Cities and towns seek added powers in updated laws
Municipalities Act and Community Planning Act are being modernized
New Brunswick's cities and towns may soon have added responsibilities as they work with the provincial government on upgrading two key pieces of legislation.
The Department of Environment and Local Government is in the process of modernizing the Municipalities Act and the Community Planning Act.
Raymond Murphy, the executive director of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick, said he feels there is a new attitude in the provincial government about dealing with municipalities.
In the past, Murphy said municipalities felt like they "were dictated to" by the provincial government.
The three organizations that represent cities, towns and villages in the province have spent several years advocating for reforms to these two acts.
In September 2013, the organizations submitted a wish list of possible reforms that their members would like to see in these laws.
Some of the proposed changes would simply allow municipalities to issue tickets for people violating bylaws, such as those requiring dog owners to clean up after their pets.
"We're looking for legislation which would be similar to legislation which has been adopted throughout Canada," Murphy said.
Murphy said municipalities, which exist at the whim of the provincial government, want to be recognized as a separate "order of government" as the two sides re-examine the services each provides.
Once the reforms are made, local governments may have additional powers and responsibilities, Murphy added.
Earlier this week, a Saint John real estate agent said he would like to see property developers given a tax holiday until their units are sold.
Hodges Hamm said he thought such an incentive would encourage more construction in the city, and could actually generate more tax money in the long run.
A departmental spokesperson said there is no timeframe on when the reforms could be finished.
Murphy said it has taken several years to get this far with the provincial government and he is confident the work on updating these laws will not be lost depending on the outcome of the provincial election in September.
He said the association has been making its case for municipal reform to all of the political parties.