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.”
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