestions.

Debby Peck
KLSD Advisory Committee Chair 


Island View in Kingsclear LSD



Thursday, 11 May 2017

Taxes and a Vision of a Better Community

The YRC Project area (with the St. John River in the far distance) as seen from Route 617 
Last night (May 9, 2017) I attended the fifth of five public meetings introducing the Rural Community Feasibility Study that is currently underway in our region. The question and comment period has run a similar course in most meetings and as a member of the Executive and the Steering Committee for the project I have attended all of them. The comment period typically starts with strong opponents, and usually their greatest concern is the tax implications of a move to a new model of local service delivery. Despite the best efforts of our rotating presenters and the able support of Shawn Robichaud of provincial government, there remain significant misconceptions about taxes. The biggest is that our taxes will ultimately go up much more than the projected 1.5 cents per $100 of assessment.


Currently we all pay into the gas tax. We pay several dollars every time we fill up our tanks. We likely pay MORE than our urban neighbours because living in a rural place, we drive more. 

For the past ten years or so, the federal government refunded a portion of the gas tax to municipalities in order to upgrade declining infrastructure. Eighty percent of Canadians live in urban areas and they are a significant lobby. Currently, as residents of the partnering LSDs in the YRC Project we are not getting any of the gas tax rebate. This has resulted in a giveaway of $5 million from the Project area over the last 10 years. 

In my view, we could have done a lot of good with $5 million; upgraded recreational infrastructure, refurbished community halls, perhaps a seniors centre so our elderly are not forced into Fredericton for assisted living, and more.

One gentleman commented at the meeting last night, that these funds, “are not new money” and that if we get the $750,000, someone else won’t have it to spend, the result being that the government will ultimately need to raise the tax rate (and thus we all lose). This isn’t necessarily the case. We would merely be laying claim to the portion of the gas tax that is rightfully ours. For years now, other communities have been spending and benefiting from the tax dollars that we have contributed to that pot. 

As other rural communities have organized, the pool of money has decrease per capita, but the federal government has not increased the gas tax to cover a shortfall. This is all the more reason to be at the front end of the curve on becoming an incorporated community.


The same is true of federal dollars that we contribute to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. They have an Innovative Communities Fund with the mandate to:
-         develop competitive, productive, strategic industry sectors;
-         strengthen community infrastructure in rural communities; and
-         invest in projects that enhance communities’ capacity to overcome economic development challenges and take advantage of their strengths, assets and opportunities presented.

As LSDs, unincorporated areas, we are currently not eligible for this fund. We have already contributed tax dollars into this fund as well, we simply are not able to recoup any of that investment. 

The same is true of the Green Municipal Fund of Federation of Canadian Municipalities
http://www.fcm.ca/home/programs/green-municipal-fund.htm

 That fund was championed in the early 2000s by a current member of the York project area. It began with a series of large (hundreds of millions) federal grants. It could fund green transportation projects, green buildings (e.g. seniors complex).  I called a few years ago to see about potential funding for a study in Keswick Ridge. When I told the gentleman on the other end of the line that we were an LSD, he said, “this conversation is over, you are not a legal entity that they can deal with.” More of our pre-paid tax dollars that we cannot access.

I am not advocating that we go out on a wild spending spree or create fancy or expensive infrastructure just for the sake of spending money. Surely though, people have some ideas for things which could benefit our community. Things that are currently out of our reach financially, but which we could have if we had the vision to dream them and a governmental structure that would allow us to access taxes that we have already paid and that we continue to pay.


I would like to end with a quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. He once said, “I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” 

I am not advocating that we pay more taxes, but by putting 1.5 cents per $100 of valuation on the table and forming a rural community, we will be able to access all sorts “civilization” that we have already paid for and that is there for the asking.


Tom Beckley

Secretary, York Rural Community Project

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

There Was a Full House in Bright...


Round 1 Public Consultation - Mactaquac Provincial Park Lodge in Bright LSD
The last meeting of Round 1 Public Consultations took place last night (May 9, 2017) at the Mactaquac Provincial Park Lodge in Bright LSD.  There was an overflow crowd present made up of interested residents from all parts of the YRC Project area.  

The presentation was delivered by Dr. Don Floyd from Lower Queensbury.  The question and answer session focused on matters such as the desire to bring decision making authority back to our local residents, whether or not there is any value to having "another layer" government, what a dedicated access to gas tax funding involves, the makeup of a rural community council, whether roads will be improved if a Rural Community is formed, the implications of a larger tax base, the way businesses can be involved in the Project, the way owners of seasonal properties can provide input to the Project etc.  

Meeting attendees were reminded that the Feasibility Study for the YRC Project will compile the facts about all of these aspects of changing from a Local Service District to a Rural Community model of delivering local services to the people in the YRC Project area.  

