Saturday, 24 June 2017





Considering the Staff Make-up of the Proposed YRC


The steering committee of the YRC Project is required to make a recommendation to the Minister of the Department of Environment and Local Government about the staff make-up of the proposed YRC.  At this point in the preliminary feasibility study for the Project, the steering committee is proposing the hiring of a fill time general manager and a full time clerk treasurer.

This staff make-up is based on the steering committee's belief that the proposed YRC Council should have an oversight role to play.  The staff should be directed by the Council to do the work of managing the rural community.

A clerk treasurer is a mandatory staff position for a new rural community whereas a general manager position is not mandatory. However, the steering committee believes that a general manager would be a vital employee and is now asking for input from residents of the Project area on the matter.

Please contact us with your opinion or tell us what it is when you attend Round 2 Public Consultation Open Houses.  We need your input!


Round 2 Public Consultation
(Open House Sessions 7 – 9 pm)

July 11 – Riverside Resort, 35 Mactaquac Road, French Village, NB

July 12 – Keswick Valley Recreation Centre, 1262 Route 104, Burtts Corner, NB


Friday, 23 June 2017


The YRC Project Preliminary Feasibility Study Report Will Be Released on June 30, 2017


The preliminary feasibility report for the YRC Project will be released on June 30, 2017.  A summary of it will be in your mailboxes around that time.  Keep an eye out for it.  If you do not receive it give us a call and we will see that you get one.  453-3358.


Included in the report will be options for you to consider about the proposed YRC including: 

1. Name
2. Boundary
3. Staff
4. Preserving Community Identity
5. Office Location
6. Council Makeup and Wards
7.  Services

Your opinions are very important so please tell us what they are. After you read the report we would like to know if you need additional information in order to make an informed decision about the future of local services delivery in the Project area. Can you tell us what is it about the current situation (the status quo in the partnering LSDs) that you do not want to see changed?  Could you tell us what you like or dislike about the proposed YRC?
Please plan to participate in the upcoming Round 2 Public Consultation Open Houses to talk to us and/or to the staff from the Department of Environment and Local Government who are working with us on the Project.  An explanation of the list of options above will be a highlight of each Open House (and of the full preliminary feasibility study report).  You could also write to us (yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com) to provide us with your input.

Round 2 Public Consultation
(Open House sessions 7 – 9 pm)

July 11 – Riverside Resort, 35 Mactaquac Road, French Village, NB

July 12 – Keswick Valley Recreation Centre, 1262 Route 104, Burtts Corner, NB




The Proposed YRC Project Area




Wednesday, 21 June 2017

An Invitation to Businesses in the Proposed YRC


The YRC Business Consultation sub-committee has been given the task of contacting businesses in the study area to ask for advice, comments, concerns and questions from owners/operators/workers about the potential impacts of the YRC on the business community.  
We want to hear from you!
These are facts to consider at this time:

1. A Rural Community could promote cost efficiencies and joint decision making by all partners. 
2. YRC Council must take on a minimum of three services:  Administration; Emergency Measures; Community Planning Services.  Other services such as Dog Control or Garbage Collection would be taken on if cost-advantageous.  Remaining services will continue to be provided by the Province. 
3. Land use regulations should not change to any degree in YRC for existing businesses because land use plans are already in place for 4 of the 5 partnering LSDs.  These would be rolled in to the rural plan that the YRC would have to put in place within two years of incorporation.    
4. Department of Transportation and Infrastructure would continue to look after the roads but YRC Council could have input on road infrastructure.

What could the proposed YRC do that the Local Service Districts can’t do?

a. Receive dedicated access to federal Gas Tax Funding that is paid by residents of an unincorporated area so that it could be used for infrastructure improvements in the local area.
b. Access Federal and Provincial Funding programs.
c. Be involved in discussions regarding larger projects such as Sisson Mine and the Mactaquac Project.
d. Have local voices heard.



Members of the business community in the proposed YRC, might ask, “Is this just another level of Government or are we transferring decision making about businesses from the Province to elected representatives who live and work in YRC?”  

We are asking for your help with finding the answer to that question.  What do you need to know about operating your business in the proposed YRC?

Please join us at the Round 2 Public Consultation Open Houses on July 11 (Riverside Resort, 35 Mactaquac Road, French Village) and/or July 12 (Keswick Valley Recreation Centre 1262 Route 104, Burtts Corner).  Come share your opinions of a rural community model of local service delivery.  Take part in a discussion about tax rates, Council’s ability to make decisions with input from the local business community, land-use planning that supports businesses, the way businesses would be considered in the rural plan for YRC, the services your business could expect to receive etc.  For more information please contact yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Where Could the Proposed YRC Council Meetings Be Held?

