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Saint John Mayor Mel Norton says the Moncton area is kicking the city's "proverbial butts" due to collaboration there. (CBC)

A second attempt by Saint John Mayor Mel Norton to strengthen regional co-operation has been lost.

Last month, Norton had hoped to look at regional policing, but was soundly defeated at the Fundy Regional Service Commission.

On Tuesday, he asked the commission for a report on how local communities already collaborate and ways they could collaborate more in the future.

But some commission members, such as Joan Seeley, who represents the local service district of Simonds, seemed suspicious of the idea.

"When I read that motion, I couldn't help but think about amalgamation," she said.

Saint John "has no plans to amalgamate," assured Norton.

"Moncton is kicking our proverbial butts six ways from Sunday, and they've been doing that for a long time because they've been collaborating and co-operating," he said. "And the City of Halifax is doing the same thing."

Rothesay, Grand Bay-Westfield and St. Martins all voted in favour of the report.

But Quispamsis — the second largest community — and the local service districts all voted against, despite assurances from Norton that amalgamation is not the goal.

In the end, the commission agreed to a watered down motion from Quispamsis Mayor Murray Driscoll that looks simply at ways the communities already cooperate, leaving out the bit about future opportunities.

"We're going to keep at this," said Norton. "I am not going to lose courage on this. I am not going to lose faith."