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Holyrood calls off boundary expansion along Salmonier Line

By Craig Westcott/March 10, 2023

Holyrood council has decided to keep its boundaries on the Salmonier Line the way they are, effectively killing any notion to expand further into cabin country.

The previous council came up with the idea a couple of years ago of possibly expanding its border along the Salmonier Line to better protect its watershed. The idea seemed to make some sense, as the Town’s volunteer fire department answers emergency calls in the area when necessary and as resources allow. But when the Town hired a consultant to examine the notion, it raised the hackles of some residents along the route who objected to paying municipal taxes for limited services.

On Tuesday, with the consultant’s report now in hand, Deputy Mayor Michelle Woodford moved that council put an end to the idea.

Woodford said the consultants, LW Consulting Limited, looked at the feasibility of expanding Holyrood’s municipal service boundary and planning boundary, but recommended against it.

Mayor Gary Goobie, who was part of the previous council that ordered the study, accepted the findings.

“We thought that because of the way the boundary was aligned going inside Salmonier Line – where it sort of deviates to the left – we felt that maybe it should be brought in line parallel with Salmonier Line and go up as far as just before the Wilds (golf resort), somewhere around there. So we looked at the options – were there benefits for the town in the long term, or it is just not viable. In order to address our questions, we felt it was appropriate to consult with a professional consulting company… and they had the opportunity to interview councillors, they interviewed the residents and the cabin owners in on Salmonier Line. And so, there was a process that unfolded.”

Goobie said the consultants briefed council on their findings last week.

“At the end they recommend it doesn’t really make (sense), there’s no benefit there, it’s in nobody’s best interest at this point to move this process forward,” he said. “It would not make any sense that we would have to apply property tax to cabin owners and permanent residents in that area when we’re not able at this time to provide the same level of services as we would in our community. That would be very inequitable and very unfair to those people. And it’s not like we were in a position where we could charge fees. It’s either charge property tax or that’s it.”

Councillor Laura Crawley complimented the consultants for being “very thorough, and very professional.”

Councillor Steve Winsor said he agreed with that assessment. 

“LW Consulting did a very thorough job,” he said.

Winsor added that when he got involved in the issue after he was elected last year, it didn’t make any sense to him that Holyrood should try taking in such a remote and sparsely populated area given the Town’s fiscal challenges. “I just didn’t see how we could possibly deliver the services to that area,” he said. “And the area didn’t want it. So why were we doing it? So, I fully support the process, it was thorough, and the recommendation.”

The motion to drop the expansion passed unanimously.

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