Ex­plor­ing regional gov­er­nance in Cen­tral

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY ADAM RANDELL THE BEA­CON

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.

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