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Pelee Island benefiting from shared services with Amherstburg

Updated: Feb 28




The Mayor of Canada’s most southerly municipality has some advice for her neighbours.


Last Wednesday night, Cathy Miller, Mayor of the Municipality of Pelee, suggested to her Essex County council colleagues, that municipalities could benefit through shared services agreements.


“The expectation is that the larger municipalities have large departments, experience and expertise we wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” said Miller.

Miller acknowledged that Leamington provides Pelee Island with building services while Amherstburg is contracted for bylaw and drainage services.


“We prefer to work with multiple municipalities to ensure we don’t exhaust support. We don’t want to become a burden,” said Miller.


Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb said the agreement in place with Pelee Island is a good thing.


“The shared service agreement we have with Pelee has definitely been a benefit for both parties. It’s nice to be able to help,” said Gibb.


Mayor Michael Prue was not at Wednesday’s County Council meeting as he is on vacation and in his place, Amherstburg Councillor Diane Pouget attended.


According to Miller, Pelee did a service delivery review back in 2021 and said that the island municipal tax levy is under $2 million per year and that infrastructure funding is pegged at $1.8 million. She noted that there is a total infrastructure backlog of $60 million.


“My goal here today is to acknowledge that out-of-sight, out-of-mind has not worked for Pelee Island. It’s important we step out of our comfort zone and speak to you,” said Miller.


Miller explained that being separate and distinct and going it alone is not an option and that is why her municipality relies on services from others. Miller noted in her presentation to county council that a $100,000 project on the island translates to a $433 tax hike per household for its residents.


“We are a much-loved vacation spot for many of the people in Essex County but we are also a place to live, and work and grow,” said Miller.


There are 230 permanent residents on the island and over 800 seasonal of which half are from the United States. Agriculture takes up 74 percent of the land mass and 20 percent is formally protected. There are 217 endangered species, two provincial parks and the island boasts 42km of shoreline and has Canada’s largest private estate winery in Pelee Island Winery.


“We aren’t spinning our wheels out in the middle of the lake. We do quite a bit with quite a little,” said Miller.


As far as what Essex County can offer Pelee Island, Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy asked about whether or not a public library could be set up. Miller noted that while it would be welcome, the limitation of a brick-and-mortar building seems to be holding the island back for this initiative.


Essex County leant its support to a couple of resolutions put forth by Pelee Island – the request that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans take a look, through its Divesture Program, a means for Small Craft Harbours to transfer ownership of the harbour to other levels of government.


Also, a resolution where Pelee Island would be considered for grants to protect lands that are adjacent to Parks Canada Lands.


Miller had a lot of good news about the island including a new health care provider, and that the broadband project is on track and should be completed by the spring of 2025.


“We aren’t waiting for things to happen to us or for us,” said Miller.

 

 Pelee Island benefiting from shared services with Amherstburg

By Fred Groves

 

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