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Amalgamation tops agenda at municipal meetings

The Association of Manitoba Municipalities is urging members to submit
amalgamation plans — even if their plan is to do nothing

Municipal leaders are vowing to keep resisting mandatory amalgamations, supporting five resolutions at last week’s district meetings calling on the province to stop forcing the issue.

But the Association of Manitoba Municipalities is urging those affected to be ready with some sort of plan — even if it’s a plan to maintain the status quo — in time for a Dec. 1 deadline requiring rural municipalities with populations under 1,000 to submit amalgamation plans.

Some are taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach because Bill 33, the Municipal Modernization Act, hasn’t passed yet.

“It’s not law yet but there is a Dec. 1 deadline to get your plan in and we think it’s important that they get that plan in, whether it’s for or against, or they’re not doing anything,” said association president Doug Dobrowolski.

Affected municipalities also need to get the public involved in the process, he added, saying many Manitobans aren’t aware of the province’s bid to force amalgamations.

“I know right now a lot of municipalities don’t have all the answers but still they need to involve their public,” said Dobrowolski. “They need to know what’s going on.”

As of last week, passage of the bill was still held up by procedural delays being employed by the provincial Tories to hold up the passage of a number of pieces of legislation, including Bill 20, the bill to raise the provincial sales tax to eight per cent.

But the delay is only temporary, said Ron Lemieux, minister of local government.

“It (Bill 33) is going to be passed sooner or later,” he said.

“We’ve been very, very clear as to where we’re going with amalgamation. If the legislation is held up by a day, a week or a month, it doesn’t change anything whatsoever. It doesn’t stop the process.”

That process includes a series of deadlines to submit intentions for amalgamating. March 31 was when municipalities were supposed to submit the names of their potential amalgamation partners, and to have passed resolutions signalling their intentions. It’s not clear how many actually have done so.

As of June 12, 69 people had registered to speak to the standing committee reviewing Bill 33. As of press time, no date had been set for the hearings.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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