Merger will be hot topic for cold months

Beaver Valley residents will be hearing more about the pros and cons of amalgamating their communities this winter.

Beaver Valley residents will be hearing more about the pros and cons of amalgamating their communities this winter.

A study committee representing Fruitvale, Montrose, and Area A is still reviewing a report on amalgamation completed last spring by Neilson-Welch Consultants. The $15,000 preliminary study was paid for by the regional district.

“While the report has provided a great deal of important information, it has raised some additional questions that need to be explored before we can discuss it publicly,” said Fruitvale councillor Tabatha Webber, who chairs the study committee.

The consultant has been asked for additional information, mostly relating to different boundary scenarios for a district municipality in the Beaver Valley. The final report is due shortly.

The numbers provided so far are not definitive in terms of whether amalgamation would be a good deal financially for most valley residents, Webber indicated.

“We should know a lot more fairly shortly as to what the (proposed) boundaries are going to look like.”

After the report is finalized, the new councils will be updated and then Webber wants to have some public meetings this winter to find out whether citizens are interested in pursuing amalgamation further.

If there is interest, the next step would be to seek provincial funding for a full-scale study. The process also requires discussions with the province about how changes to provincial grants and services would be affected and possibly phased in, as these can have a significant impact on the calculations.

If there is the political will to proceed with amalgamation at that point,  the next step would be to put a proposal for a new municipality to voters in a referendum.

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