By Amy Cleary | For The Pearl | Vol. 7 No. 3 (February 14 2019)
As they were wading through the accounts to pay the bills at Mount Pearl council last week, a payment to Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador caught the eye of councillor Bill Antle.
“I noticed $18,000 spent on Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador membership fees, can you elaborate on what those entail?” he asked.
Finance Committee chairperson Andrea Power explained the funds were for the City’s membership fee in MNL.
MNL’s membership includes 276 incorporated municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In an interview after the meeting, MNL’s communications officer Gail Woodfine explained what the organization does.
“We don't work on behalf of individual councils,” said Woodfine. “What we do is when there is a collective problem in the municipalities, we will work to try and modify the Municipalities Act to try and help the collective body.”
As an example, Woodfine points to an issue some towns are having with vacant buildings.
Mount Pearl has several vacant buildings that the City wanted to raise taxes on to create revenue for the municipality, she said, however, the Act states the City of Mount Pearl cannot do that without the assistance of the provincial government. The Town of Paradise has the same problem. Since both municipalities have the same issue, the MNL approached the provincial government and tried to find a resolution for the councils.
Mount Pearl and Paradise both resolved the issue with the help of the MNL, she said. This resolution and other resolutions can be found on the MNL website.
Supporting the municipalities in conversations with the provincial government isn’t the only benefit that MNL offers. It can also aid in legal matters.
At its annual convention, MNL also offers training, seminars and group discussions for councillors across the province who attend. The cost of membership in MNL is based on the municipality’s population.
“MNL is a true partner to the City of Mount Pearl,” said Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker. “Not only do they assist us with our initiatives, but they help us find ways to work together with other municipalities and benefit from the work we’re each doing individually. They open up the doors of communication and create opportunities for us to collaborate.”