Harbour Grace Mayor tables idea at CBN joint council meeting
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.
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.
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.”