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Municipal Elections PEI 2014

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Municipal Government 101

  • Municipal Boundaries on Prince Edward Island

  • Municipal government on Prince Edward Island is composed of both elected and appointed officials. Each of these groups has distinct responsibilities, but need to work together in order to successfully run the municipality.
    Resources are here to help you gain further information regarding municipal government and its roles on Prince Edward Island.

    What is a municipality?

    In Canada, a municipality is a local government that is established by Provincial or Territorial legislation. In Prince Edward Island, the three primary enabling municipal statutes are the Municipalities Act, the Charlottetown Area Municipalities Act and the City of Summerside Act. Municipalities have boundaries, the power to provide certain local services to their residents, and the ability to tax residents through the levying of a municipal property tax rate.

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    What do municipalities do?

    The municipal level of government in Canada is a statutory level of government, as it has been created by the statutes of the provinces and territories. Each province or territory delegates a range of services and powers to municipalities. Beyond fire services, the services PEI municipalities provide vary widely. Some other services provided by municipalities in Prince Edward Island include:

    • Road maintenance
    • Water & sewer service
    • Recreation
    • Public properties, including libraries, recreation fields and administration buildings
    • Land use planning
    • Street lights & sidewalks
    • Police protection services

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    Minimum requirements by municipalities

    Each year, pursuant to the Municipalities Act, every municipality in Prince Edward Island must meet certain minimum requirements in order to be in compliance with the applicable governing legislation. These requirements for communities include, at a minimum:

    • Holding an annual general meeting in March;
    • Holding at least one meeting per year (could include the annual general meeting);
    • Passing a budget that is voted on by residents at the annual general meeting;
    • Approving a municipal property tax rate at the annual general meeting;
    • Receiving an annual audit of their financial information, unless budgeted expenditures for the year were under $50,000 and a motion was passed at the annual general meeting opting out of the audit requirement;
    • Submitting to the Minister, on or before April 1 of each year, a copy of the current year budget, prior year audited financial statements and the completed municipal financial information return; and
    • Appointing a chief administrative officer (administrator), who is not a member of council.

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    Municipal government in Prince Edward Island

    Municipal government on Prince Edward Island is composed of both elected and appointed officials. Both of these groups have distinct responsibilities, but need to work together in order to successfully run the municipality. The appointed officials include the chief administrative officer, and depending on the municipality, other municipal staff responsible for such things as finance, planning or recreation. The elected officials in every municipality include the Mayor or Chairperson, along with a group of councillors. The responsibilities of these positions are described below:


    The mayor or chairperson of a municipal government is the political head of the municipality and chairs all meetings of council. They are elected at large by all residents, and they act as the spokesperson for the municipality unless they delegate that task to another individual on council. The Mayor/Chairperson only votes on resolutions when a tie vote needs to be broken and are to be unbiased during any debates.


    Municipal councillors are elected either at large or by ward, if the municipality has a ward electoral system in place in a bylaw. The councillors are responsible for debating issues and bringing forth resolutions at council meetings. Councillors are responsible for listening to residents’ concerns and bringing these concerns forward to the whole council. Most municipalities on PEI have between 3-6 councillors (which is the number required under legislation), but some may have more council positions if the municipality had more council positions prior to November 1, 1983.


    The chief administrative officer (CAO) or administrator is responsible for the implementation of the policies approved by the elected council. They act as the main link between the municipal staff and the elected officials. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the municipality, including the preparation of financial reports, preparation of budgets, bringing forward any planning issues, and bringing forward staff recommendations to council.

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    Council/administration relationship

    Municipal Governments on PEI operate under the Council/CAO system. This relationship is based on the Council deciding the policy direction of the municipality. This policy direction includes setting tax rates, approving budgets, approving land use planning documents (if an official plan is in place), approving major purchases, as well as hiring the CAO.

    The CAO is the link between municipal staff and council and implements the policies of council. They not only prepare various reports and budgets, but also direct staff to follow the policy instructions of council. They are responsible for the hiring and firing of any staff, preparation of budgets, preparation of policy recommendations, ensuring Council is following proper policies and legislation, as well as reporting to Council on a regular basis on all aspects of the municipality.

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