Among the more interesting points that came out of yesterday’s throne speech was the NDP’s future requirement that small Manitoba municipalities consider amalgamations as a cost-saving measure.
As the Winnipeg Free Press reported on Monday, the government is concerned that nearly half of the province’s municipalities (92 of 196) have a population of less than 1,000, which is the legal threshold for a local government under provincial law.
These smaller municipalities have complained in recent years that they are not large enough to apply successfully for certain provincial and federal programs, and many have had difficulty paying for the required financial audits on time, which has delayed their access to gas-tax revenues.
“Instead of competing with each other, you could have two, three, four municipalities together and the size of (the new entity) would give them more clout,” Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux told our sister paper.
While we will not argue against the reality that small municipalities would likely benefit financially from amalgamation and co-operation, we cannot ignore the fact that fewer reeves and councillors in rural Manitoba would also mean the NDP would likely face less criticism from these mostly Progressive Conservative regions.
Although on the somewhat bright side — for Brandon anyway — fewer delegates to AMM conventions would eliminate any future concerns over lack of adequate hotel space in this city.