Dwight Ball says the Liberal Party would not impose changes to municipal government upon the province, but it would certainly entertain proposals to do so.
“Any change in terms of governance would be done with the consent and cooperation of communities and (Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador) being the major body in the province that represents most of our incorporated communities,” Ball said Friday, following recent comments made by Liberal St. Barbe MHA Jim Bennett.
Bennett said he predicts a big change in municipal governance in this province. He said he expects changes in the way they are funded, but also suggested a regional municipal governance or county system would work.
The Liberal leader said Bennett was expressing his own opinions to municipal representatives in a public forum. Ball said party policies will be determined during its annual convention in Gander June 13-14.
“We don’t really see imposing any type of specific framework or governance on any of the communities, but we always encourage cooperation,” he said. “We have seen it. We have had good experience with that around the province.”
Ball said communities who come together to promote their economies and make them more sustainable need to be rewarded.
“If we saw desire amongst communities to find efficiencies in operations and services is always something you would encourage,” he said. “No matter what level of government that would be the case. It could be at the provincial level, within departments, or communities.”
Government is currently undertaking a provincial-municipal fiscal framework review. Bennett said there must be some changes in the way municipalities are funded, including a flexible capital works program.
Ball said the biggest obstacle he hears from municipal representatives is being able to access funding for large projects, such as water and sewer.
The leader has committed to holding annual premier forums, if the Liberals take over government. During such forums, he said he would seek solutions to such challenges.