New Brunswick legislation aims to empower local governments
The provincial government will introduce two new acts, the Local Governance Act and the Community Planning Act, which will replace the current Municipalities Act and Community Planning Act. Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle will introduce the two bills in the legislature today.
“The new acts will bring New Brunswick’s local governance legislation in line with that of most other Canadian jurisdictions,” said Rousselle. “This is a long-overdue replacement and, in moving forward, we are getting things done for New Brunswickers.”
The legislative changes are meant to ensure appropriate, effective powers and responsibilities of local governance. The modernized legislation recognizes local governments as a responsible and accountable level of government which is a separate, autonomous and distinct entity from the provincial government.
“The language has been modernized and substantive changes will include broad powers for a wide range of matters within local jurisdiction,” said Rousselle. “We have worked closely with our stakeholders to modernize these two important pieces of legislation. The two acts will work in concert to provide more flexibility and a suite of modern planning tools, which will better serve the needs of New Brunswick communities.”
The legislation would:
- Give broad powers to local governments to enact bylaws for matters of local importance without having to request legislative changes, such as prohibiting distracted walking.
- Provide economic development powers allowing local governments to engage in activities to maintain and expand their tax base, such as providing land at below-market value to businesses; providing in-kind grants; or establishing government and non-government partnerships with respect to economic development and the development of community facilities, such as recreational facilities.
- Provide new planning and development tools that would, for example, allow local governments to collect development charges when approving a new development; this funding could then be used to provide that development with services such as roads and water/wastewater infrastructure.
- Improve service delivery and modernize the process to respond to requests from local service districts for service additions.
- Be more user-friendly, with fewer cross-references and updated language which would make navigation simpler for planning authorities.
Both acts, once approved, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
“We have been working for years to update and modernize the Municipalities Act, which was at the forefront in the 1960s, and we finally have an act for the 21st century,” - Bev Gaston, president of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick
"Today we commend the government’s efforts to bring this matter of high priority for the municipalities to a successful conclusion. We are very pleased with the introduction of these two umbrella bills, which we will take the time to analyze in detail over the next few weeks. The Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick plans to continue working closely with the Department of Environment and Local Government to ensure that the legislative and regulatory framework meets the needs and expectations of the province’s municipalities," - Luc Desjardins, association president
“We have been asking for a long time, and finally this government has given cities the tools they need to develop, grow and prosper,” - Eric Megarity, president of the New Brunswick Cities Association
"We would like to thank the government for a modernized act that is less prescriptive and will allow us to better do our jobs in support of the municipal councils and the citizens,” - Melanie MacDonald, president of the Association of Municipal Administrators of New Brunswick