The Federation of PEI Municipalities (FPEIM) is urging the Provincial government to provide more supports to municipalities and work in collaboration to strengthen municipal governments and the communities they serve. It’s a message that was shared during remarks at the Federation’s Annual General Meeting today (Monday, April 26).
“Providing municipal government services is an important responsibility and not easily done with the limited resources available to municipalities,” FPEIM President Bruce MacDougall said during his AGM address. “Many municipalities provide services to an area much larger than the municipality” he added. “A lot of work has been done to support municipalities, but we need to do more. Unfortunately, most municipalities are still faced with severely outdated municipal boundaries and inadequate financial resources.”
Limited revenue sources present challenges for municipalities across the country. In PEI, municipal governments face the added burden of high provincial property taxes that limit tax room for municipalities. The Federation is advocating for a reduction in provincial taxes on non-commercial properties within all municipalities.
“The needed tax room would support municipalities faced with the cost of servicing a rapidly growing population,” MacDougall said during the virtual meeting. “It would help municipal governments, large and small, to provide the services, amenities and long-term planning that make communities and neighbourhoods better places to live and raise a family.”
There are 59 municipal governments on PEI. One in three municipalities is smaller than five square kilometres in area. Thirty-four municipalities have a population of fewer than 400 residents.
“Municipal capacity is a serious problem in rural PEI,” MacDougall said. The strain has resulted in some municipalities considering dissolution. The Rural Municipality of Darlington, which recently applied to dissolve, is an example. “When a municipality dissolves, other municipalities are losing potential partners for restructuring or service sharing. Without a municipal government, local communities lose the authority to make local decisions.”
The FPEIM President remarked that the commitment by the Province to establish a pilot program to facilitate greater coordination of services among neighbouring municipalities is a good first step but added that long-term solutions to strengthen small municipalities are still needed.
“We must address the outdated provincial land use and property tax policy that has undermined municipal governments and fueled sprawl across the province, and we need more intermunicipal collaboration and additional resources for municipalities,” MacDougall said. “The Federation is committed to working together on solutions and we look forward to further discussion with the Province.”