A committee of municipal leaders and provincial government appointees will spend the next four months considering ways to reform the Municipalities Act to give cities, towns and villages more power.

The Municipalities Act sets out the rules under which cities, towns and villages operate.

Under the existing law, New Brunswick municipalities cannot impose hotel taxes or change the speed limit on a provincially-designated street.


Moncton Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said cities want greater powers. ((CBC))

New Brunswick municipalities have relatively few powers when compared to the rest of the country.

Moncton Coun. Daniel Bourgeois said municipalities in this province should not have to request a vote in the legislature every time they want to make local changes.

"If you want to do a hotel levy you have to ask the province for permission," he said.

"And it's been 15 years that the municipalities, especially the cities, have asked the province for permissive legislation, 15 years, and they still haven't given us the ability to do it."

The Department of Local Government is looking at introducing reforms to the Municipalities Act by the middle of next year as part of its Action Plan for New Local Governance.

Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced a series of governance reforms in 2011.

Saint John committee

Saint John council has created a working group to push for changes to the Municipalities Act.

Saint John Coun. Donna Reardon pointed to another problem that municipalities have had with the current Municipalities Act.

The city spent years trying to win rights to demolish derelict buildings, something that required a vote in the legislature.

Reardon said she wants the act opened up to give councils greater powers.

"I am ready to become as autonomous as possible and rather than striving for an inch I say we go for a mile. I'm ready for this," she said.