Co-operation essential

Colin MacLean
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Research project says towns must work together to flourish

If the communities of the Northeast Avalon want to continue to flourish they must be willing to increase their level of co-operation, according to a research project.

This advice comes from the recent project by the Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, part of which was presented Thursday night at a Memorial Presents event in Conception Harbour.

This area of the province is quickly approaching a time when not increasing co-operation at all levels of government would be extremely unwise, said Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre and one of several people who authored the project.

“There are so many issues facing people who live in neighbouring communities and throughout the region that demand intermunicipal co-operation and regional co-operation. ... There’s nothing theoretical or esoteric or wannabe about it. It’s must do if we’re going to live in a way that we don’t have complete gridlock,” said Greenwood.

He, along with co-author Kelly Vodden, assistant professor of geography at MUN, painted a picture for their audience of evolving communities without, or nearly without traditional boundaries.

Many families might live in one community, but they may go to the bank or buy groceries in another. Municipal lines are quickly loosing their importance, said Greenwood.

With that much interconnectivity between towns, cities and rural areas, the need for municipalities to work together on shared issues is only becoming more prevalent, he said. 

“Municipalities are increasingly recognizing the benefits of working together in joint planning, service provision and economic development, as citizens live their lives working in one community, shopping in another, using sports and recreation facilities in another and living in another,” Greenwood stated earlier in a news release.

“Social organizations, industry associations and every other type of business or group are also trying to adapt to this constantly evolving reality,” he said.

Their presentation was called Regional Co-operation in the Northeast Avalon: What Does the Future Hold? The answer, in Vodden’s opinion, is reason to be optimistic.

“You can expect the debate to continue. But I also think that you can expect more regional co-operation not only in the North East Avalon, but across the province.”

“But also continued debate and discussion, sometimes heated discussion, about what that should look like.”

These are not new themes, added Greenwood, and in many cases organizations and municipalities are doing excellent work in co-operating in some areas.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s loads of examples of innovation happening around the province and I think that’s going to be adapted.”

Organizations: Leslie Harris Centre, Regional Co

Geographic location: Northeast Avalon, Conception Harbour.This, Vodden North East Avalon

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Recent comments

  • just me
    April 15, 2011 - 21:40

    I agree more with regional co-operation than amalgamation. This area is in a very similar situation that Edmonton and surrounding towns found themselves in in the 60’s. At that time there was also a new oil boom. After amalgamation residential taxes decreased by about a third, property values increased, infrastructure improvements cost less, and schools were usually better equipped. However, business taxes increased dramatically and the absorbed communities still didn't get all the services they desired. The advantages of amalgamation are: 1) Efficiencies in purchasing. 2) Administration can be structured into specialized departments, such as accounting, utilities and legal, which would make these services more efficient. 3) There would be more continuity in the community since everyone would be receiving the same service. 4) It would eliminate excess paperwork that currently takes place between each municipality. 5) Less duplication of work and jobs. 6) Less need for contracting out of services could make the structure more cost efficient. 7) Continuity in enforcing bylaws. 8) A centralized administration location could be more economical. 9) Human resource costs for a centralized administration would be virtually the same as the existing costs with a more efficient structure to offer the residents. The disadvantages are: 1) Where would a central administration office be located? 2) What would happen to existing administration buildings? 3) Since similar positions exist in the municipalities, there would have to be a new management and staff job restructuring, and this would mean there would be some adjustment problems. 4) Some residents would be resistant to what they perceive as a loss of identity and personal attention by elected officials and staff. I’m sure there are many other pros and cons I could dig up. Ultimately, the economics of having no industry to offset expenditures and the ever increasing costs of infrastructure will determine who amalgamates and who doesn’t. Our governments might want to consider a referendum on the issue before pure economics forces it down our throats.

  • luke
    April 15, 2011 - 20:56

    Amalgamation should and will happen. Mount pearl is completely landlocked and is running out of room to expand, they're running out of options. Of course things are better in Mount Pearl...taxes are lower...taxes will be lower when there aren't any hospitals, colleges, etc. I'd say once St. John's gets its books in check, amalgamate everything from Pouch Cove to Foxtrap. That way we won't have duplication of services (do we really need 3 Mile-One type stadiums for 200,000 people?)

