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South West Coast Joint Council rejects proposed regional model plan

South West Coast Joint Council chair Peter Fenwick
South West Coast Joint Council chair Peter Fenwick

The South West Coast Joint Council says it is not outright opposed to regional government but is not in favour of the model currently being proposed by the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

In a news release Monday, the council called the model “poorly thought out” and said it “increases costs without a demonstrated increase in the quality of services.”

At its recent meeting in the local service district of Bay St. George South at McKays on Saturday, the 15 towns and local service districts expressed disapproval of the proposed model being circulated by the department, the release states.

“The biggest complaint was the enormous size of the proposed regional municipalities,” South West Coast Joint Council chair Peter Fenwick said.  

“The region for Bay St. George goes from Francois on the south coast to Cape St. George at the other end and includes over 20,000 residents and involves a 249 kilometre drive to go from one end to the other.”

The region encompassing Port au Basques goes from the Codroy Valley to La Poile, the release notes.

Community representatives at the meeting foresaw huge increases in taxes to pay for such a large municipality but couldn’t come up with any services that might be beneficial.

When Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) released its criteria for a regional municipality two years ago, it included only one quarter that number of residents and much smaller geographical areas that could share services at a reasonable cost, the release states.

According to the South West Joint Town Council, there are a large number of services already being shared presently in the region.

Those include recreation facilities in the Bay St. George area, fire services on the south coast and regional waste management for the entire western region.

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