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20 years ago, a new city was born


the amalgamations,” he said. “It was sold as that we would save money – having one administrator now instead of two, for ex- ample – but Rockland has grown so much since 1998 that that is not the case.” Despite certain worries, however, the consensus at the time was that amalgama- tion would bring communities together. “Clarence people shop in Rockland […] we play hockey against each other, we’ve known each other for a long time,” Richard Lalonde, a Rockland councillor before the merger, told Vision in May 1997. “It’s a natural amalgamation.” Madhu Batt, a Rockland resident who at the time was the president of Crystal Chrysler, ex- pressed similar feelings, as was reported in the Vision . “It’s a wider range of people under the one umbrella,” he said. “It will make it much easier to bring the community together.” To be followed next week.

It has been 20 years since the Township of Clarence and the City of Rockland amal- gamated and became the City of Clarence- Rockland. On January 1, 1998, both the Town- ship of Clarence and the City of Rockland were officially dissolved and the new City of Clarence-Rockland was born. Clarence and Rockland were not the only ones. The then Progressive Conservative government of Ontario, under Premier Mike Harris, had signed anOrder the year before reducing the number of municipalities in the province from 840 to 350. As part of the “Common Sense Revolu- tion,” the purpose of these amalgamations was justified as cost-efficient. At the time, large provincial cuts to support funding of municipalities made it inevitable: smaller municipalities would have no longer sur- vived on their own. Some 70 per cent of municipalities across the province had a population of 5000 people or less. The ar- gument was that it just made sense to fuse most of those together. Jean-Marc Lalonde, who is now a Rock- land city councillor but was the Liberal MPP of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in 1998, was in favor of the amalgamation. He saw short- and long-term advantages, which mostly included financial benefits. He also believed the amalgamationwould facilitate theman- agement of the City. Lalonde stands by those

Le 1 er janvier 1998, le canton de Clarence et la Ville de Rockland ont été officiellement dissous et la nouvelle Cité de Clarence-Rockland est née. Ci-dessus, on reconnait le dernier conseil municipal de la ville de Rockland avant la fusion. De gauche à droite, le maire Jean-Pierre Pierre, le préfet Bernard Payer, le conseiller Daniel Lagrois, la conseillère Francine Mault et les conseillers Richard Lalonde, Yvon Mayer et Sylvain Myre. —photo fournie

beliefs even now, 20 years later, but is aware of flaws in the system. “The divisions of themunicipalities were badly decided,” said Lalonde. Lalonde cites the example of villages in Clarence-Rock- land, such as Hammond and Bourget, that do not have their own gas stations or conve- nience stores and need to go to Rockland for those services. “In Clarence-Rockland, you often hear people complain that everything is in Rockland and nothing is in the rest of the villages.” Jean-Guy Giroux, a councillor for the Township of Clarence at the time of the amalgamation expressed exactly this: “There is a definite worry that Rockland will take

control of the whole municipality,” as was reported in the May 6, 1997 issue of the Vi- sion newspaper. According to Lalonde, bad subdivisions are not the only problem. “I would not say there have been economical savings with

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