Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mergers a local decision

  • Print

The Manitoba government is taking the right approach in developing a process to help small rural communities examine the possible benefits of amalgamation, but the decision ultimately rests with local ratepayers.

The province says it won't compel marginal municipalities to merge against their will, but it wants them to begin studying the issue in a serious way.

Conventional wisdom assumes that tiny communities would be stronger if they merged because they would enjoy the economies of scale that flow from larger units. The problem is municipalities claim they have studied the issue and concluded the savings would be negligible.

Local communities in Manitoba are very attached to their traditions and history, which is one reason why the province has nearly as many municipal governments -- 198 -- as it did a century ago.

Rural communities have responded to the need for efficiencies by creating regional planning boards and economic development agencies, as well as watershed districts and tax-sharing agreements.

In other words, they find savings where they make sense, but prefer to hang on to their local identities and representatives.

Rural Manitoba, today, however, is suffering from depopulation as people move from farms and small villages to larger communities. The Capital Region, for example, represents about two-thirds of the entire provincial population.

If the current trend continues, 43 incorporated municipalities could have zero residents within 40 years, according to one study. In fact, nearly half of all municipalities have less than 1,000 people, which means they wouldn't even qualify for incorporation if they applied today.

If the trend continues, some mergers will be moot, but rural communities shouldn't close their minds to the idea of amalgamation before the last door closes.

It's hard to accept, for example, that adjacent communities with only a few hundred people each wouldn't benefit from a single administration and the more efficient use of municipal equipment and staff.

The province could provide a useful service in showing how mergers might cut tax bills and improve service.

Ultimately, however, local ratepayers should have the last word on the subject, since they are the ones paying the freight.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2012 A14

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gail Asper says museum honours her father’s vision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you plan on attending any of the CMHR opening weekend events? (select all that apply)

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google