Local governance reform engagement summary released09 September 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has released its What We Heard document, summarizing themes from feedback obtained during the local governance reform engagement process.
Public and stakeholder engagement took place following the April release of a green paper on local governance reform, Working Together for Vibrant and Sustainable Communities.
About 1,100 people took part in 25 engagement sessions during the spring and summer. As well, the Department of Environment and Local Government received 120 briefs and about 120 emails, and more than 1,200 people took part in an online survey.
“It is great to see such a high level of participation from local service districts, regional service commissions and local government representatives, as well as stakeholder groups and the general public,” said Local Government and Local Governance Reform Minister Daniel Allain. “Along with the formal sessions, I have held about 140 informal meetings, virtually or in person, while following Public Health guidelines.”
While all the information received was reviewed, the document is not a verbatim account. It outlines the main themes of the submissions and highlights information from working committees, briefs, survey responses, emails and informal meetings.
Discussion revolved around the four main engagement pillars:
- the current local governance structure
- regional collaboration
- land-use planning
- financing the local governance system
“There were mixed opinions with regard to structure, however we heard support for ensuring all residents of the province have some form of local government representation through a democratic vote,” said Allain. “Currently, about 30 per cent of New Brunswickers do not have such representation.”
With respect to regional collaboration, several concepts for regional service delivery were presented. The three most often discussed were economic and community development, tourism and regional recreational infrastructure.
There were calls for better land-use planning, ensuring the right developments are allowed in the right places. Many respondents wanted to see the provincial government maintain a leadership role in development issues to ensure the interests of individual property owners are balanced with the wider needs of the community while protecting the environment.
The government will explore options for financing the system, factoring in fairness and equity. Many people stated they want to pay for services they can access and not be responsible for services not available in their areas.
There will be eight in-person meetings in September to discuss the What We Heard document. Participants must register online in advance as space is limited. A white paper will be released this fall.
“I look forward to engaging with more New Brunswickers as we pursue local governance reform,” said Allain.
More information on the local governance reform process is available online.