One of the recommendations that the YRC Project steering committee will be asked to make for the Minister's consideration is about where the proposed YRC Council meetings could take place. We are suggesting that there are already some places in all parts of the Project area that would work well for this. If the Council rotated its meetings between these meeting spots (perhaps for the first year until the councillors had some time to think about having a more permanent office location to meet in), it could save money.  It could also give residents a chance to attend a Council meeting without having to travel too far from home.  

What do you think about this idea?  It is one of the options that we are asking citizens to give us their opinions about.  You can send your suggestions to us at yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.  Or you can let us know at Round 2 Public Consultation Open Houses which will take place from 7 - 9pm on both July 11 (Riverside Resort, 35 Mactaquac Road, French Village) and July 12 (Keswick Valley Recreation Centre, 1262 Route 104, Burtts Corner).  Please participate.  Your input is very important. 














Sunday, 18 June 2017

Spreading the Word about the YRC Project

Yesterday, as part of Keswick Valley Summerfest, a group of volunteers were at the Keswick Valley Arena to answer residents' questions about the YRC Project.  If you have questions/comments/concerns, please send them along to yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com or leave a phone message at 453-3358.  



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Considering the Administration for YRC - What Do You Think About the Proposed Budget Items and Costs? 


As part of the YRC Project Feasibility Study the steering committee must make a recommendation about the proposed administration of the rural community.  In Round 1 Public Consultations sessions (that were held in April/May, 2017), the proposed budget items and estimated costs that are shown in the table below were put forward for citizens to think about.     

 
Proposed Budget Items
for
YRC Administration
Preliminary Cost Estimate
 $
Mayor and Council (mandatory)
50,000
General Manager/CAO
Full time
75,000
Clerk/Treasurer (mandatory)  Full time
60,000
Office Building  Rental/Mortgage Payment
25,000
Legal Services
10,000
External Audit (mandatory)
10,000
Liability Insurance (mandatory)
5,000
Office Supplies etc.
15,000

Total Estimated Cost for  Administration Services

250,000


In the Preliminary Feasibility Study report (to be released on June 30, 2017), these proposed administration budget items and costs will be compared with the current situation in the partnering LSDs of the YRC Project.  We want to hear your opinions about this information.  Tell us your concerns/suggestions/complaints/advice.

Please plan to attend the Round 2 Public Consultation Open Houses  (July 11th and 12th, 2017) to give your input.  You can also email it to us at yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com or you can call DELG and leave a message at 453-3358. 

The Mactaquac Dam is currently part of the tax base for both Kingsclear and Keswick Ridge LSDs.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Curious Folk in Dorn Ridge Farm Fields
Naming the Proposed Rural Community 
- It's Time to Think About a Choice - 

When the YRC Project began in the spring of 2016, it was necessary for the members of the steering committee to pick a "working name" for the proposed rural community.  York was chosen (because the Project's partnering LSDs are all in York County).

As part of the Project's feasibility study, residents can make other suggestions or say they are in favor of keeping the name York if the rural community goes ahead.

There will be feedback forms for residents to use for this purpose at the upcoming Round 2 Public Consultation Open Houses (July 11th and 12th, 2017).  Your name of choice can also be sent to the steering committee via email:  yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.  Or you can leave a phone message with DELG (453-3358).

When thinking of possible rural community names, it might be good to remember that:
- a rural community name is used mostly for administrative purposes and Council business.
- if a rural community is formed your address will not change.  If you live in Mazerolle Settlement or Green Hill Lake now, that will be where you say you live then too.



Monday, 5 June 2017

Dorn Ridge (Douglas LSD) is in the YRC Project area.
The Finn Report Recommendations:

The Finn Report was written in 2008.  It presented the results of a study on the future of local governance institutions in New Brunswick.  Since then the provincial government has been considering the report's various recommendations.  The very first one was as follows:

Municipal Structure Recommendation: 1. It is recommended that incorporated municipal governments be established over all of the New Brunswick territory and that all residents be represented and governed by elected municipal councils (Finn, 2008, page 77).



Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Keswick Islands


The Keswick Islands (at left) as seen from Crock's Point (facing downstream).


