E-News Bulletin--December-In This Issue

President's Remarks -  I am honoured to serve as your President for 2014-15. In terms of my background, I have served on the UNSM Board of Directors for six years. During this time I served as Rural Caucus Chair, Rural Caucus Representative, and Vice President. I have also served as the Chair of the UNSM Resolutions Committee and Fall Conference Planning Committee. In 2006 ‐2007, I served as Chair of Atlantic Caucus for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I have been a member of the County of Cumberland Council for over 20 years,  serving 14 years as Warden. I graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science degree and for 37 years owned and operated a grocery store in Amherst. My door is always open and I encourage you to contact me to discuss any issues you may have. You can reach me by email at or by phone at 902-694-4129.

In this issue:

•    President's Activities
•    UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from December 5 meeting
•    Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
•    Provincial Issues
•    Federal Issues
•    FCM
•    Legal Issues

 

President's Activities

For a list of the President's activities over the past month, click here.

UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from December 5 Meeting

 

  • Letter to Environment Minister to follow up on wilderness protected areas resolution (click here for a copy)
  • Letter to Municipal Affairs Minister requesting municipal authority to regulate architecture through the use of site-plan approval process similar to Halifax (click here for a copy)
  • Letter to Minister of Community Services regarding accessibility legislation (click here for a copy)
  • Letter to Minister of Municipal Affairs on building officials training (click here for a copy)
  • Approval of 2015 budget - for a copy click here.
  • Approval of regional meetings on Fridays in January and February 2015 and that UNSM will fund meeting costs
  • Notice to go out to membership regarding Towns Task Force RFP to review gas tax formula
  • Support for UNSM's participation in Halifax's Open Data Initiative which will allow the public free access to certain municipal data.
  • Support for a more proactive approach to the appointment of PVSC Board members
  • Approval of 2015 board meeting dates - February 6, March 20, May 6, June 26, August 21, September 25, November 3, December 4
  • Letter to Municipal Affairs Minister in support of MGA Review and to request that MGA recommendations from Towns Task Force and Fiscal Review be implemented by the Fall of 2015 (click here for a copy)
  • Approval of UNSM involvement as an intervener in the ARMCO- HRM court case which questioned the authority of the MGA and Halifax Charter to allow cash-in-lieu of parkland in development agreements. (Update:  UNSM did intervene, the case has been settled and there is no further action required)

Provincial Issues--December 2014

CONSULTATIONS UNDERWAY:

 

Natural Resources Strategy: The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proceeding with a review of the Mineral Resources Act and is consulting with municipalities on this initiative. As part of the Natural Resources Strategy “The Path We Share” (2011), the department committed to reviewing at least half of its legislation by 2020. The Mineral Resources Act sets out the framework for the administration of mineral exploration, development and production in the province of Nova Scotia. This includes provisions for various licences and leases, reclamation requirements, and collection of royalties. The goal of the review is to provide a modern and responsive legislative framework to support and promote sustainable mineral resource management for the future. Much of the exploration, development and production work takes place in rural Nova Scotia. A discussion paper (http://novascotia.ca/natr/meb/legislation-review/) provides background on some of the topic areas that the review is expected to focus on.

In addition to consulting with the UNSM, the department will also consult with industry organizations and associations, various ENGOs, the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, as well as public and other stakeholder groups over the coming weeks. The results of these consultations will assist in the development of amendments that are to be tabled in the legislature this spring.  In order to respond to the discussion paper visit the website (on or after January 2, 2015) and respond on-line to the questions contained in the document. You will also have an opportunity to upload a written response to the document or position paper. You can access the questionnaire and upload documents at: www.nocascotia.ca/natr. Responses must be submitted by February 2, 2015.

If you would like to meet with the department to present your position paper and/or make suggestions for the revision of the Mineral Resources Act , please contact the department at the coordinates below to set a date and time to meet.

Mineral Resources Act Review
Strategic Policy and Planning Division
Department of Natural Resources
Phone: (902) 424-8186
e-mail:

 

Vegetation Management:  The UARB has directed Nova Scotia Power to work with municipalities to develop a mutually agreeable vegetation management plan by early February, recognizing that power outages (frequency and duration) are related to the management of trees and other vegetation. UNSM is facilitating this discussion, which is the purpose of the workshop on January 9 noted above. If any municipality has comments, please pass them along to UNSM.

 

OTHER:

Aquaculture Regulatory Review: Released on December 16, the report calls for an overhaul of the rules surrounding aquaculture operations, but recommends against banning salmon farms in Nova Scotia. It calls for a classification system where coastal areas are rated as green, yellow or red based on their relative suitability for fin fish aquaculture. The classification of a coastal area would determine how applications for a fin fish licence would be evaluated and the likelihood of an application for such a licence being approved.

The overhaul would give Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister — or an independent board — the right to revoke an operation, require an evaluation of suitability upon a site renewal and bring existing operations under new regulations as soon as practically possible. The authors of the report−Doelle and Lahey− also recommend no new licenses be issued until the new rules are in place. The new rules would also put monitoring of fish farms under the purview of the provincial Environment Department. For a copy of the report, click here: http://www.aquaculturereview.ca/sites/default/files/Aquaculture_Regulatory_Framework_Final_04Dec14.pdf

 

Accessibility Strategy:  The Province issued a discussion paper in November leading to accessibility legislation which will impact all municipalities. UNSM wrote the Minister of Community Services with comments.

 

Animal Control:  The Province released new animal control regulations aimed at better protection of cats and dogs. Majority of enforcement will be done through the SPCA. No costs will be downloaded onto municipalities as a result of these changes.

 

Upcoming Workshops/Events--December 2014

  •  Vegetation Management Workshop - Friday,  January 9, Holiday Inn, Truro, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

  • Financial Condition Indicators:  The Province is committed to releasing the next two years of data in early February, and will be holding regional meetings the latter part of January with municipalities. Watch for details from Municipal Affairs.

  • UNSM Regional meetings: Cape-Breton Strait - Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre - January 23, 11:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m., Colchester-Cumberland-Pictou-East Hants - Municipality of Cumberland Office - February 13, 11:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m., South Western Shore - District of Digby Municipal Office - February 20, 11:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m., Valley - County of Kings - February 25, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., South Shore-HRM - Halifax Hall - February 27, 11:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.

  • oneNS Website - UNSM, in partnership with AMANS, has developed a website dedicated to municipal interests contained within the oneNS Report. The website will be available in early January. Officials will be invited to share their ideas and initiatives through the website.

  • Municipal-Provincial Solid Waste Working Group - This newly formed committee will meet early in the new year. The Working Group formed as a result of a resolution passed at the 2014 UNSM Fall Conference. The purpose of this group is to provide municipal input into the Provincial Solid Waste Regulation Review. Representation will include members from NS Solid Waste Managers/Directors Committee, NS Solid Waste Management Regional Coordinators, UNSM, NS Environment and Municipal Affairs.

Federal Issues--December 2014

  • Green Roofs Resource Manual - A resource manual to assist municipalities in promoting the adoption of green roofs is being offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Green roofs are conventional flat or sloped roofs altered to allow planting on top of them ranging from short, hardy, and drought resistant plants to large trees, shrubs, ponds, and waterfalls. They have numerous benefits for municipalities, including reducing air pollution, helping control and utilize stormwater runoff, lowering energy demand, and providing amenity space. For more information visit http://www.cmhc.ca/.