Special treatment for new kids in town irks Alberton town

Journal Pioneer staff
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The only town in West Prince is not taking kindly to the prospects of all these new kids on the block getting perks they don’t get.

An Alberton town councillor is crying foul regarding O’Leary’s movement toward town status.

Councillor David Campbell says it’s unfair that Alberton still has to pay for its own street maintenance and snow-clearing, while the new emerging towns like O’Leary, Stratford and Cornwall, don’t have to pay.

It is unfair if the province is enticing municipalities to switch to town status with promises of allowing them benefits the old towns don’t have.

The Community of O’Leary recently voted to apply for town status, now Tignish has started their application too. And why wouldn’t they? The Department of Municipal Affairs has given them assurances the province would continue to bear their street-related costs.

If both O’Leary and Tignish do become towns, that would leave Alberton the only municipality in West Prince that has to look after its own streets.

Campbell is not happy.

“As a town, we’re going to be paying for all these amenities, that we’re doing now, and these new towns are not paying,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the province’s Municipal Affairs department said payment is based on history. If the municipalities owned their streets before, they continue to pay for them. If they didn’t own them, like Stratford and Cornwall, they don’t have to pay for maintenance and clearing.

Another department representative did indicate they were exploring revenue-sharing options. But she also pointed out that transferring ownership of the streets of Alberton to the province would involve detailed discussions to come up with new financial agreements.

Even if it does involve a lot of effort and discussions, it would be worth it if Alberton can get some help with paying their street-related costs, which can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

They must be careful though that some of the perks they now receive aren’t taken away. Each municipality on P.E.I. receives a services grant intended to provide support to municipalities that have taken on responsibility for street maintenance and/or policing services. According to the municipal support grant figures for 2013-14, Alberton will receive $169,436, while O’Leary gets only $63,193 and Tignish, about the same amount - $60,046.

Alberton is right in at least forcing the provincial government to examine the issue to ensure that the new towns are not being treated differently than the old.

Organizations: Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Alberton, Tignish, Cornwall West Prince

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