The most recent milestone within the long running process to overhaul Latest Brunswick’s municipal governance system was reached Tuesday with the discharge of a discussion paper.
Minister of local government and native government reform Daniel Allain released the green paper Tuesday morning, with an acknowledgement that the present system is in need of change.
“We’d like reform. It’s been 60 years we now have touched it,” Allain said.
“If we don’t do anything, it could hamper the standard of our services and it could hamper economic development.”
The present system dates back to the Sixties, when an equalization system was introduced to make sure comparable services in municipalities across the province.
The green paper is meant to guide discussion and consultations over the following several months, with a final white paper to be released in the autumn detailing proposed changes.
Allain said the federal government isn’t entering the method with any “preconceived notion” of what the changes will likely be, but says ensuring everyone within the province has local elected representation is a priority.
Immediately 30 per cent of the population lives in a LSD, which haven’t any mayor or council. Some have advisory committees, but all decision making power is left as much as the province.
“Our objective just isn’t to have that lack of representation proceed” Allain said.
“I’m immediately the mayor and council for all these LSDs. These individuals don’t have the power to vote on municipal governance.”
The move towards changing that and other broader issues is being applauded by the Union of Municipalities of Latest Brunswick (UMNB).
“Taxation needs to return with representation. We’re having conversations about who pays for what and the way much, but that also has to incorporate representation, who speaks for you, who gets a say, who gets to determine what it looks like at the tip of the day,” said Margot Cragg, executive director of the UMNB.
“For the oldsters in LSDs it’s a fundamental query. They need to have a voice and choose who’s speaking for them.”
That conversation, about who pays for what, is significant for among the province larger municipalities. The Eight Cities Association has long been advocating for a greater cost-sharing arrangement between the province’s cities and smaller neighboring communities.
The argument is that recreational facilities and other services provided and paid for by some municipalities are continuously utilized by those from neighbouring communities.
“The excellent tax reform piece is totally essentially the most critical,” said Adam Lordon, mayor of Miramichi and president of the Eight Cities Association.
“You understand, acknowledging and asking every Latest Brunswicker regardless of where they live to pay their justifiable share and for the services they receive and in some cases that’s going to mean a realignment.”
The variety of municipal entities within the province may also be checked out. There at the moment are 340 municipal entities within the province, including cities, towns, villages and native service districts (LSD). The green paper notes that Nova Scotia, which has a bigger population, has just 50 municipal units.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Allain told reporters that number must be lower and wouldn’t rule out forced amalgamation.
“We don’t wish to force anything on anyone. Nevertheless we all know that the way in which it looks today has to vary,” Allain said.
“We now have too many entities and it’s really necessary to scale back the variety of entities.”
Miramichi was considered one of the last communities to face forced amalgamation within the late Nineteen Nineties, to great public outcry. But Lordon says he feels that the change was positive what has happened in the town over the past 25 years.
“I do imagine that we’re higher off. We’ve been in a position to work together across the river as one community. We’ve been in a position to pool our economic development resources, we’re not competing,” he said.
“We’re all in the identical community now, we’re all working toward the identical goal. No matter amalgamations that will or may not occur, regional collaboration is an important a part of this discussion.”