The Regional Government Initiative is an MNL organized and led effort to create discussion on and momentum for municipal reform. Launched at MNL's 2010 Municipal Symposium with the release of three regional government discussion papers, MNL wants to engage its member municipalities in considering viable alternatives to change our current municipal system. One of these options, and one MNL thinks should strongly be considered, is regional government.
The current status and capacity of many municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador is not very good. Municipalities are asked to do more with less - less money, less people, and less resources. The importance of municipalities has not diminished (if anything it has increased), but municipalities are increasingly constrained in their ability to respond to the specific needs of their residents. This is not the fault of municipalities, they do their best with their limited resources, rather it is the result of the municipal system that was created many decades ago.
Our current municipal system has remained largely the same for more than 60 years. But as everyone knows, Newfoundland and Labrador has undergone drastic changes in this period of time. Even within the past 20 years we have seen significant changes in our province, specifically as a result of the cod moratorium and the emergence of our energy sector. Our municipalities, perhaps more than any other institution, are affected by these changes. They are affected by the changed expectations of their residents, by the mobility of a modern society, and by shifts in the economic priorities of their regions.
But while the environment in which municipalities operate has changed, and continues to change, our system of municipal government has not changed. This has resulted in the continuation of a municipal system that is based on a time when the fishery was king in the province and the provincial government provided significant financial support.
So, it is time that we begin consideration on reforming our local government system. It is time that we considered a system that will build municipal capacity; a system that will allow municipalities to benefit and control from services they could not provide in the past; a system that can provide regional responses to issues that require regional responses; a system that gives municipalities a stronger voice; and a system that is flexible to account for the different capacities and concerns of municipalities.
MNL is suggesting that a regional government system could provide us with the system that municipalities need. We have written three papers to this effect. We kindly ask that everyone read them, particularly municipal leaders, and provide us with the feedback that is necessary to move this debate forward. Electronic copies of the paper are available on the links below.
Volume 1: Continuities and Discontinuities
Volume 2: Searching for a Purpose
Volume 3: The Umbrella of Protection
2010 MNL Symposium Presentation
Regional Government Workbooks for each region are available to be viewed and printed on the links below:
West Coast-South West Coast Workbook
The Regional Government Workbook can now be completed online through the following link: