DESIGN BAY SOUTH, NL – Separately, they have had their own significant breakthroughs and positive changes, and developed their own identities.
Together, the four largest municipalities on the Avalon Peninsula, which represent nearly half of the province’s population, can make even more progress, according to their elected leaders.
St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen, Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker, Conception Bay South Mayor Terry French and Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett met Thursday at the Manuals Interpretive Center to announce a collaboration between municipalities to explore regional economic development.
“If we leverage the expertise and resources that we have individually, everyone benefits,” Breen said, adding that the goal is to create regional economic opportunities and build stronger and more resilient communities. .
He said they want to position the region as a great place to live, work and do business nationally and internationally.
“Our best chance for success is to stand united, promote our individual strengths and seek collective opportunities to improve the region, increase our population and attract new investment,” said Breen, who noted that the province is a leader. leader in ocean science and oceanography. industries, in which companies can be marketed.
“We cannot look at our own small communities. We have to look for what is best for the collective, therefore market internationally, have a more focused look at the companies to attract here and feed the economy to attract new companies and provide what we have already provided – a place ideal for living. “
“Without losing our autonomy, we have to surpass ourselves and start doing things collectively. ” – Conception Bay South Mayor Terry French
Almost $ 100,000 will be spent on the collaboration. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is contributing $ 53,857 to the two-part initiative, with each of the participating municipalities contributing $ 10,000.
Phase I will see a consultant hired to review and report on the potential benefits, issues, parameters and opportunities of a regional economic development framework for the four participating municipalities.
Municipalities have often cooperated and shared resources over the past decades for a variety of reasons, including fire protection, potable water, sewage treatment, and waste management.
Recently, following an idea from Breen, the four mayors met monthly to discuss various topics, including economic recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
They say it makes sense to explore this regional approach further.
“It’s a good time to sit down and look at the frame, where we can find things in common,” Aker said. “We can move forward together and (look) in what ways and in what areas.”
French said the collaboration opens a wave of resources to municipalities that may not have been available before. He said it will be helpful in sharing costs, information and services.
“When neighbors work together, it’s the community as a whole that definitely benefits,” said French, who noted that the provincial and federal governments encourage municipalities to work together to overcome challenges.
“Our municipalities have opened the door to find out what we can accomplish together,” he said.
“The future calls for innovative ideas and solutions to challenges. “
He later said that there is no better time to come together than during these tough economic times.
“Without losing our autonomy, we must surpass ourselves and start doing things collectively,” said French, who is the only one of the four mayors not to stand for re-election in September.
Bobbett said regionalization does not mean the loss of individual identities.
“Day after day, without perhaps realizing it, our citizens collectively support all of our municipalities, so exploring a regional economic development approach is a logical next step. “– The Mayor of Paradise, Dan Bobbett
He said many people in the area live in one municipality and work in another, while sports teams share facilities and support businesses in all communities.
“Day in and day out, without perhaps realizing it, our residents collectively support all of our municipalities, so exploring a regional economic development approach is a logical next step,” said Bobbett.
In Phase I, the consultant will carry out research and analysis to summarize activities of mutual interest, identify possible problems and define opportunities for a regional framework. Once Phase I is complete, which is estimated to be December 1, participating municipalities will review and assess the findings to determine if the project will move to Phase II. A second phase would examine options and recommendations for a possible regional economic development framework.
The project is led by a steering committee which includes the mayor of each municipality and a working committee composed of municipal executives who will guide the work of the project and the consultant. The consultant will be hired through an open public tendering process, which is expected to launch this week as part of the City of St. John’s tendering process.
“From my perspective, this is the first step in a lot of things,” French said, adding that issues such as highways and recreational facilities could be discussed in the future.
“It’s the beginning. We are revolutionaries here. So hopefully this will be a mindset that lasts for decades. “
Rosie Mullaley is a journalist in St. John’s covering municipal affairs.