Local governance structure in New Brunswick

The new structure includes 77 local governments, 12 rural districts and an expanded mandate for regional service commissions.


Local Governments

A local government is elected by constituents to ensure quality services are delivered while making decisions on local matters. Services delivered include recreation, street construction and maintenance (ploughing, filling potholes), fire and police protection, and animal control.

Each local government has a council made up of a mayor and councilors who are elected through a general municipal election to represent their constituents locally. Local governments are also commonly known as municipalities (cities, towns, villages, rural communities or regional municipalities).

The vision of local governance reform is to work together for vibrant and sustainable communities and to enhance the quality of life of New Brunswickers. 

Council roles and responsibilities

A local government council is made up of the mayor, deputy mayor, and councillors. The mayor presides at all meetings of council, provides leadership to the council, speaks on issues of concern to the community, and is subject to the direction of the council. They also often serve as board members for the regional service commission.  In the absence of the mayor, or if the office of the mayor is vacant, the deputy mayor shall act in place of the mayor.

The procedural by-law for the local government lays out how the deputy mayor is selected. A councillor brings matters to the attention of council that promote the welfare and interests of the local government, takes part in developing and evaluating the policies and programs, participates in council and committee meetings and other bodies as appointed by council, and performs other duties given to them by council.  

Overall, the key role of a council (mayor and councillors) is to work together for the betterment of their community. 

What time commitment should a council member expect?

Councils are required to meet a minimum of four times per year. However, each local government is different. Typically, regular council meetings take place once per month and special meetings may take place to address urgent matters. The local government’s procedural bylaw determines the frequency of meetings. Your municipal administrator will provide you with this information. In addition, councillors may take on other roles that require an additional time commitment.   

What type of compensation is available?

Salary and other allowances are determined by council and will be specified in a by-law. 

What type of rules are there related to conduct for council members?

All local governments must have a code of conduct by-law that addresses: 

  • The values to which members of council are expected to adhere
  • The behavior of the members of council toward other members of council, officers, employees and residents of the local government;
  • The use of local government property, resources and services by members of council
  •  The use of communication tools and social media by members of council. 


Rural Districts

As a result of Local Governance Reform (LGR), as of January 1st, 2023, rural districts have been established to ensure that residents living outside local governments continue to receive important services, such as emergency measures, police, fire, land use planning, animal control, management of dangerous or unsightly premises, and solid waste management. These services are coordinated by the provincial government through a rural district manager (RDM).   

Rural districts have been established to meet another very important need: elected representation at the local level for all New Brunswickers. During engagement with residents and stakeholders in 2021, New Brunswickers stated that they wanted representatives elected at the local level for all areas, not just for those living in a local government. To meet this need, each rural district will have councillors elected to advise the Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform.   

A total of 12 rural districts are being created in New Brunswick, and they will come into effect on January 1, 2023. Residents in each rural district will be represented on their respective regional service commission (RSC) board by the RDAC Chair and in some instance by another RDAC councillor. 

The 12 rural districts in New Brunswick are as follows:  

  • Northwest rural district 
  • Restigouche rural district 
  • Chaleur rural district 
  • Acadian Peninsula rural district 
  • Greater Miramichi rural district 
  • Kent rural district 
  • Southeast rural district 
  • Kings rural district 
  • Fundy rural district  
  • Southwest rural district 
  • Capital Region rural district 
  • Western Valley rural district 

The councillors on the advisory council will represent the interests of their districts and serve as advisors to the Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform on local and regional decisions.  The Minister is responsible for the administration of the district, including the provision of local services. 

The province, through the Minister, continues to be responsible for the delivery of the following services in these rural districts: 

  • animal control,
  • dangerous or unsightly premises enforcement, 
  • emergency measures,
  • fire protection, 
  • land use planning,
  • police protection, and
  • solid waste collection and disposal.

Provincial roads located within the rural district will continue to be the responsibility of the provincial government.  Rural district councillors will be able to communicate their priorities to representatives of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure through their rural district managers.

Other services such as streetlights are voluntary and are added through Ministerial Order. Rural district advisory councils will advise the Minister through the Department’s rural district managers on local concerns and services. This important relationship will ensure that the public’s voice is heard throughout the delivery of effective and cost-efficient services to rural districts. 


The councils will be composed of a minimum of three councillors, and a maximum of six, based on a region’s rural district population. A minimum of four regular meetings must be held annually. As previously noted, the councillors will select a chair. The chair of the council will be a member of the Board of Directors of the Regional Service Commission. In instances where there are less than six members on the RSC board, a second councillor of the advisory council will be selected as a board member. Other councillors may be designated as an alternate who will replace the board member when the board member is not available. The chair will be selected through a process administered by the rural district manager.

Advisory council roles and responsibilities

  • Serve as the locally elected representatives for the constituents of the rural district; 
  • Build and sustain an effective working relationship with various stakeholders and partners to: 
    • Advise on services of the rural district;  
    • Advise on community planning matters, at the Minister’s request; 
  • Participate in advisory council meetings as required, as well as other community meetings announced by the Minister; 
  • Select a chair for the advisory committee; and 
  • The Chair will sit on the board of the Regional Service Commission (RSC). In regions where there are fewer than six voting members on the RSC board (Restigouche RSC, Chaleur RSC and Kings RSC), an additional advisory councillor will also sit on the RSC board.

Regional Service Commissions (RSCs)

Regional Service Commissions (RSCs) were established in 2012 to replace 12 solid waste commissions and 12 land use planning commissions. The work of the RSCs to has shown that residents benefit from a greater level of regional collaboration. Local governance reform recognizes that the best approach to achieving progress across the province is to give RSCs a broader mandate – one that requires elected officials and leaders to develop a regional vision and a consistent approach to addressing opportunities and challenges.  

RSCs have the potential to achieve economies of scale, offer more services at lower costs, and access specialized expertise which would not otherwise be affordable or accessible to many communities.

Under local governance reform the RSCs will now provide regional leadership in the following areas:

Economic development: Bring together business stakeholders and community leaders to provide focus for regional growth. 

Tourism promotion: Ensure coordinated regional tourism promotion.

Community development: Play an important role in ensuring a coherent regional vision and plan in areas such as affordable housing, newcomer settlement services and diversity promotion, social inclusion and health communities.

Regional transportation (community transit): Bring stakeholders and local governments together in collaboration with the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation to develop and implement strategies and services to better serve residents.

Regional infrastructure cost-sharing: Establish guidelines that will provide direction to regional service commissions on cost-sharing opportunities for sport, recreation and cultural infrastructure. Identified infrastructure costs will be shared based on a tax base and population formula. 

Additional social focus: RSCs of South-East, Fundy and Capital Region will provide a regional approach to address challenges posed by a growing vulnerable population in larger urban centres, starting in 2024.