"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