Toila and Jõhvi make second attempt to merge as 'one strong municipality'

Jõhvi and Toila municipalities want to merge.
Jõhvi and Toila municipalities want to merge. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The municipalities of Toila and Jõhvi are making a second attempt to merge together. Both municipal councils have, in principle, agreed to the merger, and a steering group is in the process of being formed. A previous effort to combine the two municipalities in 2016 failed, but now, according to Toila Municipality head Eve East, times have changed.

In the fall of 2016, ahead of the major administrative reforms implemented in Estonia in 2017, representatives of Jõhvi unexpectedly backed out of negotiations on a proposed merger. As a result, the municipalities of Toila, Kohtla and Kohtla-Nõmme joined together without Jõhvi.

Current Jõhvi Municipality Mayor Maris Toomel believes, the behavior of municipality leaders at the time, which led to the Jõhvi-less merger, was wrong.

"The previous attempt (to merge) failed, and that was a disaster. I think that this merger is necessary, both for Jõhvi and Toila, in order to form one strong municipality together," said Toomel.

Eve East, head of Toila Municipality, which has accepted Jõhvi's official request to merge, agrees. However, East has also had to reassure locals that there will be no repeat of the turmoil, which erupted during Jõhvi's previous merger attempt in 2016.

"I would like to reassure you that no decision has been taken yet, and people can watch the process unfold calmly. Let's not go back to the past. The circumstances were different then, it was a different time," East stressed.

Jõhvi, which became a municipality in 2005, now has ambitions to, once again, become a city. Whether or not this dream will come true remains to be seen, however the municipalities involved are already looking at ways to cooperate over the issue.

"Jõhvi is growing in terms of children, which means that we already have a need for more kindergarten places. And Toila has spaces at the moment, in both kindergartens and schools, so we have already talked to Toila Municipality about this," said Toomel.

If the merger of Jõhvi and Toila does finally go ahead following the 2025 local elections, it would become the tenth largest municipality in Estonia with a total population of almost 16,000.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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