Quispamsis council passed a motion Tuesday night that will begin exploring the possibility of amalgamation with neighbouring Rothesay, beginning with a survey to gather the views of residents.
“This is just a survey, it’s just a question to get out there because there may be some that are for it, perhaps there may be some that are against it, or vice versa, but we need to know that,” said Quispamsis deputy mayor Libby O’Hara.
The conversation around amalgamation is not a new one. The topic has popped up numerous times over the years and the two towns already share police and fire services along with a library system, but now the town is looking to find out where community opinion lies.
“I think it’s very important that we listen to all of the residents to see what they want and I think we need to listen to them and hear what they have to say about amalgamation,” said Quispamsis mayor Gary Clark.
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Clark added that the idea will be brought up at a joint meeting with Rothesay council in September and that he looks forward to hearing what the town has to say about the possibility.
Rothesay’s mayor Nancy Grant did not accept an interview request instead writing that she has “no comment at this time” and that “Rothesay has had no discussion on this issue.”
If the two towns were to merge they would have a population of about 30,000 people, which is roughly half that of nearby Saint John, and would make them the fourth largest municipality in the province. But according to the deputy mayor of Quispamsis the idea is still in its infancy, meaning it’s too early to tell what kind of benefits, or issues, would come out of amalgamation.
“We don’t know yet, what the benefits are or what the pitfalls might be, until we investigate that. So I would say, the more information we have, the better we are able to make decisions,” O’Hara said.
She said the conversation is limited to the towns of Rothesay and Quispamsis and does not include Saint John.
“They have a lot of costs right now, they’re in a huge debt, and I for one do not want to see the residents of Quispamsis take that on,” O’Hara said.
“With Rothesay we share an environment and culture and similar amenities that I think would get well if that is the decision of the residents to go with amalgamation and if not we will continue being a bedroom community just within the boundaries of Quispamsis.”