Closer look

Dis­cussing re­gion­al­ism at Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador an­nual con­fer­ence.

The Pilot - - Front Page - BY GARY KEAN gkean@thewest­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

Pre­mier Dwight Ball says com­mu­ni­ties them­selves will de­cide the di­rec­tion re­gional gov­er­nance takes in New­found­land and Labrador.

Ball was in Corner Brook Nov. 1 for the sec­ond an­nual Pre­mier’s Fo­rum as part of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing and con­fer­ence.

Dur­ing his 10-minute ad­dress to mu­nic­i­pal rep­re­sen­ta­tives to open the four-hour fo­rum, Ball said he was look­ing for­ward to hear­ing what del­e­gates had to say about the hot topic of re­gion­al­iza­tion.

The prov­ince re­cently wrapped up a se­ries of 22 pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions to find out what in­cor­po­rated mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, lo­cal ser­vice dis­tricts and un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties would like to see in a model of re­gional gov­er­nance.

Some peo­ple walked out of the con­sul­ta­tion ses­sion held in Stephenville, charg­ing the gov­ern­ment had al­ready made up its mind about how re­gional gov­er­nance will un­fold.

The plan is for the prov­ince to im­ple­ment some form of re­gional gov­er­nance pi­lot project in 2019. While there have al­ready been roughly 700 sub­mis­sions made, con­tri­bu­tions or even mod­i­fi­ca­tions to ex­ist­ing sub­mis­sions will be ac­cepted up un­til Nov. 17.

In a me­dia scrum fol­low­ing his ad­dress and be­fore he par­tic­i­pated in the closed-door fo­rum, the pre­mier noted the idea of pur­su­ing the pi­lot project came from Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador and the vi­sion will come from the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions and this week’s con­fer­ence.

Ball said what he would pre­fer the model to look like doesn’t mat­ter.

“I never, ever saw my­self as draw­ing a ring around a bunch of com­mu­ni­ties and towns and sug­gest­ing they should col­lab­o­rate or work to­gether on shared ser­vices or a re­gion­al­iza­tion model,” he said. “I’ve al­ways felt it worked best when the com­mu­ni­ties came first with th­ese ideas.”

Even when asked what he would like to see if it was to­tally up to him, Ball would only say the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would not force any­thing on com­mu­ni­ties and that they would shape the model to be used.

“There are too many great ideas that ex­ist in that room to­day that I want to hear,” he said of the fo­rum he was about to par­take in. “I am sure they will have the fi­nal say.”

Many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are al­ready de­vel­op­ing agree­ments to share cer­tain ser­vices. The most com­mon one has been fire and emer­gency ser­vices. Oth­ers share an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cers or wa­ter ser­vices.

The pre­mier did say it’s pos­si­ble that the pi­lot project could be ap­plied dif­fer­ently to each re­gion across the prov­ince.

“We want to make sure we give the com­mu­ni­ties the flex­i­bil­ity they need to be successful,” he said.

GARY KEAN/ THE WEST­ERN STAR

Del­e­gates at the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador an­nual con­fer­ence in Corner Brook lis­tened to an ad­dress from Pre­mier Dwight Ball Nov. 1.

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