Amalgamation could be on agenda for Summerside this year

Nancy MacPhee nmacphee@journalpioneer.com
Published on January 6, 2016

Summerside City Hall

©Amber Nicholson/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE - The City of Summerside may look to grow in 2016.

Summerside Mayor Bill Martin said amalgamation is something that could be on the agenda for the coming year.

One of his goals is "looking at the relative merits of expanding our boundaries and doing it in a non-hostile way."

Amalgamation, or annexation, is currently a hot topic in the province, with Montague looking to expand, bringing in neighbouring communities, as well as Bedeque wanting to grow, applying to the province to annex a number of surrounding communities.

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"No," was the answer Martin gave when asked if Summerside, currently roughly 28 square kilometres in size and a population of about 15,000, was looking at annexing any of these communities.

Slemon Park is also off the table, he added.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan made remarks in 2015 at the Federation of Municipalities annual general meeting that "regionalization" of smaller unincorporated municipalities would be a priority, particularly with a revamped Municipalities Act expected in 2016.

Widespread proposed amalgamation was set out in a 2010 report on the issue, penned by the late provincial court judge, Ralph C. Thompson.

That report recommended sweeping changes to the borders of the province's smaller communities, cutting the current 73 municipalities down to less than 20.

"We have been approached and there clearly is a desire, which is imbedded in the Thompson report, to reduce the number of municipalities in the province and bring parts of the province that are not part of any formal structure into a municipality," said the mayor.

The City of Summerside was created in 1995, after the amalgamation of the former Town of Summerside with the neighbouring communities of St. Eleanors, Wilmot and a segment of Sherbrooke.

One community that could be on a list of potential areas to include within Summerside's boundaries is Linkletter, confirmed the mayor.

"Geographically, when I say expand our boundaries, would we love to talk to Linkletter? Absolutely. Would we? Absolutely," added Martin. "Possibly Miscouche. Would we? Absolutely.

But, he added, "Only if it makes sense for us and for them."