Broadening democracy in New Brunswick's local service districts by engaging the public in the creation of shared service agreements

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University of New Brunswick


In a province that describes itself as a democracy, all areas of New Brunswick are not represented at the local level. While all cities, towns, villages, and rural communities are represented by an elected council, local services districts are not represented by an elected mayor or council. Local service districts are provincial entities and are thus represented by the Provincial Minister of Environment and Local Government. There has been a great deal of public scrutiny of the provincial government regarding the lack of a defined process for community service agreements, specifically with shared service agreements. The shared service agreement seeks to maximize efficiency and the value of citizens' dollars by sharing a service between two or more communities such as recreation agreements. Local service district citizens have been questioning the government's authority under the Municipalities Act for these legally binding agreements. They are claiming that these agreements are unlegislated and unregulated in the Act and Regulations which guide the procedure for the addition or suspension of services. This report will argue for a legislative process of shared service agreements. Increasing the use of shared service agreements in local service districts meets the needs of local citizens while also promoting participatory democracy where representative democracy is absent. A legitimate shared service agreement process would address transparency and accountability concerns from citizens, and local government structural problems the provincial government appears eager to modernize.