Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties won­der­ing

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties out­side Sum­mer­side won­der­ing about their fu­ture as amal­ga­ma­tion talk be­gins

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

The lead­ers of the three small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that bor­der the City of Sum­mer­side are all won­der­ing if their com­mu­ni­ties have fu­tures as in­de­pen­dent en­ti­ties.

The lead­ers of the three small mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties bor­der­ing the City of Sum­mer­side are all won­der­ing if their com­mu­ni­ties have fu­tures as in­de­pen­dent en­ti­ties.

Re­cent com­ments from Sum­mer­side Mayor Bill Martin, in­di­cate the city is ex­plor­ing the prospect of amal­ga­ma­tion with some of its neigh­bours.

Martin re­cently told TC Me­dia that “look­ing at the rel­a­tive mer­its of ex­pand­ing our bound­aries and do­ing it in a non-hos­tile way,” was one of his goals for 2016.

His com­ments have started a con­ver­sa­tion in the three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties next to the city - Miscouche, Lin­klet­ter and Sher­brooke.

David Lin­klet­ter, chair­man of Lin­klet­ter, said that while his com­mu­nity has had no for­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Sum­mer­side about a po­ten­tial amal­ga­ma­tion, the sub­ject be­ing brought up does not sur­prise him.

Ever since the City of Sum­mer­side was cre­ated via the forced in­cor­po­ra­tion of the Town of Sum­mer­side with St. Eleanors, Wil­mot and about 80 per cent of Sher­brooke, Lin­klet­ter said he’s sus­pected his mostly ru­ral com­mu­nity would some­day, some­how, be brought into the fold.

“I knew it would sur­face sooner or later, no ques­tion about that. But there’s been cer­tainly no move­ment on our part to even con­sider start­ing talk with Sum­mer­side. Not say­ing we won’t lis­ten to them,” he said.

That sen­ti­ment was re­flected by the chair­men of Sher­brooke and Miscouche.

Ron Chap­pell, of Sher­brooke, said his coun­cil hasn’t yet dis­cussed the prospect of an amal­ga­ma­tion with Sum­mer­side, but it will likely come up at their next monthly meet­ing.

“I don’t think it would be some­thing we’d be real crazy about,” he said.

The sit­u­a­tion is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent in Miscouche where chair­man Peter Mal­lett said his coun­cil has been dis­cussing amal­ga­ma­tion in gen­eral terms since Premier Wade MacLauch­lan made cer­tain com­ments at the 2015 meet­ing of the P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

MacLauch­lan said at the time that one of his pri­or­i­ties was to im­ple­ment aspects of the Thomp­son Re­port, which called for the re­duc­tion of the prov­ince’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from more than 70 down to about 20.

Mal­lett said coun­cil has dis­cussed the prospect of join­ing Sum­mer­side as well as strik­ing out on its own by bring­ing neig­bour­ing un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties like St. Ni­cholas, Bel­mont, Cen­tral Lot 16 and South West Lot 16 un­der its mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Mal­lett and three other coun­cil­lors met with Martin re­cently, he added, to dis­cuss what the two com­mu­ni­ties might have to of­fer each other. The con­ver­sa­tion was very pre­lim­i­nary, he said.

“A lot of our coun­cil­lors are hear­ing from the peo­ple that they don’t want to join Sum­mer­side. ‘Leave us alone,’ type of thing. But we know in the big scheme of things that likely won’t hap­pen. The govern­ment has said they want to go from 70 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties down to 20 some. So be­fore too long it’s go­ing to hap­pen, maybe not in my term, but some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen sooner or later,” he said.

As in­cor­po­rated mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Miscouche, Lin­klet­ter and Sher­brooke can­not be ar­bi­trar­ily an­nexed by the larger City of Sum­mer­side.

Pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion states both com­mu­nity coun­cils must pass res­o­lu­tions sup­port­ing an amal­ga­ma­tion, af­ter con­sult­ing the res­i­dents.

How­ever, un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties, like Trav­ellers Rest or North Bedeque don’t have for­mal com­mu­nity coun­cils and can be an­nexed by nearby mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties if proper pro­ce­dure is fol­lowed. The pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture also has ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers over mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and can forcibly in­cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ties, which is what hap­pened when the City of Sum­mer­side was cre­ated.

The prov­ince has stated that it wants all P.E.I. mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to have pop­u­la­tions of at least 4,000 and a tax base of about $200 mil­lion in as­sessed real es­tate prop­erty value and be able to pro­vide fire ser­vice.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment has stated that while it wants fewer mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince, it is not cur­rently will­ing to force the is­sue, but has not closed the door on that prospect some­time in the fu­ture.

COLIN MA­CLEAN/TC ME­DIA

Chair­man Peter Mal­lett of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Miscouche stands out­side his com­mu­nity’s fire sta­tion. Mal­lett’s coun­cil has been dis­cussing its op­tions in terms of amal­ga­ma­tion for sev­eral months. Nearby Sum­mer­side has also been dis­cussing its op­tions with the smaller com­mu­nity.

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