Residents of the Village of Dewberry voted this week with 72 per cent in favour of dissolving into a hamlet, being governed by the County of Vermilion River.
The vote was determining whether residents wanted to remain a village and follow sustainability initiatives laid out by the province, or to dissolve.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs will make the final decision and likely present it to cabinet during their spring session.
Dewberry’s Deputy Mayor, Cameron Stevenson, said the village and county will begin group sessions in the meantime but estimates that the final suspected transition won’t take place until later next year.
Stevenson said in his personal opinion the outcome was not ideal. However, he has served on council for the past seven and a half years, and professionally he does understand that it’s not a bad thing.
“We don’t technically have the money to operate, and I don’t want to see our infrastructure fall apart,” said Stevenson.
“With both the economy and COVID, a lot of business and people are just existing and doing what they can to operate. If big corporations can’t sustain themselves, how can they expect small rural places to be sustainable? Other communities in the province are also going through the same thing so I guess it is a sign of the times to rationalize everything.”
He said that overall after dissolution, that most things would remain pretty well the same. The tax breakdown is a little different, but he sees bigger differences being found in the utilities and bylaw enforcement.
He is hopeful that village staff and council will receive some closure throughout the coming months as they continue to tie things up, continuing to work through the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework agreement discussing wastewater treatment and such projects so they can transfer over smoothly.
Even though nothing is official yet, County of Vermilion River Reeve, Lonnie Wolgien, feels the transition will go smoothly and looks forward to receiving further direction from the province.
Throughout the transition, the county will work with the Village of Dewberry under similar conditions they use with Clandonald and Islay to ensure they remain self supporting.
“The county has always been there to support the municipalities,” said Wolgien.
“Dewberry has a very rich history and some good community things goings on that will likely remain.”