A look at amalgamation
Traytown and Glovertown are not far apart, and that connection may become a little closer as the two towns consider a feasibility study on amalgamation.
© Brandon Anstey/tc•Media
JOIN IN – The municipalities of Traytown and Glovertown have agreed on a feasibility study that will examine at the advantages and disadvantages of amalgamation. There are concerns, but Glovertown is willing to take a serious look at coming together with Traytown, said its mayor, Doug Churchill.
It was an idea that came up a while back, but now is a good time to take a serious look at coming together and what that would mean for the two towns, said John Baird, mayor of Traytown.
“This initiated with the previous council around two years ago,” Baird told The Beacon. “There was an agreement to do a study with Glovertown to look at advantages, disadvantages and financial parameters. When the council got elected, we confirmed that we wanted to go ahead with the study to look at all of this stuff.”
According to Baird, Traytown does not have a town water service and that’s one of the items on the table.
“That’s certainly a consideration in all of this. It would be one way of looking at getting water.”
The two towns are close in distance, said Baird, and there’s a connecting relationship between the two municipalities.
“We have a good relationship,” he said. “We work together on common issues and common services. It’s the Glovertwon Fire Department that provides fire protection in Traytown, and we contribute financially to that. That’s one area we co-operate. We also co-operate in emergency planning. There’s back and forth with people in Traytown going out there to shop and that kind of thing.”
According to Doug Churchill, mayor of Glovertown, it was the prospect of water that started the process.
“This all started when the combination of the two councils went to St. John’s to talk water and the fact that Traytown was looking for a water supply,” said Churchill. “What we were looking for was for government to say how this was going to operate, how they were going to get funded and some of the things that were needed. At the time, the (municipal affairs) minister suggested that this was going to be such a costly project that the only way it was really feasible was if they had a larger tax base. That’s when amalgamation entered the conversation, and the fact they would need a bigger tax base that they would get from Glovertown.”
Connecting Traytown to Glovertown’s water supply would be a costly project, said Churchill, and that creates several concerns.
“Glovertown’s concern, of course, is what kind of a debt are we going to inherit. I’m sure their concern is about taxes going up. The other problem is not everybody in Traytown wants water services because a lot of these people are sufficient with their own wells, they’re happy enough with their constant supply of water. On the other hand, there are those who have shallower wells that don’t seem to work so great. They’re anxious to get a constant supply of water.”
The provincial government is picking up the tab on the feasibility study, and usually helps to cover the cost of joining towns so no municipality is at a disadvantage, said Churchill.
“In other places where amalgamation has came up, government has paid for some of the infrastructure around the communities. They say it’s an effort to put everybody on equal footing, so once you get into amalgamation no community is at a disadvantage. I understand that conversation doesn’t come up until after the feasibility study is done. So, that’s one of the big questions — how much is government willing to put into the system?”
While it’s still early days for the study, Churchill expects the feasibility study to be completed within the next few months, and councils will then decide if there’s reason to move forward with amalgamation.
Residents will have the ultimate choice, said Baird.
“We’re far from making any decisions in Traytown,” he said. “It will be a community decision when the time comes. This study is basically to hash through the issues and to see what the advantages are. We haven’t determined how the decision will be made, but council and I agreed it has to be a decision made by the community.”