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.”