P.E.I. government rejects Bedeque amalgamation proposal

Colin MacLean
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The Municipality of Bedeque and Area’s effort to annex several adjacent unincorporated communities has been put on hold by the provincial government.

In a letter dated Dec. 2, Communities Minister Robert Mitchell thanked Bedeque and Area’s council for its efforts, but said its current proposal does not meet the baseline requirements government now envisions for new municipalities.

In the same letter Mitchell encourages the council to seek “additional co-operation” with neighbouring municipalities.

“It’s been put in a hold pattern,” said Mitchell, regarding the municipality’s current proposal.

“I think (Bedeque and Area council is) willing to take a step back and look at something even bigger, something that, first of all, will give them a very very strong local voice with government, could bode well for some local economic development and enhance their area overall,” added Mitchell.  

RELATED: Group opposing Bedeque amalgamation holds meeting in Freetown

The province has stated recently that it wants municipalities to have a minimum population of 4,000 and contain a minimum of $200 million in assessed real estate property value.

Despite taking in a large geographic area of East Prince, Bedeque’s current proposal does not meet those requirements.  

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission confirmed on Friday that it has received no Bedeque-related requests from the provincial government.

Earlier this year the Municipality of Bedeque and Area started the process of expanding its borders through annexation.

It held several public meetings on its plan, sent out a mass mail-out and passed a resolution of council, which was then sent to Department of Communities, Land and Environment.

RELATED: Report on eastern P.E.I. amalgamation released

The next step in the process was supposed to be the minister passing the request off to IRAC, which would have held public meetings on the proposal before making a recommendation to cabinet, which has the final say on the matter.

The annexation plan has raised concerns not only in the unincorporated areas affected, which have limited say in the matter, but also in the two other municipalities in the region: The Municipality of Kinkora and The Town of Borden-Carleton.   

The three municipalities mentioned and Mitchell held a meeting in September and one of the things they talked about was an alternative to Bedeque’s effort: creating a regional municipality using the borders of the District 19 legislative ridding, which encompasses all three municipalities, as a tentative outline.

It was to this proposal that Mitchell referred to in his letter to Bedeque’s council, encouraging them to work with their neighbours.

The three municipal councils have said in the past that they would be open to talking about forming one large regional municipality, but that due diligence and public consultations would be paramount.

Borden-Carleton’s council passed a resolution at its October meeting directing staff to request funding from Mitchell’s department for a feasibility study of a regional municipality.

As of Monday night the town had not received a response from that request.

In September, Kinkora’s council directed an independent development officer to research its own options for expansion, including the regional municipality idea.

Ron Rayner, chairman of the Municipality of Bedeque and Area, said Friday that his council has decided not to withdraw their current proposal to government, stating that too much time and effort has already been invested just to scrap it.

But he added that they remain open to working with Borden-Carleton and Kinkora while they wait for Mitchell to do something with their proposal or for regional amalgamation to proceed.

“We’re basically sitting on it,” said Rayner.

“We’re just going to wait until government or the other municipalities decide where they’re going to go.”

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

Twitter.com/JournalPMacLean

Organizations: Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission, Department of Communities

Geographic location: Kinkora, Borden-Carleton, Freetown East Prince Eastern P.E.I.

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