Municipal leaders from across Prince Edward Island got some good news today from Premier Wade MacLauchlan who said the province will begin discussions soon to develop a new framework to provide stable funding for municipalities.
Municipal leaders from across the Island were in Linkletter today for their annual meeting and say they welcome the news.
The Mayor of Kensington, Rowan Caseley, said when the province first changed the funding formula for municipalities back in 2008, his town saw a boost. But it didn't last and now a lack of funding is hurting the community.
"We don't have the ability to do some of the road repairs we should be doing," Caseley said. "We're doing the minimum amount to get by, we're doing patching instead of replacing. There's sidewalks, we've got no money to put in new sidewalks."
For years the Federation of Municipalities has been asking for a new, stable funding deal with the province. On Monday, MacLauchlan said talks on that will begin soon.
"We see the municipalities as key players in delivering services and good government to Islanders and as essential partners with the province," he said.
Something else municipalities want help with is growing their size, broadening their tax base to help pay for services or taking in areas that aren't part of any municipality.
Amalgamating with other communities is another option, but that would be a hard sell with local residents says Linkletter Community Chair David Linkletter.
"There's always resistance to change, whether it's good or bad. And that would be one of the biggest challenges," he said.
MacLauchlan said the province can play a role helping communities interested in what he called, not amalgamation but "regionalization."
"I think it's for leadership in the local communities to come together, to have a well-informed discussion, and to think about the future," he said.
It's not everything the Federation of Municipalities has asked for, but the group says it's a start.
Federation president Bruce MacDougall said it was good to get MacLauchlan's input.
"There's still a lot of work to be done. But it was sort of nice to see the premier put a couple of timelines on there," he said.
MacLauchlan says a new Municipalities Act, under development for years, will likely be tabled in the legislature this fall or in the spring of 2016.
He says meetings with municipal leaders to discuss a new funding agreement will begin after the upcoming sitting of the legislature.