Mak­ing a case for amal­ga­ma­tion

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

We love Labrador!

I be­lieve this prov­ince must surely be con­sid­ered the jewel in the Crown of Canadian prov­inces.

As a peo­ple how­ever, we have a chal­lenge that af­flicts most of us and one that we can ill af­ford to ig­nore. Over the cen­turies the very chal­lenge of living here has of­ten helped de­fine us as a peo­ple. Eco­nomic cir­cum­stances such as the col­lapse of the cod fish­ery in 1992 have ne­ces­si­tated the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and re­defin­ing of our econ­omy. As part of our adap­ta­tion we have ra­tio­nal­ized the fish­ery, closed smaller schools and churches and cen­tral­ized ser­vices such as re­tail and com­mer­cial cen­tres.

If we are to truly build fi­nan­cially stronger com­mu­ni­ties we must get bet­ter at re­solv­ing the fis­cal chal­lenges that hold our com­mu­ni­ties back from eco­nomic pros­per­ity. Th­ese chal­lenges re­sult largely from the na­ture of our fis­cally limited small and stand­alone com­mu­ni­ties, many of which are fac­ing a de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion and which are of­ten lo­cated within a sprawl­ing and rugged coastal ter­rain which makes pro­vid­ing ba­sic ser­vices quite bur­den­some.

The Con­cep­tion Bay North (CBN) area is ripe for both com­mer­cial and com­mu­nity de­velop-

New­found­land

& ment, and while some shar­ing of re­sources is ev­i­dent, our small towns have fallen short of col­lab­o­rat­ing and shar­ing to take ad­van­tage of the in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties that could re­sult if we were a sin­gle mu­nic­i­pal en­tity. I be­lieve it is now the right time to con­sider do­ing busi­ness in a dif­fer­ent way — a way that cre­ates greater com­mu­nity wealth re­sult­ing in a greater ben­e­fit for all our res­i­dents.

As cit­i­zens, we have been rather si­lent when it comes to en­cour­ag­ing our lo­cal lead­ers to en­gage with neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to cre­ate larger and bet­ter eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The main rea­son for this I sub­mit is that many of us fear a loss of our own sense of com­mu­nity if towns dropped th­ese ar­ti­fi­cial (and I sub­mit re­stric­tive) bound­aries in or­der to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices. Can it be that our very strong sense of com­mu­nity iden­tity is a key fac­tor in hold­ing us back from cre­at­ing a strong mu­nic­i­pal struc­ture that benefits all our cit­i­zens?

I sin­cerely be­lieve that we will all ben­e­fit from a will­ing­ness to share and col­lab­o­rate (and yes join with) our neigh­bour towns while main­tain­ing our own unique and vi­brant com­mu­nity and neigh­bour­hood val­ues, tra­di­tions and iden­ti­ties. In fact, I be­lieve there should be (in­stead of the cur­rent ap­prox­i­mately nine­teen sep­a­rate towns) prefer­ably one, two or three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in this area, within which our com­mu­ni­ties and our tra­di­tions and iden­ti­ties would still thrive and pros­per.

In essence, I be­lieve that we can do bet­ter for our cit­i­zens by work­ing to­gether not only from a fi­nan­cial and ser­vices per­spec­tive, but also by cre­at­ing a new and bet­ter mu­nic­i­pal struc­ture.

Hav­ing an ap­pro­pri­ately de­fined mu­nic­i­pal­ity that rep­re­sents the cit­i­zens of a larger area, I sub­mit, will en­sure we are bet­ter able to gov­ern and pro­vide ser­vices as well as other ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. I be­lieve it will also po­si­tion our peo­ple and our towns to com­pete with other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties both within and out­side the prov­ince where progress ap­pears to be pro­ceed­ing at a pace that is not as likely, and prob­a­bly not even pos­si­ble, in our more fi­nan­cially chal­lenged and iso­lated smaller towns.

The thoughts put for­ward here are mine, how­ever, I am con­fi­dent they are shared by many. I am also aware of and re­spect that oth­ers may dis­agree.

What mat­ters most at this point is that we start and con­tinue this con­ver­sa­tion.

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