[This is the fourth in a series of posts on service costs in Local Service Districts (LSDs) in New Brunswick. I suggest reading these previous posts, which add context to the information presented below:
In 2011, the New Brunswick government moved towards reform of the system of local governance by adopting some elements of the Finn report. By gradually transferring responsibilities (and tax points) for provision of local services to Regional Service Commissions, the Province hoped to relieve itself of certain costs and also transfer decision-making for certain politically sensitive issues to the regional commissions. Financial analyses carried out by the Province in previous years indicated that property taxes collected from rural New Brunswick (in particular the unincorporated Local Service Districts) were insufficient to cover the costs of local services. This means that once local service delivery is completely transferred the Regional Service Commissions, property taxes in at least some parts of rural New Brunswick may rise, and rise considerably.
Among the documents released as part of the process of transition to the new system was one entitled ‘Responsibilities for Roads’. In brief, this document sets out an eight year transition period during which responsibilities for local road maintenance and repair would become a local responsibility. The Province would no longer fund snowplowing and maintenance of what it deemed to be local roads. Those would become the responsibility of rural municipalities, towns and villages and/or Regional Service Commissions. There would certainly be some tax implications in this transfer, especially for rural areas with falling populations and a weakening tax base.
The ‘Responsibilities for Roads’ document was once found at this URL:
However, it seems to have been removed or relocated. I had previously downloaded a copy of the document and have placed the text below (and here’s a link to the downloaded pdf – Responsibilities_for_Roads). I don’t know why the document has been removed – perhaps the government is no longer intent on downloading responsibilities for local roads, perhaps the issue is deemed too politically sensitive for display, or perhaps the plan is ‘under review’.
[Note: this is an updated version of an older post. The most recent data on airport traffic (2014) have been added to tables and figures below and some text has been modified to reflect those data.]
What do we want from airports in New Brunswick? The three airports of New Brunswick’s three largest urban centres have direct flights to Toronto and Montreal, but (naturally) most of us want more of ’em. We want direct flights to Boston and/or New York, and we want flights to our favourite destinations to be frequent and cheap. Airport operators know this and requests for infrastructure dollars (from tax revenue) are often implicitly connected to the idea that more infrastructure (terminal buildings, runways, etc) will result in more passenger growth, more price competition, and thereby increase opportunities for more frequent and cheaper flights.
Unfortunately, we live in a region where economic growth has been anemic and incomes have been stagnant. Consequently, tax revenue is at a premium and there are many competing demands for that revenue. A dollar from tax revenue spent on a terminal expansion is a dollar that can’t be spent on a school or hospital. Requests from airport operators for contributions from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal sources have to be seen in that light. In this post, I am going to look at passenger and flight data for the three main airports in southern New Brunswick and consider some options for the future.
The quality of drinking water in New Brunswick has received quite a bit of attention recently, particularly with respect to the threat posed to water quality from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), either from drilling activities or disposal of waste materials produced during the process. Several reviews have called for collection of baseline water quality data so that any adverse impacts of fracking on water quality can be assessed. However, water quality issues in this Province pre-date fracking, despite the mistaken belief held by some that water in N.B. has always been ‘pristine’, pure and safe. It wasn’t that many decades ago, after all, when many municipalities (not to mention industries) dumped sewage and processing waste into the St John River with little or no treatment.
Given that the Provincial government estimates that there are over 100,000 private water wells in N.B., the safety of groundwater should be of concern. If you live in rural N.B., when was the last time you had your water tested – not just for bacteria, but for chemistry? Urban centres now are surrounded by sprawling rural 1-acre lot suburbs; each house has its own well and septic system. How well is water quality being managed in these locations?
For that matter, if you live in an urban area, how much do you know about the water testing and reporting done by your municipality? Sewage treatment plants dump treated wastewater back into the environment, usually into the nearest watershed; how much do you know about the quality of the grey water released?
It’s my opinion that these questions all pertain to baseline water quality, and that quality should be of concern to us all. In this post, I will review some information available on a number of topics relating to water quality in N.B. and pose a few questions.
As a resident of the Fredericton region, I have an interest in the regional economy and how it is faring. It’s not news (at least it shouldn’t be) that the Fredericton region has not been doing that well on the jobs front. That affects everything from the prospects of local businesses to the tax rates required to fund services.
When Statistics Canada releases its monthly Labour Force reports, the local media tend to focus on things like the unemployment rate, comparisons with this months employment performance in Moncton and Saint John, or a comparison with the previous month/year. Generally, we don’t get the longer term perspective that might be more useful than month-to-month or even year to year comparisons.
Statistics Canada Cansim Table 282-0054 provides rolling three-month averages for economic regions, going back to 1987. I find the data found there to be more useful than the seasonally-adjusted data that are usually provided in media reports.
Let’s look at data from that Table for the period November 2004 thru November 2014 and compare the Fredericton / Oromocto economic region with the Moncton / Richibucto economic region.