Jack Keir will lead new regional service commission

Former Liberal cabinet minister Jack Keir will soon be taking over as the executive director for the Region 9 Service Commission and will be given the task to improve regional co-operation in Saint John and the Kennebecasis Valley.

The regional service commissions are a creation of the Alward government and are intended to help communities plan local services in a co-ordinated fashion.

Keir, the former energy minister in the Liberal government, will be named as the executive director of the service commission, which includes Saint John and communities in the Kennebecasis Valley.

Keir did not comment on the appointment, which has a pay range of $85,000 to $115,000.

But Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Grace Losier said Keir has “exceptional experience” to take on the new position.

Keir was a town councillor in Grand Bay in the 1990s. He has also served in executive positions on the Saint John Harbour Bridge Authority and the Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission.

Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced the 12 multi-purpose regional service commissions in 2011. The new organizations will start on Jan. 1, 2013.

The commissions will be made up of board members who represent municipalities, rural communities and local service districts.

Fitch has said the commissions will reduce duplication of services and improve collaboration between communities.

"The commissions will better enable communities across New Brunswick to work together and share services to meet their common needs," Fitch said on Nov. 1 in a statement.

There will be no shortage of contentious issues for the new planning commission in southern New Brunswick.

For instance, the not-for-profit River Valley Community Centre sits in Grand Bay-Westfield, although the town doesn't own it.

The town’s mayor said the building is paid off but the centre needs operating money.

Losier said the group is looking for a $120,000 operating grant and the town has already anted up $84,000.

This week, six neighbouring communities are being asked to chip in.

If the other municipalities do not help finance the centre, every person who uses the facility will have to pay a $300 user fee.

“They wouldn't be described as pleasant meetings. That would be my understanding of the overview I've had,” Losier said.

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