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Responding to the Government of New Brunswick’s Green Paper on Local Governance Reform released in April 2021, this report diagnoses the problems of the province’s existing system of local governance and proposes a solution that leverages existing assets to create a more equitable, democratic, responsive, and efficient local governance system. A reformed local governance system will help New Brunswickers confront difficult present and future economic and demographic challenges.

This report recommends strengthening New Brunswick’s 12 Regional Service Commissions along the lines of British Columbia’s regional districts—multi-purpose bodies that have coordinated service delivery and land-use planning in that province since the 1960s. The report outlines the history of regional districts, describes their key features, and shows how they could be implemented in New Brunswick through modest reforms to the existing Regional Service Commissions. We call this approach representative regionalization because it would strengthen local government, give a democratic voice to the 30% of New Brunswickers who live outside of incorporated municipalities, and distribute costs and benefits more equitably within regional housing and labour markets. Importantly, representative regionalization would be minimally disruptive to existing institutions and longstanding practices—indeed, much less disruptive than other potential options such as forced municipal incorporation and amalgamation. Representative regionalization is not a centralizing move. Rather, it would enhance local autonomy by empowering local democratic institutions to make decisions in the interest of their communities.

Publication Date



Centre for Urban Policy and Local Governance, Western University




local government, provincial municipal relations, New Brunswick, unincorporated areas, municipal reform


Civic and Community Engagement | Public Administration | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


A French-language version is also available on the repository.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Representative Regionalization: Toward More Equitable, Democratic, Responsive, and Efficient Local Government in New Brunswick