  • Peter
    April 15, 2011 - 13:29

    Municipalities already work together. If there was just one Council, what options would the citizens have to compare fairness and efficiency?? If one Town is inefficient and unjust, at least a citizen can move to another. Once we have the Super City, we are stuck with it! For example take the very high price of Water Services. Do we need municipal amalgamation to operate this as a true Public Utility – pay for use. So which town on the NE Avalon meters water consumption? They even charge the FULL rate to those that have wells on a services rural road and do not need to connect! Not even a tax credit for utilizing ground water for non-potable applications. This “think tank” has not thought this thing through. A super City on the Avalon would have a greater population than PEI, with NO parliament!! Do Municipal Corporations have Constitutional Powers? Are the Citizen’s voting rights Charter Protected? It is the fundamental concept of Municipal Governments that needs some thinking. Making them bigger solves nothing. Let the political and business interests in St. John’s do their own lobbying!

  • Tony
    April 15, 2011 - 12:59

    Call someone you know in Halifax and ask them if it works..Big is not necessarily better..I do agree with St John's & Mount Pearl. bigger than that.. CBC and the several surrounding communities could also do it.

  • Ed McCann
    April 15, 2011 - 11:17

    I heard Woody French last week lobbying for a new stadium for his town, Simms wants a new stadium for his town, some other mayor on the NE Avalon are seeking infrastructure for their towns etc. Planning without structure or coordination. One word solution, "amalgamation". It will happen, it must happen so lets get it done.

  • Calvin
    April 15, 2011 - 11:15

    For one thing, get it right posters, it is not the RESIDENTS of St. John's looking for the advantages amalgamation would offer, but St. John's COUNCILLORS. Also, FRUSTRATING is right, whether you Mt Pearlians and Pardisians want to admit it or not, your communities do feed off of St. John's services. If St. John's closed down sewer connectios to Mt Pearl tomorrow, do you know how much it would cost to create your own independent sewer system? And sure, you have great garbage and snow removal, where are you dumping all your snow and garbage? Metrobus, townie service that you are taking advantage of. MUN, CONA, Marine.... do all you Mt Pearl, Paradise, CBS residents who attend these places just drop from the sky into these parking lots in the morning? No, you drive over St. John's roads. Avalon Mall, Health Science, Confed Building, same story. The list goes on, amalgamation is coming whther you like it or not. Of course I am a born and bred baymen so I don't really care, but get your heads of of your......... pants.

  • Frustrating
    April 15, 2011 - 09:36

    The only reason that Mount Pearl has lower taxes is that their citizens are taking advantage of St.John's services. Water/Garbage Disposal/Parks/Recreation/Recycling/Sewer/Road Network/Public Transportation.... If St.John's stopped Mount Pearl from using these services, and Mount Pearl had to develop them themselves, how much would their taxes go up? Sure.. Mount Pearl pays St.John's for 'some' of these services, but it is certainly at a discount compared to what it would actually cost. Mount Pearl always waits for St.John's to announce their Property Tax/Water Tax/Mill rate so that they can keep theirs lower. They do this because it is their main argument against amalgamation. Amalgamation is the only answer for such a growing community as the North East Avalon. Mount Pearl... St.John's Ward 6

    • Taxpayer
      April 15, 2011 - 10:11

      The problem is, St. John's is in so much debt because it's councillors couldn't manage a lemonade stand and it needs someone, any one to bail them out. It is frustrating that the residents of Sin John's can't, due to limited intellect, understand that the province is driving the intergration of these services. I am waiting for Sin John's to announce that it is amalgamating with St. Anthony then they can change the name of the province from Newfoundland to Sin John's.

  • silly willy
    April 15, 2011 - 08:50

    Why is amalgamation needed? Who is demanding it? Mount Pearl residents will gain nothing except to have their taxes raised and have their tax dollars go to the infrastructure, Mile One Centre, salaries and pensions of St. John's. Think about it! Mopunt Pearl is doing quite well all by itself. We already have better roads with less potholes, better garbage and snow removal.

  • Political Watcher
    April 15, 2011 - 08:12

    Clear indication that we need amalgamation: Dep. Mayor Locke, Mount Pearl, attends a conference in Victoria, B.C. and returns to tell us he has all the answers to our road paint "blues", they use paint that lasts several years. Now, if we had a climate like Victoria's I would say good job, but we don't and this will prove worthless. Now, this may not be grounds for amalgamation but knowing that the city of St. John's has been testing this paint for a few years is. Here we have two municipalities only fet apart and yet, Mount Pearl has to travel over 5000kms and grat expene to get the same answer they could have gotten over a phone call; better yet, show a good gesture and take a Townie for a coffee. Smaller Municipalities look to serve their elected officials more than their residents and this is yet again another example. Remember last year when Mount Parl sent three to an "enclosed mall" conference. Need I say more?