“This just isn’t something we can afford”: Provincial act forcing some Rural Island communities to dissolve

The municipality of Union Road has a small tax base with only 204 residents. Cory Pater Photo.

By Cory Pater

April 23, 2021

One rural Island community has made the choice to dissolve, and another is facing the same decision.

In 2017 the Municipal Government Act was passed which sets out guidelines for Island municipalities.

“The small rural municipality simply does not have the tax base to support these new requirements,” said Darlington Mayor David Peters in the proposal to dissolve.

The biggest problem for communities facing the MGA guidelines is the requirement for all municipalities to operate an office for twenty hours a week.

In July 2020, Darlington community council decided to dissolve after consulting its 91 residents who were in favour.

The community couldn’t afford to pay for the office space required by the MGA.

Now, the community of Union Road, with 204 residents faces the same situation.

The future of the municipality was brought up by the council’s CAO Ruth Copeland during a council meeting last Wednesday.

“This just isn’t something we can afford,” she said.

Union Road’s council is consulting residents through an online survey. Their choices are to amalgamate with a nearby community, dissolve, or significantly increase property taxes to comply with the MGA.

“Bottom line, the residents of the community will most definitely be consulted,” said Coun. Copeland.

The current deadline for all Island communities to comply with the MGA is November.

The province has made changes to the act which will allow multiple communities to share office space, but each community will still have to pay for its own staff.

Copeland and the rest of the council are continuing to lobby the provincial government to change the act or push the deadline back.

“Otherwise, I think the province might see a number of requests for dissolution come across their desk.”

The province has already pushed the MGA deadline once, from July 2020 to November 2021.