Public participation is vital to the Project's outcome.  The Steering Committee is asking all area residents to take the time to consult the Project website and to provide their email contact information so that they can be sent regular Project updates.  Residents who are interested in making a public comment about the Project are welcome to do so by posting to the Project blog (send them to yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com).

The Preliminary report for the YRC Project Feasibility Study will be released on June 30.  Then the Round 2 Public Consultation will begin.  Stay tuned.  Consult the Project website often. 

www.yorkruralcommunity.ca



Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A response to “A Campaign of half-truth and fear...”

Dear Mr. LeBlanc,

After reading your comments I felt compelled to respond.

First, it is my opinion that status quo is not an option. To support this I would offer the following rationale. The Rural Community initiative came about as a result of the 2008 Finn Report which had been commissioned by the government of the day. Of note is that each successive government going forward has endorsed that document. In his report Mr. Finn laid out the arguments as to why the current model of Local Service Districts (LSDs) is not tenable. Adjectives such as inefficient and unsustainable were used.  There are several things that I clearly remember from that report such as the fact that NB has over 350 municipal entities. Nova Scotia by contrast has just over 70 and they have a larger population. These large numbers of municipal entities are expensive to maintain. Add to this the knowledge that NB is somewhere around $14 billion dollars in debt and one can understand government’s support for this concept. According to the Department of Environment and Local Government (DELG), NB is the last province in Canada to use the Local Service District model although my understanding is that parts of PEI still use LSDs as well.  

Considering the above facts in their totality (expensive and inefficient current model; $14B in debt; last province to use the LSD model; support by both parties that have held power) it is not hard to read the writing on the wall. The government has stated that this change will not be forced on anyone. My belief is that we will hit a critical mass when the majority of LSDs have moved to Rural Communities and then the government will mandate that the rest move as well. What is that number? I don’t know. So far there are ten rural communities which would suggest 30 - 50 LSDs have taken the step. There are more projects than York going on right now so those numbers will only grow. We may not be forced down this path now. Maybe not next year or the year after, but I am convinced that it is inevitable. I personally would rather take the step on our own terms rather than wait and risk being told how it will be done.

The figure of an increase of 1.5 cents per hundred as a tax rate increase was provided by the analyst from DELG as were the other cost estimates. Are they accurate? I don’t know. I am not an analyst but there have been ten projects go forward so they must have ample historical data to go by when determining the estimates for this project.

With regard to translation services, although this would be ideal, Section 35 of Bill 64 states “A municipality whose official minority population represents at least 20% of its total population is required to adopt and publish its by-laws in both official languages.” I don’t believe that we have met this threshold.

The suggestion that a Rural Community could hire its own dog catcher is only an example of what the Upper Miramichi Rural Community did. It worked out well for them according to their Mayor. It may or may not in the YRC but the salient point is that by being a Rural Community we have options and choices that we do not have now.

The point made at the consultation meetings concerning the Minister of DELG being our de facto mayor is true. If you believe that access to a locally elected mayor of 10 000 people would be the same level of difficulty as contacting a provincial Minister representing 753 000 people I would respectfully disagree.  You are correct in that you can contact other people such as our MLA or even provincial employees but surely we can agree that this is not as effective as contacting the person in charge such as a mayor or as is the current case, the Minister.  Further, it is a political reality to say that government (regardless of party) listens more carefully to its own members than those of the opposition.

In your letter you raised several concerns centred on the size of the proposed project area. When one looks at the map the area is indeed imposing. However, closer examination would suggest that this is true primarily because of the size of the Douglas LSD. Scrutiny reveals that the vast portion of Douglas LSD is sparsely populated at best. Further, I would suggest that easily 70 - 80% of the population of the proposed project area resides within 30 kilometres of Fredericton.

Your comment about adding another layer of government is not accurate in my opinion. We currently operate under a Local Service District model. If this initiative is successful that model would be replaced by the Rural Community form of governance.

I personally do not share your concern regarding decreasing population. Although there are some areas of the province (most notably the northern half) that are experiencing this reality, I have not seen evidence of the same situation around here. In our area I have not seen long term vacant homes but I do see new construction and an active real estate market. I would suggest that with our close proximity to Fredericton that we will continue to realize a modest level of growth. Certainly not to the same degree as enjoyed in Dieppe but measurable to say the least.

