January 16, 2018 4:46 pm
Updated: January 16, 2018 4:55 pm

Saint John’s common council to ask province to investigate amalgamation

WATCH: The province is being asked by Saint John Common Council to look into the possibility of amalgamating Saint John and its neighbouring communities into one regional municipality. As Andrew Cromwell reports, it’s an issue that very little political support in the suburbs.

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The “A” word is being thrown around again in Saint John.

The city’s common council has voted to ask the provincial government to take a closer look at “amalgamating” Saint John and its suburban neighbours into one regional municipality.

Coun. Ray Strowbridge has received council’s support to ask the province to take a closer look.

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Strowbridge says, to his knowledge, it has never been discussed at this level.

“We’ve looked at different bits and pieces of it but it’s never been formally looked at,” Strowbridge said.

“The pros and cons laid out on the table so everyone can make an informed decision.”

Talk surrounding amalgamation have gone on for decades in Saint John and the issue has always been a polarizing one.

Most recently, political leaders in the city’s neighbouring communities have given virtually no support to the idea.

Shirley McAlary was one of two councillors to vote against the motion, saying it’s important to work together with neighbours.

“Maybe if we were able to discuss things and prove ourselves and say that, you know, we could regionalize on certain services and that it would be beneficial,” she said.

Strowbridge does point out joining services like police, fire and municipal operations could be beneficial.

“Perhaps that could make it cheaper to buy fire trucks or bunker gear or hand guns or snow plows,” he said.

WATCH: Amalgamation not an option according to mayors of Saint John suburbs

Two Saint John residents we spoke to were split.

“If we all get together, it’s going to be a longer wait for an ambulance, the fire department, or a cop,” Cindy Jacques said.

Resident Chris Wanamaker countered: “I think it’s a really good idea for the province or somebody outside the municipality to look into it and give us an opinion about it.”

In a statement, the Department of Environment and Local Government says communities must work together “to determine if there is sufficient local interest.”

It also says that if amalgamation is supported and feasible, the minister “would need to consider sending the project to a plebiscite” in any local service districts affected.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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