St. John’s mayor says amalgamation inevitable, but city to focus more on regional co-operation

Daniel MacEachern
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New report recommends St. John’s join with Mount Pearl, parts of Paradise, but acknowledges support low outside St. John’s

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe speaks with reporters Friday on tbe release of the St. John's Amalagamation Report 2011. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe says he and city council still believe in amalgamation with Paradise and Mount Pearl but, in the wake of a new review of its feasibility, will focus more on regional co-operation instead.

The city released its latest amalgamation study to the public Friday. The report — the fifth of its kind — recommends St. John’s continue to pursue amalgamation Mount Pearl as well as the Elizabeth Park, Evergreen Village and St. Anne’s Industrial Park areas of Paradise, which would bring together all lands that drain into the Waterford River basin and then into St. John’s harbour. The report says tax rates in St. John’s would initially go down as a result of amalgamation but acknowledges rates in Paradise and Mount Pearl — despite being lower in the longer term — would initially rise.

O’Keefe said Friday afternoon that given the lack of support in Paradise and Mount Pearl for amalgamation, the city will concentrate more on regional co-operation — but that amalgamation is an inevitability.

“You can read this report and you can pick at it and you can get enough information to kill the whole concept of ‘let’s all of us work together.’ Or you can look at the report and you can find more than enough material to show that on a regional basis, the coming-together, the reorganization of the St. John’s metropolitan area is going to be a benefit in a number of ways for all of us who live here.”

Paradise Mayor Ralph Wiseman dismissed the recommendations of what he said was a St. John’s-centric report, calling them “amusing.”

“What they’re looking at is taking the service area of Paradise, and the industrial park of Paradise to enrich their own coffers. That’s basically what they want to do,” he said. “So this is a St. John’s report, looking for a way to subsidize St. John’s. They should move on and deal with their own problems. If it has to do with the provincial and federal governments, they should do that. They should not be looking to the people of Paradise to pay for them, and to leave the town of Paradise high and dry without the St. Anne’s Industrial Park and any of the revenues that we’ll be getting from the Elizabeth Park area.”

Mount Pearl deputy mayor Jim Locke likewise said his city doesn’t see any benefit in amalgamation.

“Our position as a council hasn’t changed on the issue hasn’t changed. We still view it as a non-issue,” he said. “There’s no compelling evidence from our perspective as to the benefits to the residents of Mount Pearl for such an amalgamation.”, Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Geographic location: Paradise, Mount Pearl, Elizabeth Park Evergreen Village Waterford River

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Recent comments

  • brett
    January 06, 2012 - 23:37

    Of course the suburbs don't want to join. Why should they want to share the cost of the facilities in town that they use, be it roads, a larger cost for infrastructure projects (water etc), community facilities, or even compensation jobs for the travelling worker? Put a toll for coming in and out of the city and see what happens... trucks exempted. Give every St. John's citizen a permit for parking in the city and make parking available for local citizens first, preferred parking areas and see what happens... Make the 2 hour parking on side streets 15 minutes without a St. John's pass. Exempt out of province vehicles or rental vehicles from needing the permit. A bit tongue in cheek, I don't think those things should be done, but imagine the squealing. There are ways for St. John's to get its money from the "freeloading" suburbs. If some of those methods were started, I think you'd see some more interesting action. The province has to help with this, it cannot just be equal municipalities talking because some groups are currently benefiting more than others, and they won't want to give up their advantage.

  • Gerry
    January 06, 2012 - 22:17

    I feel that there should be eventual amalgamation, but it isn't 'inevitable'. It should be voted DEMOCRATICALLY on by the city-town-village residents & not left to the whims of council, provincial or federal pol-lie-ticians...not like what happened here on various parts of the mainland...

  • Do the Right Thing
    January 06, 2012 - 16:52

    Heck, give it up. What a complete joke this amalgamation talk is! Two communities that worked hard over the years building, planning, keeping costs in check, to get where they are, just give up everything to improve another who wants more. Dennis O'Keefe seems like a very good mayor, but when he rolls back to this old Andy Wells "Master Plan" talk he really sounds like a narrow-minded puppet that did not deserve a vote. This newest report is even more ridiculous, as they do not even want all of Paradise, just the money making parts. Well what about the rest of Paradise, to heck with them I guess? Let' em starve or just scrape by? Blown away how one group would so gladly drag down another just for their own benefit. I would be ashamed to even publish that report. Not that I always agree with Mayor Wiseman either, but he is totally correct here in that they need to put their time and focus on fixing their own budget and services shortcomings vs just trying to conquor other lands as a bandaid. If not, nothing will ever get fixed. Even if they hypothetically took over a new city, the same issues will eventually bleed through and everyone will lose. They do a disservice to the people of St. John's by pushing amalgamation as the solution and skirting the real problems. Also, I am still blown away at the total cronyism and stupidity of the Prov Goverment to decide to give away parts of Mount Pearl (Southlands and the Sprung area) to St. John's in the first place. It was a decision made that totally went against the best interest of the people, just for political favors. Makes no sense for anyone there: higher taxes paid for less (and more expensive to the city) services, kids schools and sports zones all messed up. In my opinion, that decision (and the parties involved) should be reviewed by the current Prov. Governement and rolled back if deemed to be the best action. I know a poll taken a few years ago of (about 50% of) Southland residents had something like 96-98% preferring Southlands to be transfered as part of Mt Pearl. (Though the first few years there they were hung out to dry on services, but heard things have improved somewhat.) It would be interesting to see what the opinions there are now. But amalgamation is about as good of an idea as New Coke!

  • billy bob
    January 06, 2012 - 15:44

    Visiting Newfoundland is like going in a time warp. The oil companies are laughing all the time at the tax breaks they get in paradise and mount pearl. Someone needs to tell Mount pearl et all to look at the bigger picture. What a joke!!! Now I understand why poeple make fun of Newfies.

  • Edmund
    January 06, 2012 - 14:51

    Here we go again, another study when everyone, except O"Keefe, seems to know the results. How much of the taxpayers money did O'Keefe waste on this study? How many more times are they going to beat this matter around and around. Totally unnecessary given that Amalgamation is a pipe dream and the sooner that O'Keefe and others dismiss this thought process the better. All three will have CITY status very soon and you can add CBS in the near future. It is about time O'Keefe woke up and listen to what others are saying instead of wanting to hear himself blabber all over the news about a dead end wish list for St. John's. He also might consider to start doing what he is paid to do - manage St. John's - that's a big enough plate (most think too big) for him to worry about. Oh yeah, by the way, I saw last night on the news that he has no problem with the occupy NL group at Harbour Side Park. I wonder what his opinion will be come the summer when the cruise ships start arriving. Go do your job O"Keefe and get them out of there now. By not doing so you suggest your support of this cause which is 100% totally against the free commerce that built and still drives the city that you are supposed to be managing and the country you live in. If you don't have the guts to do it, resign, go join them in their slum and let someone else more capable make the decision. We need proactive business professionals running our city, not tail waggers riding the prosperity of the oil and gas industry.