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A dozen people walk out on regional consultations in Stephenville

Some of the people in attendance at the public consultations on regional government held in Stephenville on Tuesday evening got up and left, including from front: Coun. Tim Alexander of Kippens, Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten of Kippens and Marilyn Rose, chairperson of the Local Service District of Sheaves Cove.
Some of the people in attendance at the public consultations on regional government held in Stephenville on Tuesday evening got up and left, including from front: Coun. Tim Alexander of Kippens, Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten of Kippens and Marilyn Rose, chairperson of the Local Service District of Sheaves Cove.

Kippens Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten believes the proposed regional government in this province is just another level of government to tax people out of their homes.

That’s why she was one of a dozen people to follow Dave Callahan, a resident of St. George’s, when he called on people to leave – calling the consultation meeting a farce and pointing to the fact that reference was already being made to a model of municipal and regional government in British Columbia.

There were 42 people representing a cross section of the community and town councils from the area that remained in attendance.

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Emily Thompson of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment had said during her introductory remarks that the consultation wasn’t looking for feedback on one model, that they had great discussion around the province so far at the previous 15 consultations.

Thompson said there was nothing being proposed at the consultation and that it was simply a conversation about regional government.

However, Brake-Patten wasn’t buying any of it and said she has been following talk on regional government since 2015, starting with preliminary discussions in Stephenville, where she said there were lots of questions and a strong opposition to it.

She said the latest discussions she was in on took place at a Southwest Coast Joint Council meeting in McKays last month, where there were representatives of 14 towns and the local service district where it was hosted.

Brake-Patten said there was strong opposition to this proposed regional government at that meeting.

“The public are misinformed on this and are trying to push this through for another tier of taxation,” she said.

Brake-Patten said we have a beautiful province but what’s needed is some new plans to develop and attract new families to the area.

“There should be incentives for new families rather than taxing us out of our homes. This is not the way to do it,” she said.

The Stephenville consultation was the 16th of 22 that are being held across the province.

Thompson said raw data collected at the consultations and online from across the province will be posted online so people can see what is heard.

Consultations take place from 7-9:30 p.m. in Corner Brook at College of the North Atlantic today; Rocky Harbour at Fisherman’s Landing Inn on Thursday; and St. Anthony at Grenfell Interpretation Centre on Monday.

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