The evolution of local government is often accomplished across Canada in intense periods of activities, followed by periods of little activity. The related discussions and considerations can be about matching geography and performance of any new municipal unit. Currently a municipal amalgamation initiative in Manitoba is bringing attention to rural municipalities, which is at the heart of the proposed Bill 33 in Manitoba. As a result of recent research, RDI is releasing two reports: one regarding the geography of where people live and work; and the second regarding indicators of strong rural municipalities. Both reports are funded by The Province of Manitoba and are released by the Province of Manitoba and Brandon University Rural Development Institute (RDI). Dr Ashton, the director of RDI, notes: “Both reports are intended to inform discussions about rural municipal amalgamations in Manitoba. One report suggests that functional economic areas point to the geographical ‘foot print’ of where people live and work. The other report helps to inform how to describe a strong municipality with key indicators.” Strong rural municipalities are not islands, rather engines of growth and economic development, and provision of services.
Indicators and Criteria for Strong Rural Municipalities in Manitoba
Strong municipalities provide Manitoba with the capacity to fund much needed infrastructure; improve and maintain quality of services, and to grow and change with the economy.
RDI’s report identifies 8 indicators of strong Manitoba municipalities; based on previous work in this area and accepted statistical modeling. Strong municipalities are characterized by both capacity and growth. Both are necessary now and into the future. The indicators reflect the ability of a municipality to provide services to its citizens and invest in economic opportunities.
Indicators to be useful also require measurements or metrics. RDI has recommended two key baseline thresholds or minimum requirements for strong municipalities:
- population threshold of 3,000 or more and
- tax base (taxable assessment) of $130 million or more.
RDI’s work can contribute to defining larger municipalities, with the goal of moving all municipalities toward a position of long-term viability and strength.
Identifying and Explaining Self-Contained Labour Areas in Rural Manitoba
Rural municipalities and their boundaries can be defined by commuting patterns or where people live and work. Using Statistics Canada data and statistical techniques, RDI’s report shows residents of municipalities live and work within larger geographic regions.
These larger regions (or self-contained labour areas) are functional economic areas comprising many municipalities sharing common economic interests. Functional economic areas are one cornerstone of strong municipalities.
RDI identifies 18 regions (self-contained labour areas) in Manitoba and the municipalities within each region. These 18 regions provide a geographic framework to organize strong municipalities. RDI’s work can contribute to discussions amongst municipalities in determining amalgamation partners.
For more information contact:
Bill Ashton, PhD., Director
Rural Development Institute
Phone: 204-571-8513 or