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Ottawa Citizen - March 24, 2004

Rural residents form
alliance to lobby city hall

Most in crowd of 500 at meeting favour reversal of amalgamation.


   About 500 rural residents jammed a hall at the Nepean Sportsplex last night for the launch of a new organization called the Rural Council.
   Representatives of many rural organizations spoke in support of the creation of the alliance, which supporters say will allow rural residents to  a consolidated and stronger voice at Ottawa city hall.
   While no single issue was behind the dissatisfaction, it was clear from the speeches and applause the vast majority were in favour of de-amalgamation.
   Bob and Sally Charron came from Kars because they are unhappy since their area became part of Ottawa. "Amalgamation has done nothing for us ---we have less service now than we did before," said Mrs Charron.
   Dennis Beaudoin of West Carleton said he was also unhappy about the way rural residents have been treated by the city. "It goes without saying that most of us are here tonight because we have lots of concerns and issues." said Mr. Beaudoin, who would like to see if things can be fixed before resorting to de-amalgamation. "Our first course is to gain a stronger voice," said Mr. Beaudoin.
   Steven Lewis, a former Goulbourn councillor, said he has never seen such a groundswell around an issue and said he believes it will continue to grow, although he doesn't know if de-amalgamation is the answer.
   "I don't know how far you take it." said Mr. Lewis. "But I do know that something's got to change."
   City councillors Doug Thompson and Glen Brooks, who both represent rural parts of the city, were also at the meeting. In addition to supporting the creation of the Rural Council,


Mr. Thompson handed out a petition against the proposed closing of the Osgoode ward centre. He said he had organized a protest in Metcalfe earlier in the day that about 200 people attended.
   "I think what rural people are beginning to say is 'we've had enough'," said Mr. Thompson, who said he thinks the recent budget woes were the galvanizing factor in so many rural residents voicing their unhappiness, adding rural residents feel they've been hit with much harder than those in urban areas.
   Whatever the reason, those who attended made it very clear they'd had enough.
   Samantha Angell said she came to last night's meeting because she and her partner are building a new home outside Stittsville and are very concerned about the way the city handles rural issues. "I think we've heard some very interesting arguments tonight and we will definitely become members (of the Rural Council)," said Ms. Angell.
   It was clear that many of those who spoke were angry.
   "Our rural economy and lifestyle is under attack from urban politicians," said Randy Hillier, who spoke on behalf of the Lanark Landowners Association. "This is a rural revolution and it is just beginning," added Mr. Hillier, to healthy applause.
   But Bob McKinley, on of the founders of the Rural Council, said that while de-amalgamation definitely was the popular choice among those at the meeting, he didn't know if the Rural Council would be lobbying for separation.
   "Our first order of business is to send out a questionnaire to all rural residents and see how many others feel about remaining part of the new city."

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004