Municipal restructuring is an opportunity

Opinion letter by Bruce MacDougall, FPEIM President published in The Guardian and The Journal-Pioneer on September 28, 2017 and in the Eastern Graphic on September 27, 2017

With 73 municipalities in PEI that only cover 30 per cent of our Island, how can we expect rural PEI to be strong?

We can’t.

Many municipalities lack the capacity for local planning and strategic decision-making.  These are essential for shaping a better future.

Read more.

Carrots win over sticks

Editorial from The Guardian published December 7, 2016.

The new Municipal Government Act (MGA) will not ram changes down the throats of communities. But it’s clear where the province is headed – a major reduction in the number of municipal units – while giving those expanded communities the financial means to sustain themselves.

Almost every community suffers from the same malaise – an aging core with restrictive boundaries, struggling to sustain schools, churches, stores, garages, fire departments and arenas.

Just outside community boundaries, new homes are built as people leave or move to avoid the higher taxes of the incorporated community. But they still enjoy services the community has to offer, such as fire coverage. Outside residents benefitted as the province plowed and maintained their roads and picked up garbage. It’s not fair.

Read more of The Guardian editorial from December 7, 2016, here.

Presentation to the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment

Presented on November 8, 2016.

On behalf of the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities, thank you for initiating a dialogue on annexation and amalgamation and for inviting the Federation to present its views on this important topic.

In Canada, and in developed countries around the world, it is increasingly understood that there is an important link between the strength of local governments, and regional and national prosperity.

Citizens rely on municipalities to deliver local services that make cities, towns and communities attractive places to live, work and play.  Through long-term comprehensive planning, modern infrastructure and amenities, and the delivery of a broad range of services, municipal governments play a fundamental role in creating conditions for economic growth.

Unfortunately, Prince Edward Island cannot reach its potential without transformative changes to address outdated municipal boundaries.  Municipal leaders have known this for a long time and, through the Federation, have been calling for change.

Read the complete presentation.

What PEI can learn from Brexit

Article by Paul MacNeill for PEICanada.com, published June 29, 2016.

“In the lead up to Britain’s referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union, a poll showed that a majority had very little knowledge about the union or their country’s role in it. Still 52 per cent, 17 million plus strong, voted to leave.

It is a result that will likely trigger a stampede of nationalistic rhetoric elsewhere and with it an equal amount of instability. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, England and Wales strongly for leaving. The United Kingdom may not be so united for long.

All because Prime Minister David Cameron decided it more important to risk the country in a referendum simply to appease members of his Conservative Party. There was no legal requirement to hold last week’s vote, it has much to do with silencing political foes as it did gauging the desires of Britons.

But it backfired. Spectacularly.

And that is what happens when politicians use plebiscites or referendums as an out clause.”

Read the story here.

Preserving Community Identity

Letter to the Editor from FPEIM President Bruce MacDougall – published in The Guardian on April 19, 2016

The need to restructure our rural communities has become increasingly evident in recent years.  What this change will look like is still to be determined.  As conversations take place, a number of very real issues need to be addressed.

It isn’t surprising that people have voiced concern around the loss of community identify as discussions about creating larger municipalities gain momentum.  There are examples of municipal restructuring, in Canada, where names of the original communities have disappeared except in the hearts and minds of residents.  It can and should be done differently in PEI.

See the full letter.

Amalgamation on P.E.I. complicated but necessary

Article from The Guardian, published March 4, 2016.

“Trying to amalgamate P.E.I.’s rural communities will be a tough sell, says Diane Griffin.

The Stratford town councillor was a part of a recent Institute of Island Studies symposium that took place at UPEI on Feb. 25 and looked at local governance on P.E.I. and the way this province is falling behind when it comes to how it is governed both provincially and municipally.”

Read the complete story here.