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Municipality merger trims 14 to seven

FOURTEEN municipalities officially amalgamated Wednesday.

It's the highest number of amalgamations in Manitoba in about four decades.

And it took just a few minutes to approve during a meeting of the Selinger cabinet.

"This signifies that in one afternoon we have approved more amalgamations than had been approved in the last 40 years," Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers said. "This is the final step with municipalities who took it seriously."

The merging of the 14 municipalities into seven, joining together under the controversial Bill 33, are:

  • the rural municipalities (RMs) of Strathcona and Riverside to create the RM of Prairie Lakes;
  • the RMs of Sifton and Oak Lake to create the RM of Sifton;
  • the Village of Glenboro and the RM of South Cypress to create the Municipality of Glenboro-South Cypress;
  • the RM of McCreary and the Village of McCreary to create the Municipality of McCreary;
  • the RMs of Minto and Odanah to create the RM of Minto-Odanah;
  • the RMs of Langford and North Cypress to create the RM of North Cypress-Langford; and
  • the Town of Ste. Rose du Lac and the RM of Ste. Rose to create the Municipality of Ste. Rose.

The province says 85 municipalities that have fewer than 1,000 residents are required to submit an amalgamation plan under the Municipal Amalgamations Act in time for the October 2014 municipal elections.

Struthers said the government is willing to work with each remaining municipality on a merger plan leading to an extended Feb. 1 deadline.

The amalgamations had not been discussed prior to the introduction of Bill 33 in May.

"The plans that they brought forward, we didn't alter," he said.

The amalgamations come a week after the Association of Manitoba Municipalities said it and five municipalities would go to court to try to block what it says is the "forced nature" of the Selinger government's merger plan.

They also came the day after Struthers faced an angry crowd in Eriksdale to discuss its possible merger with the RM of Grahamdale and RM of Siglunes.

"I wouldn't say it was rough," Struthers said. "I listened to them and I responded to their questions to make sure they understood the benefits of amalgamation."

The province has pushed amalgamation to reduce the cost of local government and take advantage of upcoming infrastructure money under Ottawa's new Building Canada Fund.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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