Number of P.E.I. municipalities ‘crazy’
Most community councillors acclaimed in Monday’s election
There are too many small municipalities on P.E.I., says the president of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities, and the problems that cause showed up on election night this week.
Municipal elections were held in 72 communities Monday night. In 46 of those, every community representative was acclaimed to office. Fewer than 10 municipalities had races for the top job of mayor or community chair.
Bruce MacDougall, president of the Federation, said communities on the Island need to amalgamate.
“We’ve got more municipalities than they do in Nova Scotia,” said MacDougall.
“It's crazy. We have to have larger municipalities, fewer municipalities.”
Kevin Kadey, who has been council chair of the village of Tyne Valley for 12 years, agrees. He has never once faced an election, and neither have any of the councillors he has served with during his tenure. All have been acclaimed.
Kadey said over the years, that lack of competition has an effect.
"In order for the area to sustain itself, it definitely needs that influx of new ideas and younger people getting involved," he said.
Tyne Valley has discussed the idea of amalgamating with its neighbours, but hasn't received a favourable response, said Kadey.
Over the last decade, successive government reports have concluded that having fewer and larger Island municipalities would lead to more sustainable local government, and ease pressure on finances and people.
MacDougall said more communities would consider amalgamation if the province would sign a new revenue-sharing agreement with municipalities, negotiations for that have been going on for years.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Wes Sheridan agrees a new contract might encourage more amalgamations, but he points out that some communities have been taking the first steps on their own.
He points to the communities of Bedeque and Central Bedeque, which held their first combined election this week, with their amalgamation set to become official on Nov. 17 when the combined council is sworn in.
“These communities saw an opportunity to increase their population and enhance their financial standing by combining resources,” Sheridan said in a news release.
Sheridan predicted more communities will come together in the near future.
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