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Municipal leaders weigh in on regional governance model

Brake-Patten
Brake-Patten - Dave Kearsey

Kippens is one of two municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador on the debt-free list.

It’s a distinction that makes Kippens Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten proud.

She takes pride in the fact the west coast town has been able to able to share a number of services with their neighbours in Stephenville and become self-sufficient with fiscal responsibility.

Mayor Debbie Brake-Patten was one of many municipal leaders talking about a regional governance model Saturday afternoon during the 2017 Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador annual general meeting and conference at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre.

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At this time, Brake-Patten said, the provincial government has not demonstrated the benefits to her town to being part of a regional government. She thinks there’s other motives for the regional government model and she doesn’t think it’s been laid out properly yet.

“If they could demonstrate to me that it would be a benefit to our town then I have no problem signing on,” she said.  “But to date, they have not educated the general public, and have not really demonstrated how they’re going to put it in place and how it’s going to benefit the municipalities.”

The provincial government is expected to implement some form of regional governance pilot project in 2019. A series of public consultations were used to find out what the people in the respective incorporated municipalities, unincorporated towns and local service districts envision in such a project.

Brake-Patten doesn’t think the government will be ready to roll out a model by 2019 with so much uncertainty in the air, despite acknowledging there are municipalities who see a lot of benefit for their taxpayers.

Norris Point Mayor Joe Reid understands both sides of the discussion and believes it’s all a matter of what a region wants at the end of the day, but the taxpayers he represents are in favour of regional services over regional governance.

 

Reid
Reid

 

He has talked to people in the town and a lot of people in surrounding communities within the confines of Gros Morne National Park and he said the general consensus is to continue on the path of sharing services with the towns which they already have agreements in place.

“Right now regional services would be the best fit for us,” he said. “We got no reason to have another level of government up here.”

Norris Point shares animal control services with the Town of Reidville and a shared approach to waste management with the Town of Rocky Harbour.

Shared services is working for the town so he doesn’t see a need to change. He understands why some towns are fighting for the regional governance concept because it’s something the municipal council feels would work for them. He believes it could work in some areas and not in others so he will wait like everybody else to see what unfolds.

“It depends on what each region wants,” he said.

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