Dispute over local government reform between N.B. councillors spills onto Twitter

Click to play video: 'Rejected budget creates divide between southern New Brunswick communities'
Rejected budget creates divide between southern New Brunswick communities
WATCH: A rejected budget has created a divide between communities in southern New Brunswick. It’s escalated into a war over lost emails that has two councillors taking their beef to Twitter. Zack Power reports. – Oct 20, 2022

You won’t have to go far nowadays to learn how your local municipal councillor feels about a topic.

On Wednesday, a feud between the City of Saint John and the Town of Quispamsis blew onto Twitter when a thread between two city councillors showed the two arguing over local government reform.

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At one point, Saint John city councillor Brent Harris replied to Quispamsis town councillor Noah Donovan.

“Your police bring your homeless and addicted to our streets yet you don’t support our police. Your commuters work in our high paying jobs yet you don’t pay for our streets,” Harris wrote.

“You bennefit (sic) off the business we draw yet you fund the least amount toward economic development in NB.”

On Tuesday at a town council meeting in Quispamsis, the council noted that they were looking for records from the City of Saint John examining four major regional facilities with a bill of $17.3 million over the next 10 years: the TD Centre costing $11 million, and the rest split between the Canada Games aquatic centre, the arts centre and the convention centre.

In an interview with Global News, City of Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon said that the financial statement was sent long before Tuesday’s council meeting in Quispamsis.

“That information was sent out several weeks ago to all the CAO’s, including their Regional Service Commission. So they should have that information, and it will be sent out again today as a repeat,” Reardon said.

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She says that the City of Saint John has been doing asset mapping since at least 2012 and that that system has been helping them manage how money is spent throughout the city.

On Thursday, Noah Donovan said that the Town of Quispamsis is merely looking for clarity on the subject, and with money fronted and little stake, they want to make sure they won’t be on the hook if the City of Saint John pulls the plug.

“I think the general thought is for right now is that in the past few years, that the City of Saint John has been neglecting some of their facilities,” Donovan said.

“Whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally through a lack of funds, now that the government is pushing capital costs on us, we’re going to able to fix some of those facilities for them.”

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On Thursday, the City of Saint John extended an olive branch 20 km down the road to Quispamsis, noting that working collectively is how they’ll be able to keep costs down and create better services.

“In order for our region to grow to its full potential, we need to come together and take advantage of regionalizing many services not saying that we are but not paying a fair share,” Saint John councillor Paula Radwan said on Twitter.

“I think we can be so much better and stronger if we work together,” said Reardon. “I think we need to understand where our bread is buttered at the end of the day and how can we support each other going forward.”

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