Grace Losier frustrated with commission's ineffectiveness
Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor says not a lot to show for monthly meetings in Fundy region
The chairwoman of the Fundy regional service commission says she is growing frustrated over the lack of progress its members have made over the past 16 months.
Regional service commissions were legislated by the province in 2012 as a way for municipalities and local service districts to work together.
But Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Grace Losier says more than a year after its formation, little has been accomplished among the five communities and nine local service districts that make up the Fundy regional service commission.
"We made more progress before there were regional service commissions than we have since they've been here," she said.
"With the introduction of the LSDs I think it comes down to a trust issue, and I don't think they're trusting their municipal partners, I don't think they're trusting their provincial government, I don't think there's a lot of trust there."
Losier says the lack of participation makes the monthly meetings "just a frustrating place to be."
No man is an island anymore — our success will be dependent on each other.- Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Grace Losier
"If you're not a willing partner, if you're forced to be there and your impression is [our role is] only to take your money … then it's very difficult to convince our LSD partners that what we're doing here is good for them too," said Losier.
"No man is an island anymore and what's going on in LSDs and all of our communities — our success will be dependent on each other. And that message seems to be lost."
Losier says one of the reasons the service commissions were put together in the first place was to allow for local planning. But she says many of the communities have yet to create a rural plan and aren't required to do so by the province.
"Based on what I can see, they don't want anyone telling them what to do with their property," she said.
"I would give an exception to Musquash — they completed theirs and understand that now they have a plan and know where they're going, and understand the implications of their investment. So it makes good sense to them.
"If we could move everyone onto that page, things would start to gel."
Pitches for co-operation should benefit all
Meanwhile, the City of Saint John has had some of its ideas for greater regional co-operation dismissed by those in nearby communities, including its proposal for a regional fire service.
But Losier says that doesn't mean outlying towns aren't willing to collaborate on all matters. She says the issue of fire service, for example, doesn't fall under the commission's mandate.
Losier adds that such a change should benefit all communities.
"You can't convince me there's savings for residents of Grand Bay-Westfield," said Losier. "You cannot for years say [police and fire] are the most expensive services, that there needs to be something done, and then think you can sell them to municipalities without change.
"The savings aren't supposed to flow to one person but all communities."
In August 2013, Saint John Mayor Mel Norton was pushing for more regional co-operation at the Fundy regional service commission.
He asked the commission for a report on how local communities already collaborate and ways they could collaborate more in the future.
But that idea fizzled out.
In July 2013, a bid by Saint John to explore regional policing was also spiked by the commission.