Robert Mitchell says no forced amalgamation in P.E.I. for now

Colin MacLean
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Robert Mitchell

BEDEQUE - The unincorporated communities of Prince Edward Island do not have to fear being forcibly merged into larger municipalities for now.

Robert Mitchell, minister of the new Department of Communities, Land and Environment, said Tuesday that, for the moment, the provincial government is content to let the more than 70 municipalities on P.E.I. work amongst themselves to sort out any annexation or amalgamation plans they might have.

“We’re letting the process unfold the way it should, with communities talking to communities,” said Mitchell.

“The bottom up, the local approach, that’s where you’re going to have the most successes and we certainly encourage those to take place across P.E.I.,” he added.

However, when asked if the province would consider stepping in at some point and implementing the 2010 Thompson Report on Land Use and Local Governance, Mitchell didn’t rule out the option and reiterated the government’s support for the goals outlined in that document.

“All of us in government have endorsed the Thompson report. We understand, as judge Thompson stated in that report, that 74 municipalities on Prince Edward Island is just not sustainable and we need bigger, more sustainable communities with stronger voices,” said Mitchell.

RELATED: Bedeque and Area passes motion to annex surrounding communities

The Thompson report, compiled by the late judge Ralph Thompson, called for larger municipalities on P.E.I. with populations of several thousand and a $200 million tax assessment base.

Only then could they be financially viable into the future, it stated.

That criteria is what the municipality of Bedeque and Area is using in its bid to annex several of its surrounding unincorporated communities.

Its council passed a motion Monday night to submit that request to Mitchell’s office.

Bedeque and Area’s move seems to have sparked a renewed interest in the Thompson report by Island communities.

Mitchell said there are “several” municipalities on the Island who have been in touch with his office, requesting information about annexation and amalgamation.

Prior to last spring’s provincial election, then premier Robert Ghiz said unequivocally that he would not force the implementation of the Thompson report recommendations.

However, with the election of Premier Wade MacLauchlan he has promised to implement a new Municipalities Act by sometime next year and he created a new department to deal with municipalities and gave it a mandate to implement the Thompson report though it appears the question of how that implementation will materialize remains open ended.

Organizations: Robert Mitchell, The Thompson

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, BEDEQUE

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Recent comments

  • Farm woman
    September 17, 2015 - 11:31

    This is awful. The Government encouraging this kind of friction between rural neighbors. I guess Mr. Mitchell is not used to rural living, where we try to get along peacefully. I hope he and his colleagues, including the Premier will thrive to consider fairness to all Islanders a virtue worth following when making any decisions.

    September 17, 2015 - 11:02

    The only people that gain from these amalgamations is the tax processors. Your property taxes skyrocket out of sight and you get no more, sometimes less then you had before. The ONLY reason is MORE TAXES. The people in the smaller communities being absorbed get NOTHING but empty wallets.

      September 17, 2015 - 15:53

      One Sided...Can you please give an example of taxes "skyrocketing" due to amalgamation? As I have said in other posts, unincorporated areas have been getting a free ride to all the amenities that incorporated areas provide. I think it is only fair to start to pay a little of your own way.Tell me, where do you find your health care,arenas, sports venues,grocery stores dining , schools, churches, post office and the list goes on. In everything I have read, I have never seen or heard of anyone advocating that rural homeowners should pay the same amount of taxes as the incorporated areas. One other thing, who supplies you with fire protection? Do these unincorporated areas have their own fire dept? I thought not. Ever priced a modern day pumper truck? The free ride will soon be over so you better get over it. Judging by the response here (8 responses), it can't be that much of an issue. If the Conservatives tried to revamp the EI system, you would literally have more than 100 people responding.

    • Anthony
      September 18, 2015 - 07:49

      @ UPWESTER, you my friend are a blind sheep following the tail of the next blind sheep in your line. I live in a rural area of PEI and pay tax out the a$$. I can't see what your argument is here because grocery stores, and restaurants/dining are private businesses and have nothing to do with incorporated or not. Churches are run on community collections and fund raisers not government tax dollars. As far as fire protection goes it should be on a pay for use not the current too bad for you because it's on your taxes like it or not. Arenas and sports complexes shouldn't be included in your speal either as they should be paid for once again by the users of the arenas and sports complexes and not the taxpayer coffers. No one in my household uses them so why pay for it.... As for the post office, I don't use it because of a thing called e-mail and couriers. School and healthcare are supposed to be covered by the taxes collected from purchases made so it doesn't matter who you are or where you live you're paying it anyway. I know that I'm already paying far too much property taxes for the bit of snow removal we get in the winter months, absolutely no road maintenance what so ever and we can't even get the trees cut in the ditches so please keep your incorporation to yourself. People choose to live in the country to stay as far away from this type of foolishness as possible for a good reason. You might need the government to run every aspect of your life but I sure as hell don't .

  • Rural taxpayer
    September 17, 2015 - 10:59

    " No forced amalgamation for NOW, eh? If not now, then WHEN will his government force us ??? Nice sentiment, - who came up with that one, the star deputy or his star assistant deputy? (talk about Our soft peddling Premier better take charge here, people will not stand for this kind of high handed threat.

  • Farmer
    September 17, 2015 - 10:51

    Is that what your deputy told you to say, Mr. Mitchell?? A threat that if we don't go along now, - you will come after is later---. The only reason behind this move is to steal more taxes, and job creation in the administrations to fill with liberal friends. Come on people don't let us stand for this government manipulation of our lives. Thank you NFU for taking on this invasion of our rights. Call a meeting and let us get a campaign going, enough is enough.

  • Rural fool
    September 17, 2015 - 10:45

    The Minster states that "FOR NOW'' the Government is satisfied to let the rural communities fight it out for themselves. What a noble statement, Mr. Minister. Of course you are a City slicker, so that would make sense to you. Mr. MacLaughlan, if he is worth his salt, should re-visit this whole process. To render whole communities helpless pawns in the quest by smaller towns for more tax money is down right unfair and smacks of dictatorship, not democracy. Mind you, governments with their reliance on bureaucrats and with mindless elected representatives, who think their sole purpose is to haul in an unreasonable amount of salaries and pension, this is not surprising. So find your guts, you rural MLAs and stand up for the people that elected you.

  • landowner
    September 17, 2015 - 10:33

    Sure blame it on the "dead man" ----- The fact is that "Minister" Mitchell is a spokes person for Deputy McLean, and this whole thing is a bureaucratic initiative to squeeze more money out of people in taxes. The current ministers are prisoners of the old gang of deputies that MacLauchlan kept on, because he knew he and the elected members do not have a clue, and the old deputies had a wonderful record behind them from the Ghiz years of lies and deceit. -

  • Why
    September 17, 2015 - 09:11

    Why in the hell can't they leave us alone . We don't need another layer of want a be politicians wanting to run others lives & get paid for doing so . Montague is a prefect example when you look at the stat's. posted in this paper just a few day's ago . Who; that has saved & purchased a property would want their rights stepped on the way it's been done in Montague . My suggestion is cut your spending - start looking out for the residents that built the town & behave like a town like you are & stop trying to be a City. That has always been a problem in Montague , just not satisfied being a town & not a city like Charlottetown .

  • Buzz Off, Bedeque
    September 17, 2015 - 07:37

    The premier and his cabinet should take note of how strongly that rural Islanders oppose forced amalgamation. It's exactly the issue that could turn large parts of the province into a barren wasteland for Liberal candidates seeking votes in future elections.