“There is a lot of misinformation”: Grand Bay-Westfield responds to concerns about municipal reform
A new report released by the City of Grand Bay-Westfield responds to concerns expressed by residents of the DSL of Westfield West, the rural community that will merge with the city as part of sweeping municipal reforms announced by the province in mid-November.
On November 18, the New Brunswick government released a much-anticipated white paper on municipal reform, reducing the number of local government entities in the province and forcing dozens of municipalities and rural areas to merge.
Under the changes, 75 percent of the LSD of Westfield West and the city of Grand Bay-Westfield as a whole will form a new municipal entity. In addition, a new “rural district” will be created from the Petersville and Greenwich LSDs, as well as 25% of the Westfield West DSL and 75% of the Kingston DSL.
The city’s report, written by Chief Executive Officer John Enns-Wind, details details of the municipal changes, which are expected to take effect on January 1, 2023. It notes that several residents have raised questions and concerns about the proposed changes. The report is an attempt to answer them.
“Local government reform is a much needed and appreciated endeavor, but the results tend to appeal to fewer people,” the report read. “Reform will take time and patience.
The report indicates whether taxes will increase; who will provide protective services such as police and firefighters; and whether LSD residents will lose their representation on the Fundy Regional Service Commission.
In response to a tax increase, Enns-Wind said details of the reforms have yet to be worked out, so they are still unknown.
“They can go up,” he said. “It’s not that they will, or they won’t. We just don’t know.
Another question was whether LSD residents would lose their annual funding to the Westfield and District Recreation Association. After further study of the reforms, Enns-Wind said legacy associations such as this one should continue to be supported.
“There is a lot of misinformation on Facebook,” CAO said. “At the end of the day, we want to provide the correct information. We do this realizing that there is still a lot in the air. This type of change can be anxiety-provoking for people and all we want to do is provide some certainty. ”
In a previous interview, Westfield West LSD Chairman Ray Riddell said residents of the newspaper were not happy with the proposed changes and said LSD should remain a rural community.
“We will lose our current seat on the Fundy Regional Service Commission and some of us will be represented by the mayor of Grand Bay-Westfield,” he wrote in an email. “This is very important because the (commission) acquires greater powers, such as cost-sharing of recreational and regional facilities, which was aptly rejected here after two referendums.”
He added that the former village of Westfield has seen similar changes with the city of Grand Bay and communities are still having issues.
“It’s a shocking decision for us in this LSD,” Riddell said.
As to whether LSD residents will lose representation on the Fundy Regional Service Commission, the municipal report explains that the type of representation will change.
“Rather than the president of LSD representing Westfield West, it will be the mayor of the new entity,” the report read.
Another common question is who will be responsible for road maintenance. The white paper outlining the reforms says the New Brunswick government will retain responsibility for road maintenance, but does not address residential streets and other assets, such as sewage systems and recreational assets, reads -on in the report.