When municipal amalgamation was being considered by the council of the rural municipality of Shellmouth-Boulton in 2013 this consideration was being done by the municipal councillors themselves. From what I can gather, the councillors talked about amalgamation amongst themselves and they may have individually talked to friends and neighbours but there never was a public meeting to discuss what was best for the municipality.
I learned of these discussions from the councillor in the ward in which I live. I attended council meetings and specifically asked if and when public meetings were to be held. I thought that it would be interesting and insightful to hear what options were being considered. I had my own ideas but I was curious to know what others in the municipality thought. Sadly, council did not share the desire to hear from their ratepayers. No public consultation meeting was ever held.
The questions that I had were never answered. The following are a few that I thought might have been relevant:
-What efficiencies could be achieved by municipal amalgamation? Do we really need 5 councils (with 5 reeves/mayors, 25+ councillors, 5 CAOs, etc.) to manage the affairs of an area with approximately 3000 people?
-How much money would be saved by eliminating duplication of services by amalgamating with one, two, three or more adjacent municipalities? What cost savings could be expected by considering different options?
-What improvements (infrastructure, programs, etc.) could be achieved by reallocating the tax dollars saved by the elimination of duplication?
The closest we ever came to having a public consultation were the public information meetings that were held in Angusville and Inglis in October 2013. These were in no way consultative. We were being told what the two councils had planned. The fix was in. The deadline was looming. There was no time left to consult the public. That time had been squandered resisting amalgamation. The feedback sheet that we were given at the end of these meetings was nothing more than a feeble attempt to declare that the public had been asked for input. All that they were really asking for was suggestions for a name of the new municipality that they were imposing on the ratepayers.