Enniskillen mayor skeptical about merger possibilities

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Enniskillen’s mayor is concerned the rural community may suffer if his municipality decides to bring Oil Springs into the fold.
On Dec. 5th, Oil Springs Council voted to ask Enniskillen to consider amalgamation talks.
Mayor Ian Veen says it is becoming increasingly difficult to find municipal staff because the small community cannot offer as high of wages as larger municipalities.
Twenty years ago, when Sarnia rejoined Lambton County, several municipalities amalgamated. At the time, there was talk that Enniskillen, Petrolia and Oil Springs should consider a merger, but it didn’t happen.
Veen says it is time to take another look. “We need to look at the pros and cons to it,” he told council, “and where we should go from there.
“After 150 odd years, maybe it’s time to go back into the fold.”
Councillor Larry Wagner agreed. “We can’t keep going the same way we are now,” he says.
The village’s acting Clerk, Brad Loosely, says while the municipality seems to be having a hard time, it is actually in good financial shape.
“Your debt capacity limit is very good for a small village,” he told council. “For a small village you are in pretty good shape.”
But Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott isn’t convinced it is a good idea. His council was to discuss the issue Dec. 12th.
Marriott remembers the inital round of amalgamations in Lambton County and says very often when a rural and small urban community united, the rural community seemed to be on the short end of the stick. “For the most part in the amalgamations that did happen between rural and small urban communities…it was never advantageous to the rural areas.”
Marriott says Enniskillen is facing financial pressures of its own including another 15 per cent cut to provincial funding this year and the daunting prospect of repairing the municipality’s bridges.
And he says Enniskillen has already spent a lot of money in Oil City. “We’re still struggling to do the things we want to do in Enniskillen…if they’re having a hard time doing infrastructure, how would we be able to do it?”
Marriott adds while there is talk of savings when municipalities merge, “all of the little savings don’t add up to the big costs.”

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