Some St. George residents are upset with the lack of information being provided on the new local government reforms for “Area 53.” These reforms will have a significant impact on our communities and we deserve to know how these changes will affect our lives.
What was once incorporated municipalities and rural communities will no longer be. The communities of St. George, Back Bay, Bonny River, St. Patrick, Utopia, Pennfield, Seeyles Cove, Beaver Harbour and Blacks Harbour will soon be incorporated into a new identity and be known as “Entity 53.”
A handful of people and a government appointed facilitator are in charge of choosing a new method of governance, creating new taxation methods, deciding new community boundary lines, selecting a new regional name, appointing new administration staff, and preparing operating budgets. This will all be in place by August 2022.
We are not saying reform is a bad thing or a good thing. We are saying our 6,700 residents who live in “Area 53” deserve some transparency. These reforms are being rushed upon us and we have had little to no community communication and participation. We deserve the right to have input in what will determine our long-term future.
Minister of Local Government and Local Governance Reform Daniel Allain’s statement in saying people have had many previous opportunities to respond to these reforms has not been the case here in St. George. We have had two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, without the ability for public meetings. Emails and letters from concerned citizens to elected representatives continue to go unanswered and those in charge do not want to share information.
I urge these representatives for “Area 53” to immediately create an information website and give residents a 30-day opportunity for input. You may be pleasantly surprised with the response.
David Armstrong is with the Concerned Resident Group of St. George.