Joint council plodding forward
Joint Council continuing efforts to improve regional co-operation
The CBN Joint Council is continuing efforts to enhance regional cooperation in the area from Brigus to Victoria, and it’s looking as though shared garbage collection services may be the first example of this, at least on a localized scale. The council is also moving ahead with an initiative to establish a chamber of commerce in the area.
The municipal leader co-chairing a committee attempting to establish a chamber of commerce in Conception Bay North admits the effort will be an “uphill battle.”
Brigus town councillor Greg Hiscock took on the role during a meeting of the CBN Joint Council in Brigus on May 30.
Hiscock supports the concept, but suggested “there’s no hunger for it” among the business community.
He said the St. John’s Board of Trade, for example, has representation from about 10 per cent of the capital city’s business community, while at its peak, he said the former Baccalieu Trail Board of Trades, which ceased to exist several years ago, boasted some 300 business members, and “there’s that many in Bay Roberts alone.”
He said the Baccalieu Trail board depended on grants from the federal government to stay afloat, and that membership dues alone would not cover the bills, including salaries.
“This needs to be business driven,” Hiscock explained to the 16 other municipal leaders representing eight towns in attendance at last month’s meeting. “There might be an attitude that this is just another burden or expense.
“We can throw out the seed, but unless business buys into it, it will not work.”
Meanwhile, discussion continued about the concept of improved regional co- operation, with an emphasis on shared services in areas such as garbage collection, water/waste water management and regional governance.
North River Mayor Blair Hurley agreed to chair a joint committee with a m a n d a t e to examine improved ways o f c o l l e cting garbage.
Hurley noted that garbage collection costs in his town, which contracts the service to a private company, have tripled in recent years, though the volume has increased only slightly.
It was noted that neighbouring towns such as Clarke’s Beach and Cupids, which operate garbage compacting trucks, often send their trucks to the Robin Hood Bay landfill in St. John’s without full loads.
“We are ready to talk,” Hurley said about the prospect of partnering with a neighbouring town.
“Clarke’s Beach is interested,” replied Clarke’s Beach town councillor Roland Andrews.
“The more we do collectively the better,” added another municipal leader.
The concept of regional garbage col lection is not new, and was attempted in the area from North River to Conception Harbour several years ago. However, the idea stalled.
Those at the meeting say greater co-operation is widely supported by municipal leaders, but there is a feeling that the provincial government has to be at the table. It was also vocalized, in strong terms, that Local Service Districts such as Makinsons, Port de Grave and oth- ers have to be “placed on a level playing field” with incorporated towns.
Development in some unincorporated communities is booming, added another attendee, and property owners are not required to pay any municipal taxes, while the province provides services such as snowclearing and road maintenance.
“The government should cut the ties” with Local Service Districts, said one town councillor, but added, “it would be political suicide to get them to incorporate.”
Bay Roberts Mayor Phil Wood, who leads the largest municipality in the region, said regional governance “can very much be workable,” but stressed it will not work without input “and most importantly money” from the provincial government.
In that light, members agreed to extend an invitation to Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O’Brien, requesting his attendance at the council’s next meeting on June 27.
South River is scheduled to host the meeting, but it may be moved to Clarke’s Beach if O’Brien agrees to attend because of space limitations at the municipal building in South River.
Greg Hiscock is a town councillor with the Town of Brigus.
Carbonear town councillor George Butt (second from right) is chairman of the Conception Bay North Joint Council. He is seen here with, from left, Coun. David Murphy (Harbour Grace), Coun. Garry Bendell (Clarke’s Beach) and Coun. Roland Andrews (Clarke’s Beach).
Just under 20 municipal leaders representing eight towns in the Conception Bay North region attended a joint council meeting in Brigus late last month.