THE VOICE fight amalgamation got louder this month

The Ottawa Sun
  Rurals press the issue                    September 19, 2004

Photo by Darren Brown, SUN

DOUG CLARK, publisher of the new rural newspaper Free Press Advocate,
opens the premier issue yesterday in North Gower


North Gower journalist's newspaper dedicated to anti-amalgamation fight

Ottawa Sun


THE VOICE for a provincewide grassroots movement to fight amalgamation got louder this month. North Gower author and journalist Doug Clark, fed up with how Ottawa's rural residents have been treated since they were amalgamated in 2000, has launched a newspaper aimed at like-minded Ontarians.

"It gives a lot of people who are angry and frustrated a way to fight back," said Clark. "It's purely grassroots."

He and others grew increasingly frustrated over the past few years with some of Ottawa's mainstream media who were suggesting how lucky rural residents have been since amalgamating with their urban neighbours.

"This is not just an issue in the small towns or the countryside.

Everyone admits that amalgamation screwed people in Nepean and Kanata worse than it did us. I hope to tell them how."

-Doug Clark, Editor, Free Press Advocate




But if the genesis of the newspaper was politically motivated, Clark says it has no agenda other than telling readers what's really happening.

"We aren't right wing and we aren't left wing," he said. "We aren't out to 'get anyone.' I'm out to get information."

Clark's initial plan was to launch in rural Ottawa.

But after a visit to Fergus, north of Guelph, almost two years ago, he realized that people in that amalgamated municipality were talking about the same issues Ottawa residents were frustrated with -- higher taxes and decreased services -- and critically analyzing the benefits of amalgamation.

When word quickly spread about the North Gower writer's idea via a network of activist community groups, his phone began to ring. And it didn't stop.

Those on the other end were promising cheques to finance his venture, while others called to offer their moral support.

"I got calls from Chatham, Flamborough and Kawartha Lakes, all telling me I had to do this provincewide," said Clark.

40,000 COPIES

So with some private financial support and money coming in from community associations, Clark launched the Free Press Advocate on Sept. 10, shipping 40,000 copies across Ontario.

"For once, we are all on the same page," said Clark.

"They have one source of information that's telling them what others aren't reporting."

Clark hopes to start publishing his paper twice a month in the new year, supported by subscribers, advertisers and "a few good friends."

He wants to expand into the suburbs and the cities, insisting that what affects rural residents will also impact them.

"This is not just an issue in the small towns or the countryside," he said.

"Everyone admits that amalgamation screwed people in Nepean and Kanata worse than it did us. I hope to tell them how."


LETTER TO THE EDITOR- Re: "Rurals press the issue"   -September 24, 2004


First issue is viewable online -FREE  (pdf file)
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