The Keswick Islands (at left) as seen from Douglas, near the Mouth of the Keswick River (facing upstream).
The Keswick Islands are approximately 2300 acres in size and are a major reminder of the importance of agriculture in the YRC Project area.

The Keswick Islands include 19 Islands and intervals in the St. John River between Crock's Point and Fredericton.  Historically, farmers from Douglas, Keswick, Mactaquac, Kingsclear and Island View each had plots on the Islands where they harvested hay or grazed livestock.  

Farming operations remain active on the Keswick Islands and interval lands today.  They make a significant contribution to the the local economy.



Friday, 2 June 2017

Lower Douglas (as viewed from the Keswick Islands in the St.John River) is in the YRC Project area.
Should YRC Use The Councillor At-Large Model?


The YRC Project Steering Committee is in the process of choosing which model to recommend for the governance of the York Rural Community. The question being considered is whether or not there should be councillors at-large (see a previous Blog post about the Ward model of governance).
The at-large system would not divide the project area geographically.  All members of Council would represent everybody in the rural community.  In other words, people who get elected to Council would be accountable to all of the citizens and as a result be more likely to see the “big picture” and make choices that are in the best interest of the community as a whole.  With an at-large system, residents would have a greater number of Council members they can contact and discuss issues with.  Also, there would be less chance that a councillor would be acclaimed if there were not enough candidates to compete for election. 
But with an at-large system the cost to candidates is greater because they would campaign throughout the rural community area rather than just in a part of it (i.e if there were wards).
There is also the possibility that in an at-large system, an unbalanced number of councillors could come from a specific area(s) and perhaps over represent a particular viewpoint.  Voters are not required to elect councillors from different areas of the rural community if an at-large system is in place.   
Last, but not least, the at-large model sometimes creates tension in the Council especially when an at-large councillor gets more votes than the Mayor (who is always elected at-large, even if the ward system of governance is used by a rural community).

As part of its responsibilities in the feasibility study, the YRC Project Steering Committee will be proposing a Council structure for residents to consider (ward or at-large system of governance).  In the preliminary feasibility study report we are planning to propose at least three options.  YRC Project area residents are asked to send your concerns, advice, suggestions or requests about this matter to yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Which Local Services Should a Rural Community Council Take On?

When a Rural Community Project is initiated, there are many aspects of governance for the organizing group to learn and understand so that they can present them to the people who live in the Project area.  

Deciding upon which services to administer is one of those governance matters.  The current rules state that any new RC Council must deal with its own administration and planning (land use planning and emergency planning) but that it can choose to have the Province continue delivering other local services to residents.  Alternatively, the RC Council can choose to administer as many local services as it wants, taking them on immediately after the RC is incorporated or at some point in the future. 

Usually the choice is based on cost and control.  The more local services that the RC Council administers, the more decision making power it has and the less it costs.  The fewer local services that the RC Council administers, the less decision making power it has and the more it costs (i.e. more has to paid to the Province to do the administration on the RC Council's behalf).

The Preliminary Feasibility Study Report for the YRC Project (to be released June 30) will provide residents with cost estimates for a couple of different options for local services administration by the proposed RC Council.  We encourage residents to attend the Round 2 Public Consultation Open House sessions (July 11 and 12) to give their feedback about these options.



Mactaquac Lake is a focal point of the YRC Project Area.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Should YRC Use The Ward Model?

The YRC Project Steering Committee is in the process of choosing which model to recommend for the governance of the York Rural Community. The question being considered is whether or not there should be wards.  

When a Rural Community is divided in to wards, each resident has a single, easily identifiable district representative or councillor. That representative tends to be highly accountable because he or she can be re-elected or defeated in the next election based on whether or not residents are happy with the work he or she has done on the Council. 

In a Ward Model, there is less cost for people to run for election because they are only campaigning within the ward (instead of through the whole rural community).

In a Ward Model, the number of residents that a councillor represents is lower so he or she has more time to focus on the issues of individuals in the ward.

In a Ward Model, there is a greater chance that residents know the person running for election because he or she likely lives in the neighbourhood.

But in a Ward Model, there is a chance that the Rural Community would loose out on a good candidate because he or she does not want to run against a neighbour.

And in a Ward Model, depending on how ward boundaries are determined, there is a greater chance that a candidate would be acclaimed in wards with smaller population numbers (because there might be fewer people willing or able to run for office).

