A proposed amalgamation between Brackley and Winsloe South could be just the beginning when it comes to creating a new municipality in the area.
Both councils, which collectively represent about approximately 600 residents, voted on Wednesday to submit a request asking the province to amalgamate the two communities.
Chris Beer, vice chair of Brackley council, said joining together would be a win-win for both communities.
“Nothing but good can come from this. We’ve got to grow, we may as well grow with Winsloe South,” said Beer, noting the similarities between the two rural communities and the benefits of a larger tax base and increased population to access federal funds.
Brian D. Turner, chair of Winsloe South council, and several residents said amalgamation is inevitable for smaller communities in P.E.I. to meet regulations in the new act.
“We’ve got to do it and the wheels are in motion now,” said Turner, who also felt it would make sense for other communities in the area such as Brackley Beach, Harrington and North Winsloe to also eventually join.
The vote came following a public meeting that saw a mix of 35 residents from both communities.
Residents heard amalgamating the two communities would be the easiest first step, since many of the other surrounding areas are unincorporated and have no official representation.
“I would say this is the beginning not the end,” said Beer, who also pointed to Union Road and York as communities that may want to eventually join a larger municipality.
Residents were told, if the decision to amalgamate was made, it would be better to act before the new Municipal Governance Act was proclaimed. That’s because the new act, which is expected to be proclaimed any day, requires much more paperwork to amalgamate.
Amalgamation would see an interim council appointed by the province. As part of the move, Brackley council will allow South Winsloe residents to keep their non-commercial tax rate of 8.5 cents per $100 of assessment until a new council is voted on during next year’s municipal election.
At that point, determining tax rates would be at the new council’s discretion.
Currently, the non-commercial tax rate in Brackley is 19 cents per $100 of assessment.
Most residents appeared to be in favour of the idea and felt that amalgamation was eventually inevitable.
However there were some concerns, mainly around the cost of amending Brackley’s official plan to include Winsloe South.
Another concern was that Winsloe South was not “bringing enough to the table” since it does not have a community hall and other infrastructure like Brackley.
Winsloe south resident Dennis Watts said he wished his community had more to offer in the amalgamation but said there were mutual benefits in joining together.
He said amalgamation, and likely higher taxes to comply with the new act’s regulations, was likely inevitable and that it was best to act now instead of waiting.
“That’s just the unfortunate reality of that. We can try to fight government on our own, but we’re stronger in numbers we need to come together as smaller communities,” he said.