I have commented on this before but it is well worth revisiting in light of attempts to merge a few communities in southeastern New Brunswick.
New Brunswick has 256 distinct municipalities ranging from the Alma Parish with five residents and the Parish of Huskisson with 49 residents up to the City of Saint John’s 68,043 (all figures from the 2006 Census and not including Indian Reservations which have a different government structure).
Over 120 of these municipalities do not even have 1,000 residents.
How do we compare with the rest of Canada?
Take a look.
A few comments on this:
The biggest problem – by far – with this is the lack of local government. Almost half of New Brunswick residents live in municipalities that are too small to have a real municipal layer of government (with a paid team of staff, etc.). Effectively, the local government functions in these communities are being run by the provincial government. I am a big believer in the importance of municipal government – effective and professional municipal government – as the layer of government that should be uniquely and exclusively focused on the development of the local community. If you cross reference these small communities and the population data – you will see a direct correlation between population decline and no real municipal government.
That’s not to say that having a municipal government ensures success – far from it – but it’s a baseline starting point. With Fredericton ‘running’ all these small communities, I fear for their survival (if the political structure of Shediac Cape becomes part of Shediac it doesn’t mean that the community of Shediac Cape disappears).
This is why I was disappointed when I saw that Premier Graham was quoted saying he will not ‘force’ amalgamation on municipalities.
That’s too bad.
Cripes. These’s a Moncton Parish with 8,000 people and no local government. What is that? Who’s looking out for its development? Who is ensuring the residents are adequately serviced? Who stands up to the province and defends the interest of these folks? The Moncton Parish is bigger (by population) than Campbellton, Grand Falls/Grand-Sault, Sackville, Shippagan, Hampton, Sussex, New Maryland, Shediac, St. Stephen, Tracadie-Sheila and Shediac – all that have functioning local government.
Change your mind, Premier.
Fix this nonsense. We are not even talking about amalgamating Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe here. While some advocate this – at least these three communities have well functioning local government.