Municipalities outside Summerside mull futures under amalgamation

Colin MacLean
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Route 2 during the afternoon commute going through Miscouche. The small community outside Summerside is trying to figure out its future as an independent municipality.

Miscouche, Linkletter and Sherbrooke all say they have not heard from Summerside, but move is no surprise

The chairmen of the three small municipalities that border the City of Summerside are all wondering if their communities have futures as independent entities.

Recent comments from Summerside Mayor Bill Martin indicate the city is exploring the prospect  of amalgamation with some of its neighbours.

Martin recently told the Journal Pioneer that “looking at the relative merits of expanding our boundaries and doing it in a non-hostile way,” was one of his goals for 2016.

His comments have started a conversation in the three municipalities next to the city; Miscouche, Linkletter and Sherbrooke.

David Linkletter, chairman of Linkletter, said that while his community has had no formal communication with Summerside about a potential amalgamation, the subject being brought up does not surprise him.

Ever since the City of Summerside was created via the forced incorporation of the Town of Summerside with St. Eleanors, Wilmot and about 80 per cent of Sherbrooke, Linkletter said he’s suspected his mostly rural community would someday, somehow, be brought into the fold.

“I knew it would surface sooner or later, no question about that. But there’s been certainly no movement on our part to even consider starting talk with Summerside. Not saying we won’t listen to them,” he said.

That sentiment was reflected by the chairmen of Sherbrooke and Miscouche when contacted by the Journal Pioneer.

Ron Chappell, of Sherbrooke, said his council hasn’t yet discussed the prospect of an amalgamation with Summerside, but it will likely come up at their next monthly meeting.

“I don’t think it would be something we’d be real crazy about,” he said.

The situation is a little different in Miscouche where Chairman Peter Mallett said his council has been discussing amalgamation in general terms since Premier Wade MacLauchlan made certain comments at the 2015 meeting of the P.E.I. Federation of Municipalities.  MacLauchlan said at the time that one of his priorities was to implement aspects of the Thompson Report, which called for the reduction of the province’s municipalities from more than 70 down to about 20.

Mallett said council has discussed the prospect of joining Summerside as well as striking out on its own by bringing neigbouring unincorporated communities like St. Nicholas, Belmont, Central Lot 16 and South West Lot 16 under its municipality.

Mallett and three other councillors met with Martin recently, he added, to discuss what the two communities might have to offer each other. The conversation was very preliminary, he said.

“A lot of our councillors are hearing from the people that they don’t want to join Summerside. ‘Leave us alone,’ type of thing. But we know in the big scheme of things – that likely won’t happen. The government has said they want to go from 70 municipalities down to 20 some. So before too long it’s going to happen, maybe not in my term, but something is going to happen sooner or later,” he said.

As incorporated municipalities Miscouche, Linkletter and Sherbrooke cannot be arbitrarily annexed by the larger City of Summerside. Provincial legislation states that both community councils must pass resolutions supporting an amalgamation, after consulting the residents. However, unincorporated communities, like Travellers Rest or North Bedeque don’t have formal community councils and can be annexed by nearby municipalities if proper procedure is followed. The provincial legislature also has executive powers over municipalities and can forcibly incorporate communities, which is what happened when the City of Summerside was created.

The province has stated that it wants all P.E.I. municipalities to have populations of at least 4,000 and a tax base of about $200 million in assessed real estate property value and be able to provide fire service.

The provincial government has stated that while it wants fewer municipalities it is not currently willing to force the issue, but it has not closed the door on that prospect sometime in the future.



Organizations: Journal Pioneer, P.E.I. Federation of Municipalities

Geographic location: Summerside, Miscouche, Travellers Rest P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • amalgamate the counties
    January 11, 2016 - 07:35

    The provincial government needs to stop dilly-dallying on municipal reform and grow a pair. PEI does not need any more than 3 municipalities. The Regional Municipality of Prince (pop. 44,348), the Regional Municipality of Queens (pop. 77,866), and the Regional Municipality of Kings (pop. 17,990). Any more than 3 is a complete and utter waste of the time, money, and intelligence of Islanders by this government. Mr. MacLauchlan, just make county government a reality and dissolve all existing municipalities.

  • Islander
    January 10, 2016 - 16:16

    I am reading with interest about Summerside pusuing and interest in amalgamation. Our current Mayor Martin brags about sixty new business locations. Would you please advise us of the locations and what they are, plus how many new jobs have been created. Personally, I think this is just smoke and mirrors. If it was anything truthful it would be a front page story. Stop the BS, we in Summerside are in serious trouble with new jobs and industry.. The City is top heavy with management positions and the front line workers who do it all are running with a continued shortage. Just review the overtime budget for employees off sick, than ask the question. Why is this happening? All the so called big shots up at City Hall running in circles. Very quiet bunch. We all know why to, like I said , Summerside is in big time trouble.

  • Outside Summerside
    January 09, 2016 - 15:03

    Thanks but no thanks Summerside. After spending $3 million on trying to frame your past Deputy Chief. Him beating you is still a burr in you saddle. Than the Concert Fiasco, another $3 million, it goes on and one. The last management left Summerside with a debt of 100 millions. This is a great opportunity for Miscouche to lead this amalgamation of Miscouche, Linkletter, St Nichols etc. Stay out of Summerside. You will regret it. Summerside is sinking bad and now they want someone to pick up the pieces

  • Summerside Resident
    January 08, 2016 - 20:48

    Amalgamation of Summerside, St Eleanors, Wilmot and Sherbrooke has only taxed them to death. Just look at the mess Summerside did of mismanagement under the leadership of our last Mayor and CAO. Millions of dollars wasted on lawsuits, Concerts, Lawyers, all over a power struggle. My suggestion to these beautiful communities is to stay as far away from Summerside as possible . Summerside talks like they are a big City the size of Montreal. They do not live within their means. They just borrow over and over. Look at the downtown, its a ghost town, youg people have to move away, no jobs and here we are into multi money project with a very dim future. A majoority of people moved from Summerside to Miscouche to rid themselves of all the high taxes and wasteful spending. You cannot trust the Government with our money. One just has to look at the PNP and Egaming as two examples, not to mention the millions in loan write offs. Disgraceful management. If any business was run like Summerside they would be bankrupt within a year. If you are considering amalgamation take in your own communities and leave Summerside in the mess they created. Bill Martin is gone in less than three years. What does that tell anyone one about a vision. He is a big disappointment