About 14 Sackville residents showed up today for a second rally at town hall to protest against the forced amalgamation of the town with Dorchester and three local service districts.
“I’m participating in the rally because I believe in democracy,” said Margaret Ann Capper.
“This is not democratic, this is authoritarian,” she added.
“Why is this being done?” Capper asked. “There’s no explanation for why it’s being done.”
She added that if the province is pushing ahead with municipal reform because it’s in dire financial straits, it should be honest about that.
Anne Miller, who has lived in Sackville for more than 50 years, said she joined the rally to protest against the lack of consultation with local people.
“It was very shocking for it just to be announced like that and we definitely need some consultation on it,” she said.
Miller added that she’s concerned about the way Sackville will be represented on the amalgamated council.
“Sackville has eight councillors right now and it would only have four…and that doesn’t seem right,” she said.
“Sackville and Dorchester seem very separate to me, very distinct and they’re just going to lump them all together.”
‘No say, whatsoever’
Sandy Burnett said he joined the rally to protest against the fact that the province has presented amalgamation as a fait accompli — something done and irreversible before those affected even learn about it.
“The whole idea of community participation has been run over roughshod by Premier Higgs, by his minions along the way and the communities that are being dragged into this have had no say whatsoever,” he added.
Burnett said there may be some administrative advantages to amalgamating the various communities in what the province calls Entity 40.
“But I can’t help but suspect that it’s really more a matter of the province wanting to shift the responsibility for taxation and services to a local level,” he said, adding that Higgs and company are hoping voters will blame municipal governments for raising taxes rather than the province.
Sackville resident Carol Cooke said she organized today’s rally and the one yesterday after she read CHMA’s online reports about how key decisions on amalgamation are being made behind closed doors.
“I just got kind of ticked off,” she said.
“They’re rushing it through and they’re probably using their urban planners or something to set up the map boundaries and I said to myself and a couple of friends, ‘You’ve got to do something about this.'”
Cooke said she’s hoping Premier Higgs and facilitator Chad Peters will allow more time for consultation.
“Big picture: consult with the people, slow it down,” she added.
Today, Cooke received a two-sentence response from Peters sent from his PR firm Lynwood Strategies advising her to take her concerns to the department of local government: