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New Brunswick municipalities prepare for amalgamation amid sweeping reforms

Click to play video: 'N.B. municipal reforms getting warm welcome in some communities'
N.B. municipal reforms getting warm welcome in some communities
Watch: The municipal reforms announced in New Brunswick are getting a warm welcome in some communities. The Town of Sussex and the Village of Sussex Corner will amalgamate and hold a general election next year. This is after an unsuccessful bid to do so in 2015. Nathalie Sturgeon reports. – Nov 22, 2021

The Town of Sussex and the Village of Sussex Corner will finally come together.

As part of the municipal reforms rolled out by the provincial government, the two communities will amalgamate. It was an idea defeated narrowly in 2015.

Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne said with a new council was elected in Sussex Corner, it was clear they wanted to amalgamate the two communities.

“It comes as no surprise to the mayor and councils of both communities. We knew that once we indicated that we would like to be amalgamated it would almost be a done deal,” he said in an interview Monday.

“We knew that irrespective of whether we sent those letters or not we would likely be amalgamated because that was what this exercise was all about to find communities of interest and bring them together.”

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Sussex Corner Mayor Wayne Wilkins wrote both to the Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform and the Thorne on the idea of amalgamation prior to the white paper, he said.

Read more: N.B. mayors optimistic about municipal reform, but await details and finance reform

Thorne described the match as a natural fit.

The two communities share fire and police services. The town provides waste management and sanitation to the village as well.

He said it makes sense that the system would be similar to what was proposed in 2015 — one mayor and seven councillors with two each representing the ward of Sussex Corner and the ward of Sussex.

“Not everyone is happy with what is going to happen but in our area with Sussex and Sussex Corner I think that you’re going to see a lot of buy-in,” Thorne said.

The Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick said this is what the organization has been asking for but the road won’t be without its bumps.

Alex Scholten, the president of the organization, said there were some positives and negatives from the reforms.

He said there are particular things related to financial responsibility that need clarification, including whether some will be paying for services they don’t get or vice versa.

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Read more: New Brunswick to merge communities and slash number of local governments to 90

“It is yes, absolutely, what were asking for. Is it perfect? No. Is it good? Yes. But there are some real big questions on some zones [or] on some new communities if you will that causing some questions,” he said in an interview on Sunday.

Scholten said he’s heard from the mayor in Nackawic on his concerns about amalgamating with the nearest community — which is 26 kilometres away.

“The communities will have to start working together. We’ll see how that works and there is a need, absolutely, but the details on how this is going pan out, that really is a concern,” he said.

Elections will be held for all but five of the new entities outlined in the reform white paper next year.

Click to play video: 'Excitement and nervousness for N.B.’s municipal reform plan'
Excitement and nervousness for N.B.’s municipal reform plan

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