Elizabethtown-Kitley Mayor Brant Burrow says that when Brockville’s mayor met with the township’s council to raise the idea of amalgamation, he was met with a deafening silence.
“You could’ve heard a pin drop,” said Burrow.
The Elizabethtown-Kitley mayor says that if the question of amalgamation came to a vote today, he would be a solid no.
Burrow adds that if any amalgamation were to take place, it would probably be a process of years or even decades.
Brockville’s new mayor, Jason Baker, agrees that amalgamation would take a long time.
“Full-on amalgamations are extremely complicated, and it would take a long time to have something like that in place,” he said.
However, Baker says, there are potential advantages to amalgamation, and he believes that the idea should be considered throughout Leeds and Grenville.
“I think we should amalgamate — if not the entire county, at least the southern portion of the county should be one municipality,” he added.
Elizabethtown-Kitley used to be two separate townships until they merged in 2001.
Burrow says that amalgamation is still an issue for some residents close to 20 years later.
“To this day, there’s still some resentment that holds over from that,” Burrow said.
Both mayors agree there could be some advantages to amalgamation when lobbying other levels of government.
Leeds and Grenville has a population of roughly 100,000 residents, making it a little more difficult for provincial and federal politicians to ignore, Burrow explained.
“A population of less than 10,000, like ours, or 22,000 or 24,000, like Brockville, it’s very difficult even if you’re shouting,” he added.
Baker believes there could be savings in amalgamation as well.
“If we joined and had one tender for asphalt, what’s the price compared to putting in three ones?” he said.
But Burrow thinks a better way to go is co-operation, not amalgamation.
He says there is already a service agreement between the fire departments of Brockville and Elizabethtown-Kitley, adding that individual partnerships like these are much more likely to happen.
“Maybe we’re going to partner on a new employment land where we have the land, and they can bring the services. Maybe we can take advantage of some of the personnel and expertise that they have and we don’t,” he said.
Baker agrees that amalgamation may be a long conversation, moving forward in baby steps, and says that’s why he’s trying to get it started now.