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Government recommends changes for small municipalities
Representatives of rural municipalities in the region say they have no plans to amalgamate despite the province encouraging some RMs to do so in its recent throne speech.
In its Nov. 20 throne speech, the provincial government indicated it plans to encourage 92 municipalities with populations of less than 1,000 to join together in 2013.
The government said the threshold for becoming a municipality was set at 1,000 residents in 1997 and that nearly half of Manitoba’s 196 municipalities do not currently meet that standard.
Reeves for all of the municipalities in The Headliner’s circulation area said their councils aren’t considering amalgamation.
They say Rosser, Headingley, St. Francois Xavier, Macdonald and Cartier aren’t experiencing the population decline that is occurring in other parts of the province, thanks in part to their proximity to Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie and their appeal as bedroom communities.
Macdonald reeve Rodney Burns said he doesn’t know how smaller municipalities manage to run their offices and public works department. That concern was raised in the throne speech which stated that municipalities must be capable of effective planning, emergency preparedness and economic development.
Burns said smaller municipalities should amalgamate to better serve their residents.
"To me, attrition has to come into play here," he said.
"I think that you have to plant the seed and say: Can you find your neighbours to work with and come up with a plan?"
St. Francois Xavier reeve Roger Poitras agreed. He said that while his municipality is in good shape with about 1,300 residents, he knows some smaller municipalities are struggling to keep up with their financial audits and other administrative requirements.
"It makes good sense for them to partner with their neighbours," he said.
Minister of Local Government Ron Lemieux will address delegates at the Association of Manitoba Municipalities convention on Nov. 27 and provide more details about the amalgamation process.
In an interview prior to the throne speech, Lemieux said several larger municipalities were already discussing amalgamation.
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