Newfoundland; Economic, Diplomatic, and Strategic Studies

By R. A. MacKay | Go to book overview

VII
MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

MANY municipal communities in the Old World are of ancient origin but, speaking broadly, the framework of local and municipal government which characterizes the internal administrative order of most modern states is of relatively recent origin. Municipal institutions spring from the need for local services, such as roads or streets, educational facilities, sanitation, fire and police protection, and the need for local administrative bodies to carry out many of the functions normally controlled or financed by central authorities, such as public health and social welfare services. In Newfoundland these needs have been less insistent than in more highly industrialized or more thickly populated areas of the Anglo-Saxon world. Until very recent years St. John's has been the only incorporated municipality, and there has been no village, town, township or county government elsewhere in the Island. From time to time efforts have been made to encourage the growth of municipal institutions. A General Act to provide for their establishment by local option was passed in 1933 and another in 1937, and financial assistance was provided for communities becoming incorporated. But to the date of writing only three communities had become incorporated, Windsor ( 1938), West Corner Brook ( 1942), and Grand Bank ( 1943).1

The absence of municipal institutions and the apathy, if not hostility, of the Newfoundlander towards them, can be understood only in the light of the Island's history and local conditions. The original settlers had little or no experience

____________________
1
During 1945--after the above was written--the following six municipalities were incorporated: the Towns of Harbour Grace, St. Anthony, Wesleyville and Channel-Port Aux Basques; and the Rural Districts of Spring Dale-Southbrook, and Placentia.

-150-

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