Headed the wrong way

After 10 years of joint administration, the Town of Neepawa and the RM of Langford are parting company. It’s entirely the wrong move. Instead of parting ways administratively, the two municipal jurisdictions, which are joined at the hip anyway, should be merging.
This parting of the ways is bad for our municipalities and it sends a very negative message to senior governments. Provincial and federal governments tend to want to help communities that cooperate and get along. It doesn’t look like Langford and Neepawa are getting along very well.
In a thinly veiled and tersely worded letter last week, the RM of Langford informed the taxpayers that the joint administration agreement, which had been in place for 10 years, was dissolving. It will cost Langford taxpayers more money. It will likely cost Neepawa taxpayers more money. More importantly, it will throw up a road block to provincial and perhaps federal funding and support. There will be longer delays, if that’s possible, in getting things done in this neck of the woods. It’s just a bad, bad move.
And who is to blame? Quite frankly, both councils have screwed up badly on this issue
Looking at a bit of history, Neepawa, Langford and many other RMs and villages before they were founded, were once part of the County of Beautiful Plains. Neepawa was formed in 1883 and that year also marked the construction of the BP County Court building. The county court building is a massive building that sits, to this day, in the centre of Neepawa. Out of that building, the whole area was administered. In the late 1880s and 90s, RMs started to form their own areas. In the early 1890s, two RMs, Glendale and Osprey joined to become Langford. In 2000, Neepawa and Langford, although keeping separate jurisdictions and councils, entered a joint administration agreement. It fell apart this year.
Carberry and North Cypress have had a joint administration for many years, as have Hamiota and the RM of Hamiota. The Town of Killarney and the RM of Turtle Mountain actually amalgamated, as have Shoal Lake and the RM of Shoal Lake.
When the RM of Langford and the Town of Neepawa entered into a joint agreement, the initial discussions also included Reeve Ed Levandoski of the RM of Rosedale. Levandoski, to his credit, wanted to consider it. The Rosedale council of the day refused to even discuss it.
Certainly, the RM of Langford, the Town of Neepawa and likely the RM of Rosedale should all be one municipal district. Many people don’t realize that all the urban development west of Nick’s Repair on the north side of Hwy. #16, is in the RM of Langford. All the new development west of the Veterans’ Way used to be in Langford. The area occupied by Hylife used to be in Langford.
Countless council and administration hours are spent on ironing out who pays for what when it comes to the vet board, the water lines, the Neepawa and Area Planning Distrist and about 15 other joint agreements.
What it boils down to is there are a whole lot of people who have been on councils and who are still on councils who can’t seem to play in the same sandbox. It’s ridiculous and it’s costly.
Councils over the years, just for an example, have fought for hours on end over who fixes the culvert on Goverment Road allowance south of the chicken barns. It’s barely into Langford but it’s argued that Neepawa people use the road more than Langford people do. Silly stuff.
We have a jointly funded vet board, fire department, a share in the landfill (garbage dump), planning district and many other boards. Unfortunately council bickering have become an industry unto its own. Having meetings, but accomplishing nothing, has become a well paying job.
We need to call a referendum within the next year to amalgamate and get on with life. To have about 16 councillors, two reeves and a mayor administering an area as small as Langford, Rosedale and Neepawa with a population much less than we had in 1950 is simply ridiculous. There’s only about 7,000 people in the whole area for heaven’s sake. That’s one counillor or reeve (mayor) for every 315 people.
The City of Winnipeg has 15 councillors and mayor, one for every 37,500 people.
We rural folks must be a sad and sorry lot that we need a 100 times more administration than the City of Winnipeg. I guess we rural folks aren’t as self reliant as we claim we are.
Think about it folks (and councillors). Why would anyone outside the area take us seriously when (a) we can’t get our act together and (b) we need 100 times more councillors to babysit us than do the residents of the City of Winnipeg?
It’s no wonder rural Manitoba is shrinking, we’re too childish to get our act together.
We need one CAO, a council of not more than eight people and a mayor for Neepawa, Langford and Rosedale. If we could get to that point, maybe senior governments might take us seriously. As long as we stay huddled in our little enclaves of 1,000 or 2,000 or 4,000 people and we don’t get our stuff together, we can never see real progress. I think the community is ready, maybe even some of the councillors are ready. Even if they aren’t, the time is long overdue to amalgamate. We are a community, we act like one all the time for commerce, for events, for sports, for everything except our administration. We need a ward system with a mayor elected at large.
And what do we call it. Certainly not Neepawa, but how does Beautiful Plains Municipal District sound?
Has a nice historic ring to it doesn’t it?

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