Election 2018: Green Party of NB platform on municipal issues

UMNB applauds the NB Green Party’s position that New Brunswick’s communities need the power to shape their futures, and that good governance begins at the local level.

The Green Party 2018 election platform, released on August 27, includes a promise to increase the authority of municipalities and to replace Local Service Districts with local elected governments.

UMNB agrees that municipalities should have the power to make decisions that make sense at the local level. UMNB stronglysupports giving all New Brunswickers locally-elected representation through full municipalization.

The platform also includes promises on issues that would directly affect municipalities, including property taxes, the Regional Service Commissions, and public transportation.

UMNB is tracking campaign promises on municipal issues from all the political parties, and will examine their platforms through the municipal lens. Follow our Facebook page for news: www.facebook.com/MunicipalNB

Read below for platform items that would have an impact on municipalities. 

Link to the full platform: https://bit.ly/2P7h4Ce

Green Party of NB platform on municipal issues

Local Governance

  • Amend the Municipalities Act and Community Planning Act to increase the authority of municipalities
  • Replace the current system of Local Service Districts with local elected governments designed by citizens to best meet their needs.
  • Replace those Regional Service Commissions that include the three largest cities with Metropolitan Service Commissions to encompass the suburban and extra-urban commuter-based communities
  • Require Regional Service Commissions to carry out planning on a watershed basis, respecting ecological features of the region, and take on the responsibility for public transportation planning

Notes: UMNB supports giving municipalities more authority to make decisions that make sense at the local level. UMNB strongly supports full municipalization, which would give all New Brunswickers locally-elected representation. However, municipalities should be consulted prior to any changes to the Regional Service Commissions, including increasing their scope or adding new mandatory services. Note that the Local Governance Act replaced the Municipalities Act as of January 1 2018.

Property tax

  • Institute a public inquiry into the province’s finances, including a means to phase-out the double tax on non-owner-occupied properties.
  • De-link property assessment from the real estate market. Assessments will increase based on actual improvements made, or when a house is sold.
  • Remove the industrial property tax exemption for crude oil storage tanks, and add industrial machinery and equipment as taxable property.

Notes: The vast majority of municipal revenues come from property taxes, which makes municipalities vulnerable to sudden changes by the province like the 2018 property assessment freeze. Municipalities need new and diverse sources of revenue. In the meantime, municipalities should be consulted on proposed changes to property taxes to avoid unforeseen negative impacts on residents’ taxes and services. 

Public transportation

  • Subsidize existing municipal transit systems to allow them to expand their services and keep costs low.
  • Direct the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to develop and maintain a convenient and affordable public transportation system within and between regions not served by commercial services. Public transportation planning would be the responsibility of Regional Service Commissions.

Notes: Currently only four NB municipalities have existing transit systems (Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John, Miramichi). Some unserved municipalities are exploring regional transportation options to ensure residents’ access to services such as health care, but lack the funds for capital and operating costs. Inter-city transportation is not currently eligible for funding under the new federal infrastructure fund. 

Other:

  • Require government departments, hospitals, schools and community colleges to increase their purchase of local goods and services by at least 10% and encourage municipalities and universities to do the same.