ST. PETER’S BAY — The Federation of PEI Municipalities has called on the Province to ensure proper land use planning and fair tax policy for municipalities this election year.
“Our Island is changing in profound ways,” said FPEIM President Bruce MacDougall, speaking at the Semi-Annual Meeting on Saturday in the Rural Municipality of St. Peter’s Bay. “Devastating weather events are becoming more common. Development is sprawling. Resources and natural views are being lost.”
The Federation wants the Province to put interim measures in place to control development until implementation of a provincial land use plan. MacDougall stressed that the Island needs population growth and development, but development cannot continue in a “haphazard” way.
He noted without proper planning, sprawling development boosts costs, consumes resource land, damages natural areas, and increases greenhouse gas emissions.
The Federation has also asked the Province to provide more tax room to municipalities, which must raise most of their revenue from property taxes.
“Under this proposal, the Province would lower taxes on non-commercial residential properties inside municipalities,” MacDougall explained. “Municipalities then could increase their taxes without residents paying more.”
MacDougall said PEI municipalities face capacity challenges in expanding infrastructure and services for a rapidly growing population, dealing with complex issues like climate change, and meeting improved governance standards under the Municipal Government Act (MGA).
Tax room would allow municipalities to generate more resources to meet the demands of a growing population and the changing dynamics of the province. “It would help them expand services, implement the MGA, invest in infrastructure, prepare for climate change, improve emergency management, and invest in planning resources.”
MacDougall added a fairer tax system would encourage development inside municipalities, strengthening service centres and reducing environmental effects.
With 2023 an election year, MacDougall called on mayors and councillors to engage candidates on municipal issues. “We want all candidates to understand the importance of municipalities, of planning, and of the choices that now face our province.”
The Semi-Annual Meeting also featured an address from Fisheries and Communities Minister Jamie Fox and workshops on emergency management, municipal liability, and the municipal role in protecting the Island ecosystem. In addition, participants toured the nearby Canadian Climate Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation.