The District of Port Edward’s fears came true on Monday March 21 when community members Larry and Violette Bowman handed council members the counter petition to bylaw 513, a bylaw that would allow the district to borrow $2,000,000 to build a new school, with more than the number of required signatures.
“Port Edward needs a school but [this isn’t the time] to spend two million dollars when we are on shaky economic ground. There are a lot of people struggling out here,” explained Larry Bowman, adding that with the debt the water treatment plant and other expenditures have recently cost taxpayers, it wouldn’t be in the community’s best interest to continue racking up the debt.
“The general consensus from the people was that nobody really wanted to go into debt any further right now on any account because there are some rapid rising costs of living here…We just can’t willy-nilly be out there spending all kinds of big money thinking we’re going to enhance the community,” commented Larry Bowman.
Larry and his wife Violette Bowman decided to go door-to-door with the petition after hearing a considerable amount of talk against bylaw 513 around town, as well as the fact that it bothered them that the petition could only be signed at the Municipal Hall, the meeting area of city council who were the ones who felt strongly that the school was needed despite the resulting debt.
The pair took the petition door-to-door to about 85 homes in Port Edward, all together collecting 69 signature, plus five signatures that were collected from the Municipal Hall expressing opposition.
At an open house the District of Port Edward held around two weeks ago, Mayor Dave MacDonald and CAO Ron Bedard argued that although the creation of the new school, an addition on to the current Community Centre, would put the district further into debt it would not make residents see a drastic increase in taxes like many expected. They also expressed their fears of the district not having a school because it could mean less people having the urge to move to Port Edward, which could have a number of negative effects on the town.
The Bowman’s did have an argument against the council’s stated as negative effects of not having the school.
“The argument is that Dodge Cove hasn’t had an elementary school in years and people are still lining up to get [to live there],” said Larry, with Violette adding that there hasn’t been a property reduction in Dodge Cove since the closure of its school.
“They’re doing fine without an elementary school,” started Larry,
“With or without the school here there has been a reduction in property values. Even with the school here, we haven’t had a lot of properties sold.” He finished.
The District of Port Edward now has the option of going for a referendum on the issue.
Updates on this story, as well as Port Edward’s Council members reaction to the opposition will be available shortly, after the district’s council meeting this evening.