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Turner Valley, Black Diamond amalgamation inevitable say sampling of residents

“We are basically one town anyway. All the events we have are Diamond Valley.”
WW-Amalgamation Streeter BWC 2171 web
Dave Schintz speaks to OkotoksTODAY.ca/Western Wheel reporter Darlene Casten on Sept. 2.

Inevitability and some questions about the impact of amalgamation were the main responses from Turner Valley and Black Diamond residents approached by the Western Wheel a day after the Towns agreed to ask the Province to become the amalgamated Town of Diamond Valley.

If the Province approves the joint amalgamation request the Town of Diamond Valley will be incorporated on Jan. 1, 2023.

The Western Wheel approached residents on the Friendship Trail, the Sheep River Library and the Black Diamond post office to see how they felt about the possibility of the two towns becoming a single entity.

Most of the people approached said they have questions about the impact but that they supported amalgamating.

“We are basically one town anyway,” said Turner Valley resident Dave Schintz. “All the events we have are Diamond Valley.”

Schintz said property taxes changes are a concern if amalgamation goes ahead. 

Kathy Cole said as a Turner Valley resident, she is concerned about the cost of paving roads in Black Diamond but said overall she is pleased that amalgamation could move forward.

“It’s good news,” she said. “I had a feeling it was going to happen.”

If amalgamation is approved by the Province, a new seven-person Diamond Valley council will be elected in November 2022.

Leo Werkman of Black Diamond said he agrees with creating one council for both towns.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “Why have two administrations?”

In a 2007 plebiscite Black Diamond rejected amalgamation, while Turner Valley residents indicated they would support it. Over the last year, the Town went through the amalgamation process without holding a plebiscite or referendum. 

The divide between the Towns was still evident during last week’s council debates. Turner Valley council unanimously voted for amalgamation. Meanwhile, Black Diamond council was divided with Mayor Ruth Goodwin and councillors Sharon Hart, Jackie Stickel and Veronica Kloiber voting for amalgamation and councillors Ted Bain, Daryl Lalonde and Brian Marconi voted against it. Not asking residents if they supported amalgamation was a primary concern with the three opposed Black Diamond councillors. 

In response to the issue of public consultation, some residents said they were well informed and others felt another plebiscite should have been held.
Residents were also conflicted on whether a plebiscite should have been held.

Cole attended both town hall meetings.

“I found them to be very informative,” she said. “They were very upfront with information.”

Ron Poach of Turner Valley said he received information on amalgamation in the media and from the Town.

“I noticed it in the paper and I got something in the mail,” he said.

Others felt an official vote should have been held.

Black Diamond resident, Audrey Cerkvenac, said due to COVID and meetings only being online, attendance at town hall meetings were not as highly attended. 

“That’s not council’s fault, but there should have been a referendum,” she said.