Looks like New Brunswick will be getting some municipal reform. There will be a lot of debate about it. It will probably get nasty so here are a few points to remember:

  • Remember that it isn’t just about amalgamations, they are proposing to add a 4th level of government that will be between the provincial and municipal levels. Some provincial responsibilities will be downloaded onto the new regional government while some municipal responsibilities will be uploaded to it. This will still allow some autonomy for each community.
  • The status quo is not OK. That should not be the starting point of any debate. People in the cities, suburbs and the country are all stating that the current system is broken.
  • Don’t use this as a platform to bash people who don’t share your lifestyle views. A “suburban freeloader” has the same right to an opinion as an “inner city elite”.
  • If you live outside of a city, don’t claim that you are paying your fair share by shopping in the city. The property taxes for that business won’t even come close to paying for the infrastructure you had to use to get there.
  • Remember that no idealism can beat basic economics. Land in the city is expensive and limited, land outside is cheap and plentiful. You can only buy what you can afford.
  • We won’t just be seeing an urban vs rural divide, we’ll be seeing urban vs suburban vs rural divides.
  • As the price of oil (and energy in general) rises, so does the cost of providing municipal services. The taxes in lower density rural areas will go up more than urban areas. This is going to happen with or without municipal reform.
  • In an idealistic world, we would all live in densely built communities and not drive cars. This isn’t going to happen around here any time soon and it won’t be achieved through municipal reform.
  • Everybody‘s taxes will be going up. The temptation for a provincial government with a large deficit to download services will be too difficult to resist.

This will be a difficult subject and will be unpopular with most residents of NB, but it will be for the better in the end.