Exploring regional governance in Central
If there’s a way to bring additional resources to rural Newfoundland and Labrador communities, John Baird is willing to consider it.
The Traytown town councillor was one of 28 participants to attend a public consultation on regional governance in Gander Oct. 2.
Living in a community with a population of 280 residents and speaking on behalf of himself, not council, Baird said he was interested in how communities working together can obtain regional resources and promote economic development.
“It creates a louder voice, and if successful, all communities involved benefit,” he said.
The session was 11 of 22 government has been rolling out across the province.
With rural populations in decline and aging at an accelerated rate, the concept is to engage residents in establishing how local government and service delivery in Newfoundland and Labrador can be supported.
Out of the 28 participants in Zone 11 – which covers from Gander to the Eastport Peninsula – 54 per cent of those polled were in communities with a population of fewer than 500 people.
After breaking out into group sessions, many felt regional governance would provide communities with more purchasing power, assist with economic development, and bring forward a regionally focused effort.
The group felt firefighting, waste management, and water management, should be key priorities. However, not everyone was in favour. Some felt regional governance would bring increased costs to smaller communities, create further distances for services – such as regional fire departments – and cause communities to lose a sense of identity.
After the 22 consultations have been completed, all feedback received will be made public on the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment website in late 2017.