BY SYLVIA TEASDALE
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) needed updating, just not in the way the government envisioned it. What better time to insinuate the tools required to sculpt the governance of the Island, carving the province into 20-25 municipalities and modernise us in the process?
Now, there is another layer of government between itself and its residents with a simple sleight of hand. No matter that this little province of 150,000 souls is mostly rural and has no need of the trappings, costs and restraints of municipal governance. Common sense should not get in the way of a good government idea.
The Three Rivers amalgamation project was to be the model for the province under the new MGA. To ensure swift success, the process was to be conducted by a handful of people, in secrecy. All went according to government plan until August 2017 when the residents of the affected unincorporated areas raised the alarm.
The rest is recent history as votes were overturned by local councils and a petition and plebiscite by the unincorporated residents was patently ignored by government. The latest indignity in this saga is that five small incorporated communities sent the original proposal of seven incorporated entities and three fire districts to government and IRAC for approval. The yes votes of approximately 150 people have put the lives of 7,500 mostly unwilling people into an annexation situation. Not democracy’s finest hour.
This proposal was posted by IRAC to their website on April 19, 2018. IRAC is accepting objections and comments from Islanders and affected municipalities until May 22, 2018. If you are mailing your objection, be careful. The MGA suggests you mail it 10 days before the deadline to make sure it arrives on time. Subsequent to this deadline, there may be public hearings, depending on who objects. The councils of Montague and Georgetown, who voted against amalgamation, have now voted to object. They must now file an objection officially, including a formal resolution of council.
The Rural Coalition of P.E.I. has mounted an Island-wide campaign, asking residents to file objections, using the IRAC form. We have a network of volunteers, including members of the National Farmers Union, reaching out to residents. All Islanders need to understand that if the Three Rivers amalgamation succeeds, all residents will be affected in a similar fashion.
A public meeting will be held at Kaylee Hall in Pooles Corner on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 7 pm. The purpose of this meeting is to explain the IRAC process and ask attendees to sign objection forms. If other communities wish our help in planning public meetings, we are happy to do so. This affects the life of all Islanders and we cannot fail.
- Sylvia Teasdale is a resident of the unincorporated rural area of Burnt Point near Georgetown