Municipal associations calling for changes to Bill 45, The Local Government Commission Act
June 7th, 2023
Fredericton, N.B. – With the Local Government Commission Act headed back to committee this week, the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick (UMNB), Association Francophone des Municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick (AFMNB), and the Cities of New Brunswick Association (CNBA) are collectively calling for changes to the bill.
Last week, the associations sent a joint letter to the Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform calling for a pause on Bill 45 until a discussion could take place with municipalities regarding the proposed changes. Those proposed changes included the minister’s ability to repeal or amend all municipal by-laws, the ability of the commission to access in-camera documentation, and how the costs related to investigations will be handled.
“Our associations support the minister’s comments that some new municipalities may require guidance regarding the development and implementation of by-laws or even additional oversight on their audited statements” said Alex Scholten, past president UMNB. “However, the same cannot be said for those communities that have been operating under municipal governance laws for decades. Imposing such requirements on the more established municipalities would simply create inefficiencies and increased costs that will not support the goal of creating vibrant and sustainable communities. We would hope the minister would have sufficient confidence in their governance to oversee such matters as they have done for years. It will be critical for the commission to be precise, otherwise it risks punishing communities that have decades of experience.”
The recognition that some communities need extra guidance and support is an important opportunity for the department to provide extra funding in support of these communities and to help them ensure they can avoid the commission, and make better decisions now for their new area.
“By providing more support to those communities who are in start-up mode, the government can ensure that their by-laws are in line with the Local Government Act and the Community Planning Act. Investing in these communities up front as opposed to through the commission is a much better way to proceed” said Yvon Godin, President of the AFMNB. “We know there are bumps in the road, and it makes sense to address those now, not when the commission is in place next year.”
The minister also stated earlier this week in the media that he would be bringing further amendments to Bill 45. This will hopefully bring additional clarity to the legislation.
“We appreciate the willingness of the minister to introduce further changes to the Bill, but are disappointed to see the government push this legislation through with minimal consultations with our members. Local governments need to be partners in all things that affect our communities, including the creation of a commission that is intended to work for us” said Adam Lordon, President of the CNBA.
Together, the three associations want to ensure that they are at the table to ensure the regulations actually protect municipal autonomy and that this commission works in the best interests of all municipalities. In the coming days, the three associations will be communicating with the departments their vision for the commission along with the next steps in the process.
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