Resolution would increase autonomy for amalgamated communities

Change not likely Grand Falls-Windsor - Hawkins

Randy Edison
Published on October 6, 2014

If a resolution before the Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) general membership this weekend is approved, a formal request will be made to the province to give amalgamated communities more control over council structure.

Under the current Municipalities Act, any adjustment of municipal jurisdiction regarding creation of wards, boundaries and number of councillors per ward would require provincial government approval.

The official resolution to be considered by MNL members at the annual convention Oct. 9-11 in Corner Brook states that this requirement, “..has a detrimental impact on municipal jurisdiction and right to resign local governance according to the wishes of councillors and residents.”

Staff comments provided as supplemental background for convention attendees states, “. . . there are many well-established means of restructuring representation on council table, of which the ward system is one. That option, notable employed by the City of St. John’s, should be available to all communities.”

Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins, who also chairs the MNL committee responsible for preparing motions for presentation at the convention, told the Advertiser this item was brought forward for consideration at regional meetings involving Central area municipal representatives.

“In some situations, the ward system works,” Hawkins said. “We did have  a ward system here in Grand Falls-Windsor first when the towns amalgamated. Council looked at it and asked ‘why?’ It was really defeating the purposed of bringing communities together.

“It was something we didn’t feel was warranted in our case.”

Even if additional autonomy is gained from this resolution, Hawkins doesn’t believe the will of the people in Grand Falls-Windsor is to reinstate a ward system.

“I certainly can’t speak for others, but I don’t think we would ever go back to that system.”