Canadian Headline News – Dispute spells the end for Mount Stewart community council – Prince Edward Island

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A dispute over fire service in the Village of Mount Stewart has resulted in the dissolution of Mount Stewart community council.

Chair Maxine Jay-Doucette and vice-chair Julie McKay resigned at Monday’s council meeting, over efforts by other members of council to shut down the Mount Stewart fire department. 

Under municipal regulations, council was dissolved following the resignations, leaving the province to oversee village affairs.

Jay-Doucette said she resigned after a member of council put forward a motion at Monday’s meeting to permanently close Mount Stewart Fire Department on Dec. 31 and turn to the nearby East River Fire Department for fire protection services.

Council had previously agreed to host a public meeting on the issue in January, according to Jay-Doucette.

Mount Stewart fire crew in action, April 2013

Questions over the future of the Mount Stewart Fire Department precipitated Monday’s resignations. (CBC)

“This [the fire issue] should have gone to a public meeting,” Jay-Doucette said. “But obviously something changed Monday night.” 

Mount Stewart resident Mearl Crane, who was the council member who brought forward the motion to close the fire department, says the issue comes down to cost.

“We have two fire departments within a mile of each other,” said Crane. “East River Fire Department can do the job for less. It’s nostalgia holding us back.”

​Mount Stewart Fire Chief Eddie Doyle declined comment on the issue, but he did say the fire department will provide the public with information in the near future on recent and ongoing improvements to the department, its equipment and training standards.

Mediator had been working with council

The province is now stepping in to handle village affairs. The minister responsible for municipal affairs said he will likely appoint a commissioner who will remain in place until the next election is held.

“We want to ensure that the interests of the residents are upheld,” said Communities Minister Robert Mitchell. “So we’ll be looking at moving forward very quickly.”

Robert Mitchell, Dec. 7, 2017

Robert Mitchell, minister of Communities, Land and Evironment says a mediator had been working with council to resolve the issue. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The province had previously appointed a mediator to try to resolve the impasse. The mediator had been attending council meetings and talking to council members.

“From the department level, we’ve been working with Mount Stewart for some while now … looking for things to work out to the best that they could be,” Mitchell said. “That wasn’t able to be achieved, obviously.”

​The next municipal elections in Mount Stewart are slated to take place next fall.  The provincially appointed commissioner would remain in place until then, but an election could be held earlier at the request of residents, according to Mitchell.

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