Eastern P.E.I. community amalgamation aims to strengthen rural voice
Report on potential amalgamation was released Wednesday
A new report about the potential of amalgamating seven eastern P.E.I. communities suggests an amalgamated community could have more influence on the provincial government.
The report, commissioned a year ago and released Wednesday, was written by Phil Woods and Associates and Derek French. It looks at a possible amalgamation of Brudenell, Cardigan, Georgetown, Lorne Valley, Lower Montague, Montague and Valleyfield.
The new community would have a population of 7,744, making it the fourth-largest community on P.E.I., behind Charlottetown, Summerside and Stratford.
"It is going to give us more of a voice I think when we're talking to the province and the federal government for funding and that, I think it's going to give us a better voice. I think communities are going to have to work together and try to combine services and things," said Georgetown Mayor Lewis Lavandier.
"Anything that is going to benefit the rural communities of P.E.I., we have to look at it and see if it's going to be a help for us. And it may not work out in the end but we as community leaders have to explore all our options."
The report also describes what the authors see as other advantages of amalgamation.
Land use protection
Currently residents of unincorporated areas have few land use bylaws to control what is built next to their property. As an example, the authors note there would be nothing to stop a recycling plant going up next to a home or farm.
There are a lot of recreational facilities in the seven communities, but a lack of overall direction, which the authors say leads to a lack of services for youth and seniors.
An amalgamated community should be able to afford a recreational director to oversee all the facilities in the area.
An amalgamated community could better promote itself to prospective investors, the authors say.
The creation of a regional land use plan is something investors would want to see, and that could only be created by an amalgamated community.
The authors believe a new region would be able to establish its own police force or get more officers from RCMP in place.
Taxes down for some
The report also addressed areas of concern such as taxation. The authors calculate few residents would see an increase in taxes, and some would see taxes go down.
They recommend a tiered system, so residents would not be paying for services they do not have, such as sidewalks.
In a joint news release, community councils said they are viewing the report as a working document and no decisions have been made. They will be holding public consultations in the new year.