MNL wants smaller towns to have more data

Craig Pollett of Municipalities NL making a presentation to the CBN joint council Thursday night, Sept. 27.
Craig Pollett of Municipalities NL making a presentation to the CBN joint council Thursday night, Sept. 27. – Chris Lewis

More detailed information helps in decision making

Municipalities NL is working to gather the right data to help communities in Conception Bay North prosper in the future.

At a recent joint council meeting for municipalities in the Conception Bay North region Craig Pollett, executive director of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL), explained how that organizations is hoping to help smaller communities that may not have access to the kind of precise information other larger towns and cities in the country use on a regular basis.

If all goes well, he said, MNL will be able to offer towns information that’s relevant specifically to them.

“We know that having reliable data helps you make better decisions, and leads to good planning. Our big idea stems from the thought that municipalities really should have access to the best possible data that’s available, and – right now, at least – you don’t,” he said of the project’s goal. “You have access to some stuff, like populations and those sorts of things, but you don’t have access to the best stuff. That’s what we want you to have.”

Pollett added precise information is often accessible to larger towns that have the money to hire consultants to generate such information, or to purchase the data from places such as Statistics Canada.

“We thought it would be useful if we could get municipalities better access to this data and analyses – it would help improve economic development activity (and) encourage collaboration between municipalities,” he said.

The project, titled “Big Ideas, Big Data” aims to collect data from numerous provincial and federal government databases.

Tax filer information, for example, could aid councils in determining how residents are spending money within their community, and what resources residents cannot purchase locally.

Pollett says such data would give communities get a better grasp on purchasing trends in their areas, and what they can do to help keep potential buyers in their communities.

“It’s not just a matter of going to StatsCan and asking these questions – there’s much deeper, richer information out there than that,” he explained. “It’s one thing to know that an entire region generates X amount of economic activity. It’s something else to know who’s doing that, where they’re spending their money, where they move to spend more of it, and things like that. That’s what this project is all about.”