Tool kit can guide municipal leaders through amalgamation

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Municipalities to put more government information online

Municipal leaders now have a tool kit to help them plan amalgamation.

The Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities launched the online resource, called Building for the Future: A Guide to Municipal Restructuring, just in time for Monday's annual meeting.

"There's a lot of people that are scared they're going to be affected, especially smaller communities," said Bruce MacDougall, federation president.

"So this tool kit will allow them to really look and see how you can do it and the approach you need to take."

Still a voluntary process

The 54-page online guide takes community leaders through the process, outlining steps municipalities should take before amalgamating including consulting with residents and how to approach neighbouring communities.

Amalgamation could reduce P.E.I.'s 73 municipalities to just ten or 20.

The voluntary process would create more regional governments, with each with a tax base of $2 million dollars or so, and 3,000 to 4,000 residents, according to the federation.

"It will bring strong community-minded individuals together to look at what's best for the areas in which they live in. And I think that's something that will help all of Prince Edward Island," said Stephen Gould, the federation's vice-president for communities. 

'Way too many municipalities'

The tool kit will also help communities prepare for other changes that are coming, according to the federation.

In December, the P.E.I. Legislature passed a new Municipal Government Act, which is awaiting royal assent. It will raise the bar for municipal government on P.E.I., by requiring things such as yearly audits, and regular office hours.

"There's way too many municipalities for the size of this province and it needs to be fixed, it needs to be addressed," said MacDougall.

Some municipalities are more keen to amalgamate than others, according to the federation.

"Nobody has to lose their identity here. They need to be regions and work together," said MacDougall.

Find the online tool kit in PDF form here.

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