As part of its responsibilities in the feasibility study , the YRC Project Steering Committee will be proposing a Council structure for residents to consider.  In the preliminary feasibility study report we are planning to propose at least three options.  YRC Project area residents  are asked to send your concerns, advice, suggestions or requests about this matter to yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.


The St. John River from Keswick Ridge LSD with Kingsclear LSD (left) and Bright LSD (right) in the distance.  



Friday, 26 May 2017

Providing Local Services at a Cost Within Our Means..


The YRC Project Steering Committee is working with staff at the Department of Environment and Local Government and planners at Regional Service Commission 11 to assemble the facts and figures about the feasibility of forming York Rural Community. 

As we work, we are keeping the following quote in mind because it describes one of the Project's main goals - the cost effective and efficient delivery of local services.  


"A local government needs a geographic, demographic and financial base appropriate for carrying out its assigned responsibilities. This means that the geography and population it serves must be sufficient to allow for cost effective service, organization and delivery. It also means that it should be able to provide services largely within its own tax capacity. "  

The Finn Report on the Future of Local Governance in NB (2008, p. 15)


The Keswick Flats are in the YRC Project Area


Thursday, 25 May 2017

 -YRC Project Area-

 The Scenic Splendour of our Rivers/Forest/Farm Fields

An Aerial View of Lower Queensbury (submitted by T. Beckley)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Where do my taxes go now? Where will they go with a Rural Community?  

PART II

In a recent blog post (scroll down to find it), we talked about taxes in the current LSD structure throughout the YRC Project area. In this post we will talk about how taxes would be affected by the formation of a Rural Community. Here is what is being proposed:

Service to Proposed YRC Residents
Would Be Provided By:
1. Governance
YRC Council
2. Policing
RCMP
3. Emergency Measures Plan
YRC Council
4. Fire Protection
DELG (via several fire departments)
5. Dog Control
SPCA
6. Street Lights (in Oswald Gray Subdivision and on Carlisle Rd)
NB Power
7. Land Use Planning
YRC Council / RSC 11
8. Recreation
DELG + Rec Councils
9. Disposal  and Garbage Collection and Recycling
RSC 11 and private contractors
10. Road Summer /Winter Maintenance
Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI)
11. Road Capital Upgrades
 DTI


In the LSD model all rates are set by the provincial government but in a Rural Community model they would be set by elected residents who serve on the Council. 

An LSD does not have a bank account but a Rural Community does meaning that the Council can save funds for future planning, emergency situations, etc.  within the Rural Community.  Any unspent budget in a LSD is returned to the government.


A common misconception is that a Rural Community requires a single blended tax rate. The truth is that for the York Rural Community Project, it is being proposed to maintain the existing tax areas so that residents continue to pay taxes only for the services that they receive.  There are 8 different LSD tax rates in the proposed YRC Project area ranging from $0.4030 to $0.5821 per $100 of assessment.  


And what about the cost for administration of the Rural Community?  Initial estimates for the proposed YRC add an estimated $0.015 to cover that cost.  On a $200,000 house the estimated increase represents approximately $30 annually. The cost of the existing services is assumed to remain the same but will be evaluated for cost savings as the feasibility study progresses.  The preliminary feasibility study report for the YRC Project will be released on June 30, 2017.

If you have any comments concerns or questions about the cost of about tax rates being proposed for the YRC Project area, please send them to the YRC Project steering committee at yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.  

Monday, 22 May 2017

Considering Possibilities for the YRC Wards and Council

Doulgas, Bright and Keswick Ridge LSDs (in distance) from Kingsclear LSD (Daryl Hunter photo)

The members of the YRC Project steering committee have recently participated in a workshop about how wards and councils could be set up in a new local government. The workshop taught us many things that we will need to know as we prepare options to include in the Project's preliminary feasibility study report. For example, we learned that:

- The ward system divides a local government area into separate sections represented, most commonly, by a single councillor. Most people believe that a ward system is a way to have clear accountability and representation. 

- Determining the number of wards and their locations is usually based on population, geography, community history, community interests and minority representation.  

- There is no standard definition of a ward but the Supreme Court of Canada has recommended that a ward should:

1.Distribute the population and electors as equally as possible.  

2.Respect identifiable communities of interest. 

3.Use natural, physical boundaries that are locally recognized.

4.Serve the larger public interest of all electors of the municipality rather than the interest of a small group.


Residents of the YRC Project area are encouraged to send their concerns, suggestions or advice about wards to the YRC Project steering committee at yorkruralcommunity@gmail.com.