New Brunswick

Municipal leaders seek reforms in new year

Municipal leaders across New Brunswick are hoping the new year will bring some important changes to their relationship with the province and how they pay for municipal services.

Municipal associations slated to meet with New Brunswick officials in January to begin discussions

Adam Lordon, president of the Cities of New Brunswick Association and the mayor of Miramichi, says municipal reform is on his Christmas wish list. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

Municipal leaders across New Brunswick are hoping the new year will bring some important changes to their relationship with the province and how they pay for municipal services.

Representatives of the three municipal associations will meet with provincial officials in January to start discussing municipal reform.

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon, president of the Cities of New Brunswick Association, expects some of the issues his group pushed during the provincial election campaign will be on the agenda, including the property tax system.

As it stands, the association, which represents eight cities, contends city taxpayers are paying more than their fair share.

"For example, most of our neighbours are using our roads and streets every day when they come into our cities to work or our rec facilities when their children go to swimming or hockey, but they're not paying for those services in their tax rates," said Lordon.

"And so our city taxpayers are subsidizing our neighbours and, at the same time, not getting the financial support from the province for those subsidies.

"So what we're asking for is just a more fair balance of who's paying for what because the city taxpayers are paying for these services that others are using."

'We'd like to be part of the solution'

Other issues the association focused on in its Strong Cities Strong Province document include: a review of provincial arbitration legislation, a review of restrictions on cities to generate non-tax revenue, a review of the implementation of a hotel levy and a review of municipal sharing of cannabis excise tax revenue.

The association has senior staff from all eight cities working on the issues, said Lordon.

"We're not just calling for reform or demanding change from the government, we'd like to be part of the solution as well," he said.

Lordon is optimistic some changes could be implemented as early as 2019.

"We haven't really begun the conversation and it's a new government, so we'll always give everybody an opportunity to do what they say they're going to do and I do think that they seem quite action-oriented," he said.

No date set

Lordon said the government has already called for an end on the double taxation on apartment buildings, which is encouraging, but he hopes the province will take a broad look at reforms "rather than doing it piece by piece."

The presidents and executive directors of the Cities of New Brunswick Association, the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick and the francophone municipalities association will meet with Environment and Local Government Minister Jeff Carr and other government officials.

A date for the meeting has not yet been set.

The Cities of New Brunswick Association represents Bathurst, Campbellton, Dieppe, Edmundston, Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton and Saint John.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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