The Mercury has a learned that a plebiscite will be held to determine the future of Roche Percee.
In an interview Friday, Mayor Reg Jahn said that a vote will be held in the near future to decide whether or not the village should move ahead on a land swap proposal that is currently in the negotiation stages with the provincial government.
“A lot of people said that there wasn’t enough information to make an informed decision,” Jahn said. “We had very little information available. We have a citizens group that calls themselves the Grey Committee because they are dealing with the grey areas of how this land swap will work and the grey area of the new subdivision.
“So we’ll put together a package and then there will be a plebiscite so they can decide what they want and which way they want to go.”
The plebiscite is the latest chapter in the ongoing story of Roche Percee’s recovery. After little to no action for months, a meeting was held earlier this month in the village to inform residents that the Commonwealth Group, which was hired by Roche Percee to assist with the recovery, was working on a land swap deal.
Under the terms of the pact, landowners who lost their homes in last year’s flood would be offered a parcel of land in a new subdivision, which would be built on the village’s south hill, out of the flood plain. It was also announced that a decision must be made by May 15.
Since that initial meeting, the Village and Commonwealth had been apparently continuing to work on the deal and it was expected that a proposal would be submitted to the provincial government by the deadline.
However, Jahn said there was a feeling that the timeline was too tight to make such a big decision. He added there was also a feeling among village residents that they weren’t receiving all of the information they needed.
“People get paranoid that you are trying to slip something by them,” said Jahn who added he hoped the plebiscite would happen as soon as possible. “And everybody should be suspicious of everything. I am suspicious of everything and so should everybody else be. Everyone has the right to make an informed decision and that is what we’ve tried our best to do.”
Jahn said some residents have already expressed interest in rebuilding in a new subdivision but there were also some who were very hesitant. He also noted that others who have already moved on and rebuilt their lives elsewhere, but are still eligible for the land swap should it go ahead, also have some reservations.
“This is kind of hard for me to swallow. (Residents) feel better going to other citizens than to us as a council. I always thought we, as a council, were very approachable. But everybody has been through a lot and you gotta blame somebody.
“All things aside, we have to work for the best of Roche Percee, especially those that wish to stay. And for those that have moved on, they still have to be compensated for their property.”