Joint coun­cil plod­ding for­ward

Joint Coun­cil con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to im­prove re­gional co-op­er­a­tion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

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