Ex­plor­ing amal­ga­ma­tion

Har­bour Grace Mayor ta­bles idea at CBN joint coun­cil meet­ing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The amal­ga­ma­tion for Conception Bay North com­mu­ni­ties is not some­thing that is al­ways brought up.

Nor is it a par­tic­u­larly wel­comed idea in some corners of the re­gion. It’s been said be­fore, but only as a whis­per be­tween neigh­bour­ing may­ors at a joint coun­cil meet­ing.

Well, now one area mayor is putting the idea out in the open. Har­bour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes told The Com­pass he would be in favour of a joint ef­fort by coun­cils.

“Times are chang­ing in the province … and try­ing to get fund­ing could be dif­fi­cult five or six years down the road,” said Barnes.

They were sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments to the ones he shared at a re­cent CBN joint coun­cil meet­ing held in Har­bour Grace on Sept. 24. When it came for present mem­bers to voice any rel­e­vant con­cerns, Barnes put up his hand and in­di­cated his de­sire to speak.

When he did, Barnes made a point to say com­ing to­gether as a group could be the best way for towns to ap­proach gov­ern­ment for fund­ing in the fu­ture.

“I’m not sure what word you’d use to de­scribe it, but five or six voices are bet­ter than one,” said Barnes. “I think we should be lob­by­ing gov­ern­ment for funds as one. Af­ter this year, it will be hard get­ting any money out of gov­ern­ment.”

Dur­ing the reg­u­lar joint coun­cil meet­ing, there were no­tice­able nods of agree­ment with what Barnes was say­ing. The CBN joint coun­cil is made up of coun­cil­lors and may­ors from the re­gion.

How­ever, there were still some ques­tions re­gard­ing the no­tion.

“It’s amal­ga­ma­tion to a cer­tain point, but he’s talk­ing about a group hav­ing more power than one,” said Vic­to­ria coun­cil­lor Aubrey Rose.

Los­ing iden­ti­ties

The big­gest fear at­tached to the idea of amal­ga­ma­tion or re­gion­al­iza­tion is that a town will lose its in­di­vid­ual iden­tity mov­ing for­ward. This is es­pe­cially true in some of the smaller towns of the re­gion.

How­ever, Barnes doesn’t see it like that. He looks at Conception Bay South and the towns that fall un­der its um­brella.

He said those com­mu­ni­ties are still re­ferred to as Kel­li­grews, Seal Cove and Manuels, amongst oth­ers.

“These towns will still have their iden­ti­ties,” said Barnes.

Bet­ter chances

Barnes sees a con­cen­trated group of towns go­ing to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment for money as hav­ing a bet­ter chance of pro­duc­ing re­sults than each sep­a­rate town go­ing with hat in hand and look­ing for it.

“We se­ri­ously have to do that in the very near fu­ture,” he said.

If they went the group route and re­ceived a sum of money, it could be di­vided up amongst the par­tic­i­pat­ing towns as they needed it.

Barnes again points to CBS as an ex­am­ple. Un­der one um­brella, the town has had mul­ti­ple suc- cesses in re­ceiv­ing large amounts of fund­ing

“Conception Bay South is thriv­ing,” said Barnes. “I’d say they’re ri­val­ing St. John’s.”

Right now, the thought of amal­ga­ma­tion is just that, a thought. Amal­ga­ma­tion won’t hap­pen to­day, to­mor­row or in the next year. Barnes is look­ing for a meet- ing with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs to start.

He’d like to see how the process could un­fold and get gov­ern- ment’s thoughts on the idea.

“I think we should come to­gether as one,” said Barnes. “We’ve all got to stick to­gether.”

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