Nfld. & Labrador

Wabush + Labrador City = Labrador West?

Bye-bye Wabush and Labrador City - hello Labrador West?

Consultant's report encourages two towns to amalgamate

Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy and Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford hug after the two councils approved a feasibility study for amalgamation in February. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A long-discussed report is complete and recommends amalgamating Wabush and Labrador City and forming a new community: Labrador West.

"I am for it. I think there is a lot of merit in what was put into the report," says Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford. 

The two councils approved having a study conducted on amalgmation in February. Now that Stantec has completed it, there is still a long way to go, Oldford admitted.

"The real work is going to start now with the new council ... the next steps are to really take this 166-page report and to really sit down with people in the community and explain it," Oldford told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

New town, lower taxes

Oldford said taxes and preserving jobs have been among the biggest concerns from residents, but the report presents a positive view on both topics. 

Taxes will be "moderately less" in the new Labrador West compared to Labrador City, and "significantly less" compared to Wabush, reads the report.

Some of those savings will come from a reduction in "overhead and operating costs," according to Stantec.

"When you look at both of our towns, they're both really well-run and both councils have been doing a really good job of keeping control of costs," said Oldford. 

Taxes and jobs have been among the biggest concerns when it comes to amalgamating Wabush and Labrador City. (CBC/Town of Labrador City)

She said that working together — and looking ahead — is also helpful when it comes to trying to ensure jobs in both towns are maintained.

"In anticipation of this report, we've already looked at our staffing models, both of our managers have, and there are vacancies that have not been filled," said Oldford.

As for layoffs or job cuts, "both town managers have committed to endeavor to retain current staff," according to the report. 

1 council, 7 members

Stantec recommended a seven-member council with "three of the six councillors elected on a ward basis to ensure at least one representative from Wabush."

Oldford says she agrees with a new report that suggests the towns amalgamate but she is not running again to be mayor. (CBC)

Oldford said there is still a lot to sort out, but she won't be in the middle of bringing the two towns together, since she is not running for re-election. 

She's optimistic about the potential for Labrador West.

"That's one thing councils will learn — you're stronger when you work together, that's my parting words for everybody," said Oldford.

With files from Labrador Morning