P.E.I. rural amalgamation opposed in petition with 781 signatures
Government says some amalgamations will be necessary
Opposition leader Jamie Fox tabled a petition in the P.E.I. Legislature Thursday with 781 signatures of people opposed to a proposal in the Bedeque area to annex small surrounding communities.
- Bedeque-area amalgamation fought by locals, others urged to join
- Bedeque's amalgamation plan dismays many residents
"They're scared this government is going to force them to amalgamate when they don't want to. Are you going to force amalgamation on rural residents of P.E.I.?" Fox asked.
Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Robert Mitchell said he wants it to be a more collaborative process.
"What we've been offering to do, and what we'll continue to do, is to talk with residents of these communities to give them the full information that's available as to why the process is underway and why it will be continuing into the future," he said.
The province has said 73 municipalities on P.E.I. is too many, and several government reports suggest amalgamation.
It's a process the community of Bedeque and Area undertook itself, rather than waiting for it to happen to them.
"We did it out of survival," said Bedeque community council chair Ron Rayner, who attended Thursday's Legislative session.
"We figured we'd be absorbed if [we] didn't do ourselves. Improve our own community, that's what we're trying to do."
Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities president Bruce MacDougall is pleased with the government's willingness to facilitate talks about amalgamation.
"The process before, that was used back in '95, was sort of club them over the head and drag them out," he said.
"These municipalities were drawn up in the 1800s, around school zones ... They might have worked then but they don't work now."
MacDougall said the federation is developing a toolkit to help communities navigate the process.
Fox had suggested government hold a plebiscite on amalgamation, but there doesn't seem to be any formal structure to allow that to happen, so a toolkit might help communities get out accurate information on some of the issues.