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REF NO.: 180

SUBJECT: Public forum to explore regional cooperation on Northeast Avalon
DATE: April 11, 2011

            The Northeast Avalon is growing by leaps and bounds and municipal councils and voluntary organizations are struggling to keep up. Existing organizations work within boundaries that are there for good reasons, but population growth, commuting patterns and commercial catchment areas don’t respect boundaries.
            On Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at the Marian Hall in Conception Harbour, the Harris Centre, in partnership with the Northeast Avalon Regional Economic Development Board, will present a special Memorial Presents event, Regional Cooperation in the Northeast Avalon: What Does the Future Hold?, that will share the findings of a major research project on the connections between municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
            Free and open to the public, the speakers, including Memorial University researchers Dr. Kelly Vodden and Dr. Rob Greenwood, as well as deputy mayor of Holyrood, Jim Joy, and a councillor with the Town of Conception Bay South, Kirk Youden, will discuss the challenges and opportunities municipalities and other organizations and community groups face throughout the collaboration process.
            One of the most interesting elements of the research is the concept of “functional regions.” They’re quite simple, really: a functional region is the space in which individuals live their lives, and may extend beyond traditional administrative boundaries. Imagine a town outside a larger city: the people living there might commute to work, drive a child to play soccer in a neighbouring town, and buy groceries in another.
            With all the flow between municipal boundaries, some communities are becoming more open to working conjointly on projects of shared interest. “Municipalities are increasingly recognizing the benefits of working together in joint planning, service provision and economic development, as citizens live their lives working in one community, shopping in another, using sports and recreation facilities in another and living in another,” explained Dr. Greenwood.
And it isn’t just municipalities that are adapting the boundaries of their interactions: “social organizations, industry associations, and every other type of business or group are also trying to adapt to this constantly evolving reality,” Dr. Greenwood said.
            All members of the public are welcome to attend the forum, which will include presentations, as well as an audience questions and answer session. A reception and opportunity to meet and chat with the presenters will follow.
For more information, please visit the Harris Centre’s website at www.mun.ca/harriscentre.

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