Regarding taxes, I too do not want to see any unnecessary increase in the rate. I believe that by being part of a Rural Community we are better protected from this and can do a much better job of handling our finances. To support my position I would offer the following:

1)  For 2017 the rate in Keswick Ridge LSD went up. When I checked into this I was told that $.04 was to support the new Fire Hall expansion. A further $.015 was to offset a reduction in the tax base of approximately 1.49%.  What I found troubling was that for tax year 2016 there was an overall increase of 5.5% in the tax base.  Why was there not a corresponding decrease in the tax rate? I have not been able to get an answer to that question.
2)  The tax rate is set by the Department of Environment and Local Government as is our operating budget.  Although our budget is set by ELG, during the year we currently do not receive any updates as to our budget status. In fact, even at the end of the year we are not provided with any information as to our budget. So we don’t know if we are overspent, underspent or dead on.  It is my understanding that if we are underspent the money is returned to government. As a Rural Community, we would be responsible for all facets of the budgetary process including setting our budget, establishing our tax rate and tracking our financials. As well, any surplus would be retained and made available for the next year.

With regard to your comments about a Local Service District having a say about their tax dollars being spent elsewhere I would again respectfully disagree. As proof I would offer my own experience at the 2016 Keswick Ridge community meeting. At that meeting the representative from ELG stated unequivocally that the Minister was considering allocating $38,000/year for the next 20 years from the taxes from Keswick Ridge to help support the Playhouse project. He further stated that he (the Minister) could do so with the stroke of a pen. I was there. I heard it. Further, check with your own LSD reps (I did). I was told that $20,000 per year for the next 20 years of Douglas LSD tax money was committed by the Minister to support the Millville Fire Dept. I was advised that this was done without consultation or notification. This is fact, not fear mongering.

In conclusion, I applaud you for your interest and initiative as evidenced  by your participation in not one but two presentations. It is my sincere hope that my remarks address some of your concerns.

Respectfully,

Ron Smith
143 Route 616

Keswick Ridge, NB

Sunday, 7 May 2017

YRC Round 1 Public Consultation Meetings Continue This Week at Mactaquac Provincial Park Lodge 
REMINDER - 

The YRC Project Steering Committee, in association with the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government, is beginning a study to determine the feasibility of forming a Rural Community to restructure the delivery of services to residents in the Local Service Districts of Kingsclear, Douglas, Bright, Keswick Ridge and in the community of Lower Queensbury. 
Over the next few months, three rounds of public information/consultation meetings have been scheduled as part of the study.  You are invited to attend any or all of them.  The last meeting in this first round will take place as follows:


Round 1 Meeting Location
Date (2017)
Registration 6:30 pm
Meeting 7 – 9 pm

Mactaquac Provincial Park Lodge
1265 Route 105
Mactaquac, NB


May 9




At this meetings you will learn how the feasibility study will be done, what becoming a rural community is all about (pros and cons) and how feedback from residents in the partnering LSDs will be gathered.  The presentation will be the same as it has been for each previous meeting in Round 1 but you are welcome to attend this one as well.  The opinions, concerns, suggestions and comments of all Project area residents are very important to the study.  Please participate.  
A Successful Open House to Consult with the YRC Project Area Businesses...



The first Business Open House was held at the Keswick Ridge Community Hall 5:00 – 7:00 pm on May 4, 2017.  During the week prior to the Open House, over 150 information packages and personal invitations were handed to business leaders throughout the YRC Project area.  

Presentation materials at the Open House were prepared to address main topics including:

Boundaries
Taxation
Communication
Feedback
Frequently Asked Questions/Answers
Rural Plans
Right-to-Vote


Video clips featuring Mayor Doug Munn from Upper Miramichi Rural Community were aired to several groups attending, together with prepared YRC information handout materials specially designed for the business audience.  

There was a high level of interest and engagement throughout the meeting time.  Most of the attendees were aware of earlier YRC information sessions or published materials.  Feedback and contact information sheets were collected from participants and a follow-up questionnaire will be sent to all those who provided their email contact information. 

More information for YRC business will be presented at the YRC Project Open Houses that are scheduled for the evenings of July 11 (at the Riverside Resort) and July 12 (at the Keswick Valley Recreation Centre), following the release of the YRC Preliminary Feasibility Study report. Each of those Open Houses will be from 7 to 9 pm.  Please mark your calendars.

You can keep up with notices for the YRC Business Community by going to the website (www.yorkruralcommunity.ca) and clicking on the Consultations/Events button on the banner at the top of the Home page.  

Any Businesses that would like to contact the YRC Business Consultation Committee can send a message to yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.




Saturday, 6 May 2017

"A Campaign of half-truth and fear..." 

As a resident of one of the LSD’s that could possibly be affected by the current rural community project, I attended 2 of your information sessions, one in North Cardigan and one in Burtt’s Corner.  At both of these meetings the committee members made the presentation with the emphasis on the fact that the formation of a Rural Community would be the eventual outcome of the project.  At the meeting in North Cardigan, the notion was floated that the area of the LSD of Douglas where I reside would have two choices, either join the Nashwaak Rural Community or join the York Rural Community, there was no discussion about the third option of “status quo”.  The information presented was misleading and inaccurate, and was extremely one-sided.

