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Monday, 7 March 2011

Regionalization...ism..ish

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador is currently holding meetings with municipalities around NL to discuss a discussion paper that they have prepared on the idea of regional government. For full details on the initiative click here and have a read through the documents for yourself.

The basic idea is that over the last 50 or 60 years the province has attempted to initiate some forms of regionalization with various levels of success due to many, many factors. We are currently at a point where it is time to start looking at the idea seriously and determine how it might come into play to help our small communities continue to deliver essential services without having to over tax the residents involved.

The papers speak for themselves and are intended as a starting point for discussion and they are not intended to offer specific solutions. The response from municipalities appears to be favorable so far, but there are lots of issues to discuss and a great deal of work still needs to be done. This story in The Western Star is an example of the current reception.

Other provinces have gone through or proposed similar initiatives but the most similar to our situation is currently in New Brunswick where there is a Government report titled "Building Stronger Local Governments and Regions" and it lays out very specific actions designed to build the strongest and most sustainable communities possible in NS. Of course the Gov of NS is not exactly rushing to implement the plan because it means significant change and would require them to push through some difficult legislation. I do hope they make it work.

What I really hope is that the MNL initiative leads to a similar study of the NL municipal system. We seriously need municipal reform that includes regional options. It won't be simple and it will require serious determination by the NL Government. During my time working in the municipal sector in NL I can honestly say that were it not for the efforts of MNL there would be very little action in terms of looking for a sustainable model of local government. Heres hoping that the towns in NL can see the real benefits of starting that discussion before it's too late.

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