Second City, Second Metro: Cumberland Council Seeks Divorce From Prescott and Russell

Cumberland Township’s Council looked over the border to Gloucester and wanted a new relationship. Image: Excerpt from Archives of Ontario, RG 1-100-0-0-417 Map #10.

Had nearly all the other voices in Cumberland Township not been enough to drive the point home that alignment with Carleton County, rather than remaining with Prescott and Russell, was what was wanted, then the voice of Cumberland Township’s Council might have been what was needed to seal the deal.

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The township, a rapidly growing suburban municipality aligned with the Cities of Ottawa and Eastview, is inefficiently and senselessly united with the antiquated, pre-Confederation form of government of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell. The following factors effect the urbanization of the township:
a) It is within easy commuting distance of Ottawa where the
majority of residents who are not self-employed, work.
b) Driving conditions and roads are favourable; a new four-lane
highway from Cornwall to Montreal will bisect the township.
c) There are large flat areas of land suitable for residential
development with rock not too close to the surface.
d) Just east of the Greenbelt limits, the township is one of last
largely undeveloped areas close to Ottawa.
e) A subdivision development has located in the northwest corner
of the township. A good water supply was located and a water
system installed.
f) The township has a 10-year contract with Ottawa and Eastview
for Secondary Education which makes it difficult to consider
remaining part of the United Counties.

In the matter of County health services, this township of 6,000 persons is a forgotten municipality with not one health clinic per annum. Hawkesbury with 9,000 persons has two clinics per month.

County roads are a source of constant irritation. They are built and repaired without the engineering knowledge and techniques that ensure permanent roads. Township roads, on the other hand, are steadily improving, but public demand is increasing

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township road and bridge expenditures which result in higher taxes.

The Ottawa Suburban Roads Commission evidently has considerable financial resources ($1,212,000. according to the District Engineer) compared to Russell County and in particular, Cumberland Township. This is further aggravated by the unjust distribution of United County road funds and the fact that no allowance is made for through traffic on County roads to Ottawa and Eastview. For over 30 years, Cumberland Reeves have stated that voting in the United Counties Council is weighted against the township due to the many small municipalities in the eastern part of Prescott and Russell.

The township shares on County grader with Clarence Township, which permits infrequent use; one foreman is expected to serve all of Russell County and the County garage at Sarsfield has no phone. The township gravel pits while providing cheap gravel for township roads are causing additional road expense due to the heavy loads being taken outside the township. Township and county roads also carry extensive Federal District traffic and heavy bulk-milk, oil and fuel trucks from Ottawa and Eastview. The one medical doctor and one veterinary surgeon risk their lives to answer emergency calls on these roads, and the township is dependent on them for access to Ottawa and Eastview, the social, educational, industrial, legal and medical centres of township life. Moreover, better County roads would help to attract industry.

The County Home for the Aged, 40 miles to the east of the township at L'Orignal, the County sear, is less accessible than similar institutions in Ottawa; the location of Magistrate's Court at Rockland is equally inaccessible.

The lack of income in the primary township industry of dairy farming is forcing many farmers out of business to seek employment in the nearby cities.

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In 1931, the township had no resources, a $24,000. deficit and few assets. Today, there is a reserve of $71,300., a $5,000. surplus, debenture liabilities of only $63,000. (much less than in 1932) and many assets including 2 graders, 3 trucks with plows, a Community Hall, a garage (which will soon require enlargement) and a new township office and Council Assembly Hall. Taxable assessment is over 4½ million. It would appear that properties in the United Counties are assessed higher than those in Gloucester Township, and according to 1964 tax bills it would appear that this township might benefit by a lower County rate and reduction in taxes if it were part of Carleton County.

All available projections point to the township's rapid growth as a suburban residential and industrial municipality in the Ottawa orbit. Dependent on Ottawa and Eastview for practically all facilities and services, it provides these municipalities with a source of labour.

Urbanization will entail large expenditures on education, police, fire, water, sewer services, etc. and the need to adjust the functions and territory of local government. It is high time to divorce this municipality from an antiquated County government and join it with the progressive municipalities to the west.



The submission was presented by Mr. Nelson Charlobois, Reeve, Mr. R. J. Kennedy, Township Clerk and Mr. John Nelligan, Township Solicitor.

With respect to the urban development in the north west portion of the township it was stated that:
a) The initial plan is for 5,000 persons ultimately; 500 persons
or 125 families are there now. Developers have purchased land a

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mile to the east of the present development.
b) The township has no financial responsibility at present for sewer
installation or water supply; this is secured by letter of credit
with the subdivider. The Township assumes all maintenance costs,
c) The Gloucester-Cumberland Townships' agreement concerning the
proposed sewage disposal plant is awaiting Ontario Municipal
Board approval. The townships have passed preliminary by-laws
and the Ontario Water Resources Commission has given unofficial
approval. The plant will have a capacity for 8,000 persons
(3,000 in Gloucester and 5,000 in Cumberland) and has been
designed for later expansion, if necessary. Optimum size trunk
mains are planned to serve an expanded plant with one trunk
from Cumberland and another from the Gloucester area.
d) The whole urbanized area would be unlikely to form a sep-
arate municipal entity for a number of years, and then only
if the usual urban/rural problems caused dissatisfaction or
if they wanted a vote on Council.
e) Problems may arise from spreading school costs for this area
across the township.

On the subject of roads, the following opinions were stated:
1) Good roads are required for Ottawa workers' transportation. As
worker resident areas expand, it should be the responsibility
of Suburban Roads Commission to expand their system to these
areas. Requests to Provincial authorities that Suburban Roads
Commissions be permitted to disregard county boundaries, have
not found support however and being outside Carleton County,
Cumberland roads, while serving the Ottawa area, receive no
benefit from Ottawa contributions to the Suburban Roads
Commission program; with no City in the United Counties, there
is no suburban road system there. If included in the Carleton
County suburban road system, it is felt that capital construction
costs for some period

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should be devoted to raising the standard of Cumberland road
system; it is difficult to predict what problems, if any,
might be encountered, as there is no previous example of a
township joining another county.
2) 55% Provincial grants are provided for Cumberland Township
roads. County roads may present a problem due to necessary
grant adjustment between counties. By pooling of assets, any
compensation paid between the Counties might take into
account the present poor County roads in Cumberland.
3) Many township problems would be alleviated if the Prescott
and Russell County Roads Commission adhered to the Roads Needs
Study just completed.

Other points discussed were:
a) Of 26 County Council votes, 16 go to Prescott County and 10 to
Russell County; of the latter, the township has 3. Prescott
communities are generally smaller than Russell communities, yet
have a vote.
b) There are 6 or 7 High School Districts in the County; the
Department of Education would prefer to see 2, one at Hawkesbury
and one at Plantagenet, but this would mean transporting 260
Rockland students 15 miles a day. There have been suggestions
that Cumberland use Rockland High School, but the township
prefers its present arrangements.
c) There is no move toward consolidation of smaller County
municipalities; the opposite appear to be true.
d) The farm economy appears to have reached the breaking point
with respect to taxation.
e) The present debenture debt of $63,000. is decreasing with the
next anticipated issue to be for a public school in the north
west area.
f) The problem of unpaid taxes, representing 1/3 of the total tax
roll, is being handled now that staff has increased.