BY SYLVIA TEASDALE
Welcome to 2018 and a daunting agenda for those who keep rural P.E.I. rural. This is the year for municipal elections and the government wants to have as many newly incorporated entities as possible for this grand event. And yes, the proposed 3Rivers amalgamation will be the cornerstone of the amalgamation initiative, the model for all other urban/rural amalgamations.
Being incorporated will give us a voice, the government says. In fact, incorporation will silence the rural voice. We will be swallowed up into incorporated bureaucracies, which do not reflect our lives, our needs and our way of life. Or our choice to live a rural lifestyle.
The incorporated towns, villages and cities are part of a federation, the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities. Have a look at their website and see what is in store for rural P.E.I. (fpeim.ca) and give yourself a fright.
The government’s goal is to create an incorporated P.E.I., incorporating all of it piece by piece until the project is complete, all sorted out.
What a coup that will be for the government of Premier MacLauchlan. However, they are missing the big picture. With a total population of approximately 153,000 souls, why not amalgamate the entire population of the Island into Charlottetown?
Then, the Island could be divided into wards. We would no longer have need of a provincial government and the large bureaucracy it feeds. After all, in Upper and Lower Canada, a town of 153,000 people is very small. So why have Summerside, Stratford, Tignish and Montague. Think of the economies of scale one island wide city would provide…. and the subsidies…. and the grants. The opportunities are limitless.
Upon reflection, perhaps I have lost control of my thinking processes and my dreams. I forgot to keep my focus on the real issue. P.E.I. is a rural, farming and fishing province. Of course, there has to be urban centres but 70 per cent of the land mass is involved in rural activities which are not compatible with urban bureaucracies.
So why does the government want to urbanize a rural province? Why does the government want to saddle these rural residents with all the encumbrances of an urban system? This wrongheaded plan defies reality and common sense.
The residents of rural P.E.I. need to stand together, to create a counter balance to the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities, not become a part of it. If we do not unite, we are sitting ducks. The government will divide and conquer us until we no longer exist.
People in the unincorporated areas of the Island need to create an association of our own. This can be accomplished by coming together, through our fire districts, and choosing people to represent local residents. Then, we can develop networks to communicate and create a lobby force to make sure our voices are heard and our way of life is protected.
I encourage people to send a message to the Premier (email@example.com) and their MLA urging them to leave unincorporated areas out of amalgamation processes. This is not the right governance solution for rural Islanders.
Go to the Facebook pages of Unincorporated Islanders, RuralresistancePEI and We are rural strong. Get involved; it matters to your way of life.
Residents of unincorporated areas in the Cardigan, Georgetown and Montague Fire Districts will vote in a plebiscite on January 20 and 22, 2018, yes or no to amalgamation. We need people to vote and we need the support of all unincorporated Islanders on this issue. It is our issue today and tomorrow, it will be yours.
- Sylvia Teasdale is a resident of the unincorporated rural area of Burnt Point near Georgetown. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org