2022-2023 Year in Review
Over the last year, the Seasonal Residents of Prince Edward Island Association (SR PEI) continued to mature as a non-profit organization and provide value to our members. In the spring, we provided guidance regarding the lifting of COVID travel restrictions. As the pandemic began to ease, the SRPEI provided valuable information to members about the changing landscape of travel restrictions and helped them navigate the new rules and regulations.
We continue to build our membership base, with a goal to represent the majority of Seasonal Resident households island-wide. We expected a small drop off of membership as pandemic related restrictions were lifted, however we made up for this with new members joining us. Board members Amanda MacKinnon and Dave Underhill work throughout the year supporting our new member processes and answering any membership questions you may have.
Last summer, we placed ads in Buzz and the Guardian / Saltwire to see how many new members we would reach. Board member Chuck Stevenson has secured SR PEI accounts across multiple social media platforms. This year, we will also use Facebook ads, and leverage the PEI municipal tax roll information, to continue to reach new households. The Facebook group continues to be a great pipeline for our membership.
We are currently building a database of Cottage / Homeowners Associations across the Island as another source of new members. Thank you to those of you who have sent us your information!
One of our priorities is providing opportunities to socialize and build community.
Throughout the summer, we hosted and promoted a number of social networking events across the island. These events included an afternoon at Bogside Brewing in Montague and a number of dinner, lunch and breakfast gatherings around the province. These events provided a great opportunity for members to get to know each other, build relationships, and enjoy all that Prince Edward Island has to offer. A number of SRPEI members and SR Facebook users pitched in to create informal networking events through the Facebook group, further strengthening our relationships (in particular, thank you Vickie Anderson and Stephanie Bonnell!).
In August, we held our Annual General Meeting (AGM). Thanks to all of you who attended and provided us with feedback and input on our priorities for this year. We welcomed Kandy Simpson to the Board as our Treasurer.
The AGM was followed by the annual social gathering at Peaks Quay in Charlottetown coordinated by Celeste Brodnick. This event brought together a wide range of seasonal residents from across the island and provided an opportunity for members to connect, share stories, and discuss issues of common concern.
Information & Services
We continue to add information and services to our website, recognizing not all of our members are active on the SR PEI Facebook group.
In addition to resource information, cottage rental listings, lists of seasonal resident owned businesses, and reference information, we introduced a new buy and sell marketplace online. This marketplace provided members with a convenient and secure way to buy and sell goods and services with each other.
Throughout the year, we maintained a steady stream of communication on topics relevant to members through the Fresh Island Fare monthly newsletter, coordinated by Board Secretary Aran Kavanagh. This newsletter has been an important source of information and updates related to seasonal residency on Prince Edward Island. Past editions can be found on our website.
Hurricane Fiona was devastating to many, and in partnership with Catherine LeBlanc (owner of the SR PEI Facebook page) we connected seasonal residents who needed property check-ins with those on the Island. Across the Island we saw many examples of people helping one another in a time of need. In addition, we provided information on local craft and tradespeople to help with repairs and restoration efforts.
An idea raised at the AGM resulted in Tom Brodnik, Board member, bringing in Island law firm McInnes Cooper to host two information sessions on Estate planning for Seasonal Residents - one for Canadian residents / citizens, and the other for non-residents / citizens. These sessions were well-attended and were recorded. We are working with the presenter to get the recordings and they will be posted shortly on our website.
The Underused Housing Tax (UHT) is the most recent example of the benefits of the Association and the community we have built on the Facebook page. With help from multiple members, in particular Brenda Potter Phalan, considerable information has been provided on the Tax and how to navigate the various (and confusing) requirements. This information has also been shared in our Fresh Island Fare newsletter and is available on our website.
Advocacy and government relations continue to be a key focus of our organization, with a goal to each year deepen our relationships with municipal and provincial representatives and represent our members on key issues.
In May, Three Rivers Municipality council voted to charge non-residents higher municipal taxes as a way to cover a budget deficit. Board member Bert Vincent was interviewed by CBC for an article raising awareness. With Charlottetown, Cornwall, and Stratford already doing so, the Board is concerned additional municipalities will take this “easy” approach to cover deficits. A key priority for 2023 is building relationships with Municipal representatives to mitigate this risk.
In the summer, we provided information to all our members as well as the Facebook community on Seasonal Residents’ eligibility to vote in the election in the Resort Municipality (Cavendish, North Rustico, Bayview, Hope River, and Stanley Bridge) - the only Municipality on the Island where SR’s can vote.
While the next elections aren’t for four years, we are currently advocating for the adoption of mail-in ballots (allowing more of you to vote). Seasonal Residents can also be members of Council and we would love one of our members to stand for Council in the next election!
Hurricane Fiona brought to light the Federal and Provincial rules regarding disaster relief and the ineligibility of secondary properties for funds under any program - even for Island residents. Thankfully, the vast majority of Seasonal Residents had minimal damage, or moderate damage covered by insurance.
Vice President Jerry LeBlanc pursued ACOA to advocate for coverage in their fund. Board President Jen Harding partnered with the Hebrides Homeowners Association president to advocate for coverage for those with catastrophic loss not covered by Insurance. This resulted in considerable local and national news coverage, and we continue to follow up with government representatives on this topic.
One of several Canadian Federal and Municipal changes to attempt to address the country’s housing crisis, the Federal Underused Housing Tax is a concern to many of our non-Canadian members. In September 2021, the Board submitted a position paper to the Federal and Provincial governments as part of the consultation process. Our key argument was that the contemplated tax was missing an exemption for foreign or non-resident owners who use their property seasonally.
While this exemption is now in place in the tax, the implementation of it is convoluted and complicated. As opportunities arise, the Association will continue to advocate for simplifications and improvements to the UHT.
We are tremendously proud of all we have achieved for a Board and Association who are still maturing as an organization. Thank you to all of our members for your continued support, and to those of you who have volunteered your time. We are looking to formalize more board committees in support of our priorities - please get in touch if you are interested in volunteering.