BARTLETT’S HARBOUR, NL – Regional government is not a popular idea amongst local service districts and unincorporated towns.
And mayors in support of it know it’s going to take a lot of work convincing those residents of its virtues.
However, Bill Myers of Bartlett’s Harbour, a local service district (LSD), needs no convincing.
Myers believes a regional government could achieve things for the town that he says the LSD has been incapable of doing.
He says the town has been unable to install a playground.
And he cites an example of the three boats in the harbour that he says the LSD has been unable to remove.
This is a situation he believes a municipal or regional council could do more to alleviate.
“Something in the LSD groups are not like the council,” said Myers. “The councils seem to be more accountable to the people they serve.”
He claims groups like the LSD board have been able to raise a lot of money but have been unwilling to spend it for the town.
Myers feels the situation is dire and urgent.
“The community I’m from is a dead community,” he said. “If we could hook up with a regional government then we may start to survive.”
If not a regional government, Myers says he’d like to see an ombudsman hired on by the provincial government to report on how LSD boards are doing.
Andre Myers of Bird Cove, Keith Billard of Flower’s Cove and Gerry Gros of Anchor Point are three nearby mayors who have been advocates for regional government.
However, they believe communities will be hesitant because of current benefits like free paving and snow removal, and regional government is likely something the provincial government would have to enforce on these towns.
But the word they have received from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment is that this decision will be left to residents of the LSDs and unincorporated towns. However, the mayors believe there would be benefits for theses areas.
Andre Myers says it would create a bigger voice in numbers.
He believes the voice of a regional government of, for example, 2,000 people would be much stronger than that of a town of 200 when advocating for services.
Furthermore, Myers and Gros point out that it could bring improvements to water supply, wastewater and other municipal services to these communities.
And Myers says it needs to be demonstrated to them that they’ll be paying basically the same thing as they’re paying now.
He believes convincing them of this will be the only way they will support regionalization.
In the meantime, Gros says the municipal councils intend on continuing to pressure provincial government to entice the LSDs and unincorporated towns on regional government.