Re­gional gov­ern­ment way of the future: MNL rep

Con­cep­tion Bay North towns de­bate how to ap­proach shar­ing ser­vices


It’s been on the agenda for quite some time in this prov­ince, and ac­cord­ing to a Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador (MNL) staffer, re­gional gov­ern­ment is the way for­ward for towns.

“Of course, there’s been the search for fis­cal re­newal, for op­por­tu­ni­ties for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to have broader op­por­tu­ni­ties to raise rev­enue,” Kath­leen Parewick told a large au­di­ence of mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers at the Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ing last Thurs­day in Up­per Is­land Cove.

“We’re seek­ing leg­isla­tive re­forms to the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act to ad­dress a num­ber of other con­cerns. We’ve had a num­ber of wins in re­cent years, but the re­gional gov­ern­ment one has been the one that’s been on the docket for quite some time and where we see ma­jor op­por­tu­nity. We’re one of the only ju­ris­dic­tions in North Amer­ica that lacks some de­gree of an in­ter­me­di­ate gov­er­nance layer be­tween the lo­cal gov­ern­ments and the prov­ince or state. It is a crit­i­cal need.”

Parewick was in­vited to the meet­ing to of­fer some in­sight on the topic, which has been dis­cussed at length in re­cent meet­ings as the joint coun­cil de­bates whether to have towns en­gage in a plebiscite vote.

That vote would ask res­i­dents whether they want their re­spec­tive town lead­ers to en­ter talks to ex­plore re­gional gov­ern- ment op­tions.

Parewick, who specif­i­cally looks af­ter the re­gional gov­ern­ment file for MNL, views it as a means to en­hance re­sources and more ef­fi­ciently serve res­i­dents.

“Of course, we’ve had re­gional en­ti­ties in the past that have fa­cil­i­tated things for us.

You’ve got your ru­ral devel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tions, you’ve had the zone boards, you’ve had other au­thor­i­ties that func­tion in a re­gional fash­ion and al­low there to be some ral­ly­ing of re­sources to serve a small and dis­trib­uted pop­u­la­tion and pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to garner greater ser­vices … or a greater level of ser­vices for the com­mu­ni­ties.”

As part of her pre­sen­ta­tion in Up­per Is­land Cove, Parewick at­tempted to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween a re­gional gov­ern­ment and an amal­ga­mated mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the ever-present con­fu­sion at play when it comes to un­der­stand­ing these two mod­els, she pre­sented the re­gional ap­proach as a dis­tinct form of gov­ern­ment where mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are grouped to­gether un­der a re­gional, po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive struc­ture.

It would serve as an ex­tra layer of gov­ern­ment bring­ing these mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to­gether.

“We’re ba­si­cally talk­ing about a re­gional gov­ern­ment body like this where the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that ex­ist right now in the re­gion would have their rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” Parewick said. “There would be rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the pop­u­la­tions that are cur­rently not or­ga­nized as mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties — our lo­cal ser­vice dis­tricts and un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas. We’re seek­ing to main­tain a rep­re­sen­ta­tive en­tity for an en­tire re­gion if we’re go­ing to pro­ceed with that path.”

An amal­ga­mated mu­nic­i­pal­ity would elim­i­nate en­tirely pre­vi­ous coun­cils to form a new gov­ern­ment, as was the case when the nine towns in Con­cep­tion Bay South joined forces to cre­ate a new mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

For­mer C.B.S. mayor Ken McDon­ald, who now rep­re­sents the fed­eral rid­ing of Avalon, was at last Thurs­day’s meet­ing. He still lives in C.B.S.

“It has worked,” he said. “In­stead of nine com­mu­ni­ties look­ing to get some­thing from gov­ern­ment, it was one com­mu­nity, a big­ger en­tity.”

He out­right de­nied an amal­ga­mated mu­nic­i­pal­ity would re­sult in towns los­ing their iden­tity, though he did note the ex­pe­ri­ence is unique for new res­i­dents moving in.

“It doesn’t hap­pen. Peo­ple ask me where I’m from. I’m from Kel­li­grews, Con­cep­tion Bay South. Now newer peo­ple moving into the com­mu­nity don’t have that con­nec­tion with Kel­li­grews, Fox­trap, Top­sail and Seal Cove or wher­ever, but I still have it and I’ll prob­a­bly never lose that con­nec­tion.”

McDon­ald later added amal­ga­ma­tion should never be forced on a town.

Joint coun­cil mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will now de­cide whether they want to en­gage in fur­ther dis­cus­sions within a com­mit­tee on re­gional gov­ern­ment’s po­ten­tial in Con­cep­tion Bay North.

These dis­cus­sions would lead to a plebiscite vote for res­i­dents on the is­sue, though towns that agree to take part in the com­mit­tee do not have to com­mit to a plebiscite at this stage.

The com­mit­tee will likely be formed at the Feb. 23 joint coun­cil meet­ing in Har­bour Grace.

We’re ba­si­cally talk­ing about a re­gional gov­ern­ment body like this where the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that ex­ist right now in the re­gion would have their rep­re­sen­ta­tives. — Kath­leen Parewick


Ken McDon­ald, MP for the fed­eral rid­ing of Avalon, at­tended last Thurs­day’s CBN Joint Coun­cil meet­ing at the town hall in Up­per Is­land Cove.


Kath­leen Parewick is a com­mu­nity co-or­di­na­tion of­fi­cer with Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador.

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