Time to rethink municipalities

I was given a copy of the City of Moncton’s Vision 2010 Strategic Plan last week and as I flipped through it I started to chuckle.

It wasn’t that long ago that municipalities did ‘curb and gutter’ kinds of things. You know, garbage removal, snow plowing, water/sewage. City stuff.

Not anymore.

The strategic plan is about ‘active’ living, arts & culture, green spaces, the environment, health, youth engagement, beautification, public art, bilingualism, urban forests – and yes, even economic development.

Now, don’t get me wrong. All the old time curb and gutter stuff is there to. Cities still have to do city stuff. It’s just that circa 2006 leading municipalities know what they need to do to be ‘liveable’ and attract people. Curb and gutter is table stakes. All the jazz is what differentiates.

However, in true New Brunswick style, the municipalities are still labouring under legislation that hasn’t been changed in over 60 years. Maybe in another 60, someone up in Freddy Beach might figure this out.

I had a chance to breeze through the new ‘City of Toronto’ legislation a few days ago. Wow. Talk about your city-state. For me, this makes good sense. Of course, in New Brunswick, much more ‘stuff’ needs to be done at the provincial level. After all, the entire province of New Brunswick population could fit in Etobicoke and environs.

But there are still things that need to get done. If Moncton wants to syphon of methane gas from the dump for a green power source, it should have the authority. If it wants to charge a hospitality fee (like half the cities in this country) it should have the authority. If it wants to creatively support economic development, it should have the authority.