Mayors push for new powers in Municipalities Act reform
Municipalities seek changes to make them more agile and powerful
Many New Brunswick municipalities are pushing for legislative changes that would give them the authority to write tickets for more than just parking violations.
The Cities of New Brunswick Association, Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick and the Association of francophone municipalities are collecting a wish list of potential reforms they would like to see made to the Municipalities Act.
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.
Saint John Mayor Mel Norton said he and city officials are often asked why they don’t issue a ticket to people who don’t stop to scoop.
"We can't do that because we don't have, in part, the legislative authority to do that," he said.
The three municipal organizations will submit their proposals to the Department of Environment and Local Government in a few weeks. The department has promised to update the Municipalities Act, which sets out the powers of local councils.
Frederick Dion, the executive director of the Association of francophone municipalities, said municipalities in his organization will ask the province for more "permissive" legislation, which would allow them to make changes in areas that do not concern the federal or provincial governments.
Dion said if the reforms are granted they would make municipalities more agile and more powerful.
He said much of the pressure for change is coming from citizens, who are demanding more services from their local governments.
"Citizens are more, let’s say, critics of the quality of the services they receive; they ask [for] more," he said.
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.
A committee of municipal leaders and provincial government appointees has also been reviewing potential changes to the act.