The upcoming amalgamations of municipal areas in New Brunswick have spurred many questions in the community and I also have many questions myself. My belief is that it’s time to ask the questions and provide a review of what is coming. The following are the questions that I asked and the responses that were given. Responses were prepared by Bob Rochon, member of the Entity 42 Elected Officials Advisory Committee and Mayor of the Village of Hillsborough and reviewed by Governance Reform Facilitator, Chad Peters.
The new entity will be named “Fundy Albert.” The community will legally be a village for incorporation purposes, but will, in all likelihood, simply be recognized and referred to as Fundy Albert.
What will the boundaries be?
The boundary for Fundy Albert will include the territory from the town limits of the Town of Riverview to the southernmost boundary of Fundy National Park (Lower Coverdale to Alma). I have attached a map that shows the exact entity boundaries.
When does it take effect?
All of the changes associated with governance reform will take effect on January 1, 2023. As of that date, the former incorporated municipalities will no longer be recognized as legal entities. It’s important to note, however, that people will not notice a difference in their day-to-day lives. They will continue to associate with their current community and their mailing addresses will not change.
Will there be an election prior to the entity starting?
Yes, elections will be held on November 28, 2022. Elections New Brunswick will be coordinating that process
How will different areas be represented by the current councils?
Following the municipal elections that will take place on November 28, 2022, a new municipal council with one mayor and six councilors will be sworn in. On January 1, 2023, the new municipality will become operational. The position of Mayor will be elected at large, which means that eligible voters in Fundy Albert will elect one individual. The six councilors will be elected to represent six different wards. Voters in each ward will elect one individual as their representative.
How will this affect the taxes of certain areas of the community?
We do not yet know what the impact on property taxes will be. It would be fair to say that residents who currently reside in a local service district will now contribute to the cost of certain services, including the cost of their municipal government. Residents will not have to pay for services they currently do not receive such as residential street maintenance and repairs and street lights in a currently incorporated municipality. There will be differential tax rates, depending on where you live and what services you receive.
What about the current staffing of the different villages? Will those jobs remain (i.e., clerks, maintenance, etc.) or will some of those jobs be lost?
The provincial government has stated that every reasonable effort is being made to maintain a role for existing staff within the new communities. In the exceptional circumstances that is not possible, the next principle would be to try and do so through attrition. Job loss will be a last resort.
Will there still be offices in the different communities or will there be more or less of them?
In the short term, we expect that the three incorporated municipalities will continue to offer services at their existing municipal offices. These details will be determined by the new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and any proposed changes to that will be considered and determined by the new municipal council.
How will this affect things like the current (some downright horrendous) road conditions in the different villages and the delay in getting those repairs done? Also, what about other repairs needed in the different communities? Very little will change in this regard. The responsibility for repairs to streets in currently incorporated municipalities (villages) will continue to be the responsibility of taxpayers in that community. In some cases, where the street is in an existing incorporated municipality and is a designated provincial highway, that responsibility is shared between the municipality and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. For roads and highways in local service districts, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will continue to be responsible for maintenance and repairs. I would add that, while very little will change in terms of overall responsibility, the new council should have a stronger voice when it comes to conveying residents’ concerns. Currently, a resident residing in a local service district does not have an elected representative to whom concerns can be addressed.