New Brunswick

3 mayors band together to get province's attention on big issues

The mayors of the three largest cities in New Brunswick have struck the Tri-Cities Mayors Group to increase their visibility when the province makes big decisions affecting municipalities.

Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton mayors want say in certain New Brunswick government decisions

Mike O'Brien says the Tri-Cities Mayors Group was formed because the province often doesn't consult municipalities on issues that affect them. (Lauren Bird/CBC)

The mayors of Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton have formed the Tri-Cities Mayors Group to increase their say in provincial decisions.

The three mayors signed a non-binding legal document to create what Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien said signals "a new relationship."

"The day is gone that decisions can just come from, say, the premier's office or the cabinet without even asking for input for the mayors, and in particular the mayors of the three largest cities," O'Brien told Information Morning Fredericton.

He said the partnership is a response to the province's lack of consultation on major decisions affecting municipalities.

Left out

Saint John is one of the three New Brunswick cities looking for more representation in provincial decisions. (Julia Wright / CBC)

The Liberal government's decision to freeze property taxes is just one example of municipalities being denied a voice, O'Brien said.

"When the province came out this year on their major economic drivers — I think it was 10 different files that they were going to focus on in the province — they didn't ask for input," he said. "A lot of those activities are going to happen in the municipalities."

He said the mayors would at least like to be consulted on such decisions or asked for feedback in a formal way.

Each city's council has endorsed the Tri-Cities Mayors Group, with Fredericton passing a motion to support it Tuesday.

Hidden experts

O'Brien said some of the country's finest municipal staff work in New Brunswick and could offer meaningful strategies for the province to overcome economic shortcomings.

The fact is, if the mayors of the three largest cities can find real common ground and have a common voice, I think it would be irresponsible of the province not to listen to us.- Mike O'Brien, Fredericton mayor

"Look at the economic development generation that comes out of the three largest cities," he said. "Look at the way we in the City of Fredericton were able to find $8 million in annualized savings through process improvement.

"Look at the way we've been able to deal with things as the federal government downloads to the province and the province downloads to the municipalities."

O'Brien said he hopes he, Saint John Mayor Don Darling and Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold will be able use this group as a foothold in the future.

"The fact is, if the mayors of the three largest cities can find real common ground and have a common voice, I think it would be irresponsible of the province not to listen to us."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton