Rural residents say no to amalgamation
A proposal to amalgamate New Brunswick's 370 municipalities and local service districts into 54 large communities isn't sitting well with some rural residents.
Premier David Alward said in his State of the Province speech earlier this year that the province can no longer support the number of municipal bodies it currently has, calling it "unsustainable."
During the election campaign in 2010 he promised his government would revisit a report written by Jean-Guy Finn for the former Liberal government, which recommended slashing the number of municipalities.
A public meeting in Fredericton on Wednesday night drew a crowd of about 120 people, most of whom came from small communities or local service districts outside of the city.
Michelle Smith of Beaverdam, N.B. told Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch that if her community became part of New Maryland, she'd end up paying higher taxes without seeing any benefits.
"Let's be very clear here," said Smith. "The village of New Maryland is not going to run a municipal sewage line nine kilometres out Highway 101 to improve our access to a reliable sewage system."
Stan Barrett, who is the volunteer chair of the Lincoln Local Service District, said he doesn't buy the argument that amalgamation would end duplication of services and save money. He argued it would actually create an even larger civil service in New Brunswick.
"If you have 54 or whatever municipalities you're talking about, then you have to have 54 infrastructures of people that are going to be paid," said Barrett.
Jackie Cleveland of Rusagonis, N.B. told the minister holding a referendum on amalgamation wouldn't be fair, since rural areas wouldn't hold much weight because of their smaller proportion of the population.
Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch reassured the crowd there would be no forced amalgamations.
The public meeting was one of ten being held throughout New Brunswick.