The committee member indicated that our taxes would only increase by 1.5¢/$100 of assessment based on the ridiculous budget that was put forth.  Legal fees of $10,000/year is a joke, a Rural Community will need to develop by-laws, and will need to enforce those by-laws, legal fees will far exceed the $10K stated. If there are no by-laws, why bother with a Mayor and Council, it only adds cost to my already increasing tax burden.  I did not see anything in the budget for translation services, or do you intend to conduct all of your civic business in one language only?  Translation services are expensive, and should be provided by every level of government.  The budget presented was a joke, yet it was being touted as what determines the tax increase that resident will have to deal with, reality check indicates it will be higher, if not immediately, soon.  The budget did not contain any mention of “Mandatory Employment Related Costs”, costs that must be paid by the employer, and a Rural Community would be an employer (Clerk, Manager, etc…).  The Committee Member even went so far as to indicate that the rural community could hire its own dog catcher, rather than depend on the NBSPCA.  Ridiculous when one considers the size of the rural community being proposed.

The steering committee, at both meetings I attended, put forth the fact that the Minister of ELG was our mayor, and then went on to say that we had no representation.  I beg to differ, we have representation, it is called the Provincial Government.  The Minister is our Mayor and although he may not always be available to us residents, he is an elected official and if we can’t reach the Minister of ELG, we can always go through our local MLA.  At the meeting in Burtt’s Corner, the committee even indicated that if our MLA was on the wrong side of government, our wishes could be ignored.  This is fear mongering at its best.  With an elected council, our wishes can still be ignored.  The committee indicated that if council did not listen or failed to ignore our wishes, we could vote them out, we can do the same thing with our current representative, the Provincial Government, if you remember we have voted for one term governments allot lately.

Should the residents of the affected LSD’s vote for a Rural Community, they will be adding an additional level of government, more bureaucracy.  Right now, in my LSD, I have the Provincial Government (which includes RSC 11, created under ELG Legislation) and the Federal Government.  If a Rural Community comes to pass, it will add a civic level of government on top of the current 2 levels of government.  This level of government will do nothing but add extra red tape to everything.  There will be three levels of government, something I prefer to avoid.  Further, at the North Cardigan meeting, the steering committee representative made comments about not being able to find our Mayor, as he was from the North.  I would argue that with LSD’s the size of Douglas, Keswick Ridge, Bright, Queensbury and Kingsclear all rolled into one rural community, if I wanted to find whomever the Mayor of this Rural Community is, I would need Ground Search and Rescue to find him/her.

Comments were made at the Burtt’s Corner meeting about the gas tax fund.  The money available to a rural community is based on population.  I’m not sure if noticed or not, but almost every person at these steering committee meetings has either grey hair or no hair.  The population of New Brunswick is getting older.  We currently have more people dying every year than we have births.  Furth, to add to the decreasing population level in our rural communities, people are leaving the rural lifestyle and are headed to the city.  The population is decreasing, and if those of us that chose to stay in a rural setting decide to form a rural community, any services paid for by the rural community tax that was collected will be shared with fewer and fewer people, therefore increasing the tax burden of those in the community.  Fewer people and the same services means increased taxes, or less service.  Any infrastructure developed with this fund will have to be maintained, the cost will be added to the tax burden, taxes will increase.

The steering committee members who make the presentations at these meetings are spreading half-truths.   In Burtt’s Corner it was said that the City of Fredericton is building a new Playhouse and they will be coming with their hand out looking for a contribution.  Without a Rural Community Council who could say “NO” to the City of Fredericton, the province (DELG) will decide and give the City of Fredericton the money requested of the LSD and we will have no say in the matter, the committee member also indicated that the same could be said in relation to the new Aquatic Centre that the City of Fredericton is looking into.  Again, this is fear mongering as the LSD would have a say, just like they did about user fees at the City of Fredericton rinks for minor hockey.

I am sensing that the York Rural Community Steering Committee believes that they are not convincing people at the rate that they thought they would and have now decided to begin a campaign of half-truth and fear in order to convince people to vote for a rural community.

In my opinion, in order for the York Rural Community to be formed and be a legitimate entity, when the plebiscite is held a minimum of 50% of eligible voters must cast a ballot.  Based on the ballots cast, the majority vote, either YES or NO prevails.  Less than 50% of eligible voters casting ballots on such a serious issue would not display a legitimate outcome, regardless of what that outcome might be.

I do not have internet at me residence, nor do I own a computer.  I was unable to go to your blog site, so I would ask that you post this message to the committee on your blog for all to see.

Thank you, and please add these comments to the YRC Feasibility Study.  I have taken the liberty to CC the Minister of Environment and Local Government on this note.

Frank and Debbie LeBlanc
3403 Route 620
Tay Creek, New Brunswick
E6B 1L1