Changes to the Prince Edward Island Municipal Government Act
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Changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) that were implemented last year are causing a financial hardship for many communities, especially the smaller ones. It is causing them to either shut down, amalgamate with other communities or annex their unincorporated neighbours. The amendments to the MGA also included expanded rights for the Minister of Communities, Land and Development. He can now overrule councils and forcibly annex, amalgamate and restructure at will, against the wishes of the people. Forced Annexation has always been in the MGA. It allows any unincorporated area to be annexed with no vote. It is time this archaic law was abolished. In most democratic countries annexation requires a referendum of all involved and we feel this would be fair as everyone would have a say in what happens to them.
This is now an Island-wide problem. It will affect those in communities with councils as well as all those in unincorporated areas across the province. The Liberal government plans to implement the Thompson report. This means they will create 20-25 super municipalities in PEI and amalgamate the 73 current municipalities into them. They will also forcibly annex the 70% of the Island that is currently unincorporated. When they are finished, there will not be one square inch of the Island that is not part of a municipality.
This is affecting us personally in that we live in an unincorporated area that is being forcibly annexed into the Three Rivers Amalgamation Project. There are approximately 2000 eligible voters in the unincorporated areas. We held our own plebiscite and 1250 people voted with 1174 voting against being annexed and 76 voting for it. The towns of Georgetown and Montague opted out of the process. Lower Montague and Valleyfield voted 2-1 against amalgamation but their councils overruled them and decided to stay in the process. These two communities, along with Brudenell, Lorne Valley, and Cardigan (representing approximately 2003 people) have put forward a proposal to amalgamate the entire group including the 5400 people that voted against this. When 27% of a group can speak for the other 73%, there is something seriously wrong with the process. If this passes, we will be required to pay a new municipal tax and receive absolutely no new services in return and we will be subject to the bylaws of the new municipality. The Three Rivers Project has been cited as the "Model for PEI" by the Provincial Government.
In a nutshell, the Provincial Government has created financial problems for communities requiring them to double or triple their taxes to meet the new requirements. They are offering amalgamation and forced annexation as the solution. If you don't accept the solution, it can be forced on you with no vote or say in the matter. Their solution is to remove people and their vote from the process. This is not democracy!
By signing this petition, you can help us convince the Government of PEI to amend this heavy handed, undemocratic Act. You will be telling them that you believe in Democracy and believe that all citizens should have a right to have a say in matters that affect them. Please help us send this message to our government.
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