Council History

The North Shore Municipality is situated between the PEI National Park and the Municipality of York to the North and East of Charlottetown. The economic activity in the area has traditionally been farming, fishing and tourism. But the community has increasingly become a “bedroom community” for workers who commute to Charlottetown, or a summer haven for Islanders and non-Islanders. This development trend is both the reason for the existence of the North Shore Council and the fundamental challenge to its effectiveness.

The community council was established in response to Provincial Government interest in getting rural residents to take part in local government. Traditionally rural communities were organized around small school districts, which had been made irrelevant by amalgamation. The last vestige of the former rural self-government was the community hall committee, whose chair became the first chair of the North Shore CIC in 1974. Under the CIC legislation the elected members took responsibility for a limited number of items including fire protection. As well the community set up a planning board to comment on development proposals presented to the Department of Municipal Affairs as a means to keep the rural character of the area.

But CIC’s were pretty well toothless dogs who could only bark at what they saw wrong with the roads, (still a Provincial responsibility), and garbage collection (locally, we refused to set up a container site, instead putting out seasonal cans to collect garbage in high litter areas). And eventually we found our comments on development were futile since we could not stop projects which residents found objectionable. Discussion on community planning, which would give local control, began soon after the formation of the CIC.

In 1978 the community found that the Charlottetown area fire departments would no longer come to fires in our community. After a spring grass fire on the Stanhope peninsula and a house fire in West Covehead a meeting of Council was called to seek approval from the residents to establish a fire department. Council was instrumental in forming the North Shore Rural Community Fire Company in June of 1979. Soon the Fire Company was providing fire protection to four adjacent communities that contribute half of the current budget for The Fire Company. The leadership of Council in developing services for area residents continues to this day.

Finding a “comfortable fit” for development has been a continuing challenge. A first attempt at establishing a community plan between 1981 and 1985 met with failure. It became obvious to Council that if we wanted to have a say in what was permitted in local development we had to create a community plan under the Planning Act. Rural residents are in universal agreement on the need to keep the rural character of the Island. This was obvious in the North Shore Planning meetings held under the auspices of the Provincial Government in 1977. The initial discussions of forming a community plan occurred at an annual meeting of Council in 1982. The process ended in January 1985 at a public meeting to show residents what a plan might look like. In the words of one resident, “It was almost like you fellas dropped in here from Mars” so outraged was the reaction of the meeting to the idea of a plan. Concern was expressed about farmers’ land being their “retirement fund” and should remain free from interference. The movement to an official plan was shelved until brought up at a summer meeting of Council in 2003. Council achieved local control of development in 2005 In 1995 the opportunity came, through the Federal-Provincial Infrastructure program, to replace the community hall with a modern building. A new Community Centre was designed with an office, meeting room, kitchen and a recreation area with stage. Again the community took the lead and is providing recreation and meeting space to the surrounding communities. Putting the building on Meadowlands Park allowed for both baseball and soccer programs to use the facility. We hope our latest project – “The Promenade” – a recreational walkway along the shores of Covehead Bay will serve as a similar focus for residents of the North Shore.

Andrew Morrow