Two communities located just outside Charlottetown have officially been amalgamated into one, beating the new proclamation of P.E.I.’s new Municipal Government Act by about a week.
The communities of Brackley and Winsloe South were officially amalgamated into one community by the province, an order that came into force on Dec. 15.
The act came into effect on Saturday, Dec. 23.
The new boundaries will be known as the Community of Brackley and will represent about 600 residents.
Following a public feedback meeting earlier this month, representatives from both previous community councils voted unanimously to request amalgamation.
Chris Beer, chair of an interim council appointed by the province, told The Guardian earlier this month that joining together would be a win-win for both communities and noted the rural similarities and benefits of a larger tax base and increased population to access federal funds.
“Nothing but good can come from this. We’ve got to grow, we may as well grow with Winsloe South,” said Beer, who was vice-chair of Brackley council at the time.
Residents were told during the meeting that if the decision to amalgamate was made it would be better to act before the legislation was proclaimed.
That’s because the new act requires much more paperwork to amalgamate.
The new legislation will also now require councils to follow new conflict-of-interest regulations, while municipalities with more than $50,000 in annual expenditures will be required to have audited financial statements. More long-term requirements for the act includes all municipalities develop an emergency management plan within three years, while land-use bylaws must be in place within five years.
As part of the amalgamation, residents of what was formerly South Winsloe will keep a 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 in Nov. 2018.
Currently, the non-commercial tax rate for residents in the original Brackley boundaries is 19 cents per $100 of assessment.
Other members of the provincially appointed interim council include Ron Collett, Kent Dollar, Don Jardine, Joey MacLaren, Brendon McKenna and Roddy (Dhuey) Pratt.
The interim council will be in place until next fall’s election.
During the public meeting, many expressed the sentiment that amalgamation was inevitable for smaller communities in P.E.I. to meet the new regulations.
“I would say this is the beginning not the end,” said Beer, who also pointed to Harrington, Brackley Beach, North Winsloe, Union Road and York as communities that may want to eventually join with the new municipality.