e-News Bulletin--January-February 2013

President's Message

russell-walker

Councillor Russell Walker

I hope everyone is enjoying the winter and that you purchased a good snow blower!

I would like to update you on a number of activities that have transpired over the past few months.

On January 31, myself and UNSM Executive members met with a number of provincial ministers for a round table meeting. Ministers in attendance included John MacDonell (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations), Sterling Belliveau (Environment and Fisheries and Aquaculture), Ross Landry (Justice), Leonard Preyra (Communities, Culture and Heritage), and Maurice Smith (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal). The UNSM presented the following items:

  • Building the Provincial -Municipal Relationship
  • UNSM Pre-Budget Submission
  • Fiscal Review
  • Infrastructure Program
  • Towns Task Force Update
  • Regional Enterprise Networks.

The UNSM Executive highlighted the following points with respect to our pre-budget submission:

  • UNSM recognizes the Province's “Back to Balance” goal
  • Municipalities have contributed to this goal through provincial changes to the MOU ($50 million +)
  • At a minimum UNSM expects a “Do No Harm” approach with no further unexpected financial impacts on municipal budgets
  • Federal-Provincial regulations will have enormous financial impacts on Nova Scotia  municipalities – well over $1 Billion
  • Municipal expenditures are growing slightly less than provincial expenditures
  • UNSM recognizes that municipalities must be viable – this is being addressed through the Towns Task Force and Fiscal Review
  • Municipalities expect more support in 2014-15

Is the Majority Always Right?

By Eli Mina, M.Sc.

At a recent workshop, a newly elected municipal official said this: "A wise person taught me that, with a Council of seven members, the most important number is four. With four votes you can change policy. With four votes you can provide exceptional leadership. With four votes you are at liberty to govern however you wish. "

On the surface, this seems like good practical advice. After all, in parliamentary democracies, a fundamental principle of decision making is: The majority rules. In order to adopt a proposal or enforce a measure, a voting body requires that more members vote yes than vote no. If not, the proposal is defeated. With this in mind, the numbers are "the only thing that matters." Right? Not so. Something significant is missing.

Here is the problem: Have you ever observed an aggressive and impatient majority forcing its will on a helpless minority by cutting off debate prematurely? Ever witnessed a majority being stubbornly entrenched and unwilling to tolerate new data that might lead to enlightened and thoughtful decisions? In such cases, there may very well be enough votes in the affirmative, but this does not change the fact that the decision-making process is flawed, possibly leading to bad decisions that the majority may live to regret.

NS--Property Information Available Free On-line

Nova Scotians will now have more information about their property assessments through free online access to sales data from the Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) effective January 14.

Previously, sales information used for property assessments was not broadly available to the public and only provided to owners who appealed a property assessment.

Property sales data on comparable properties from July 2010 will be available online at www.pvsc.ca.

Property sales data is used for property assessment purposes. Making this information more easily available will allow property owners to make informed decisions about whether or not to appeal their property assessment based upon market values.

The Nova Scotia Association of Realtors is pleased to see these changes to assessment appeals and access to information.

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations amended the Municipal Government Act in the spring of 2012 to allow for the disclosure of property sales prices and related information to the public.

The Assessment Act was also amended to extend the property assessment appeal period from 21 days to 31 days, change the name of the Regional Assessment Appeal Court to the Nova Scotia Assessment Appeal Tribunal and clarify its authority. These changes went into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Legislation Protecting Canada's Seniors Comes into Force

The Federal Government has introduced the Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act which protects seniors by ensuring tougher sentences for those who take advantage of elderly Canadians. Under the amendments to the Criminal Code, evidence that an offence had a significant impact on the victims due to their age – and other personal circumstances such as their health or financial situation – will now be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

The Government addresses elder abuse in a number of ways, including its elder abuse awareness campaigns and the New Horizons for Seniors Program. In 2011, the Government increased its investment in this program, which includes projects to increase elder abuse awareness, by $5 million per year, bringing its annual budget to $45 million.

More information about elder abuse can be found at www.seniors.gc.ca.  An online version of the Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act is available at www.parl.gc.ca.

Arts and Culture Taskforce Presents Recommendations to City of Charlottetown

The Arts and Culture Taskforce presented 29 recommendations to the City of Charlottetown on January 15 as part of a new arts and culture strategy for the Capital City.

The recommendations include: identifying potential sources of new revenue for arts and cultural activity; establishing a Cultural Affairs Officer position and a permanent advisory council; creating an annual City arts and culture awards program and an Artist-In-Residence or Open Studio program; designing ways to increase the business community’s support of and investment in the arts; promoting and commissioning more work by PEI artists; further embedding arts and culture in the City’s promotional tools and resources; creating ways for artists to use empty buildings, offices and outdoor spaces for rehearsal, performances or artistic creation; and expanding the Heritage Incentive Program.

The full list of recommendations can be found online at: www.charlottetown.ca  by clicking on the Arts and Culture Taskforce Report button. The report is also available at www.culturepei.ca.

University of Alberta Launches Canadian Sustainability Plan Inventory

The University of Alberta’s Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities (ACSRC) announced on January 28 the launch of the Canadian Sustainability Plan Inventory (CSPI). This searchable online inventory is the most comprehensive collection of sustainability plans in Canada. The CSPI can be accessed here.  Sustainability in rural communities of Canada has received increased attention at the local and national scales. Canada’s Federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) made sustainability planning a key part of infrastructure and socio-economic development of communities across Canada. Slated to ultimately invest approximately $13 billion in sustainable municipal infrastructure such as transit, waste management, water and green energy by 2015, the GTF also provided support to municipalities for the development of Integrated Community Sustainability Plans (ICSPs).

Many communities have now completed ICSPs or a provincial variant and these represent a wide range of approaches, toolkits, strategies and content within Alberta and from across the country. As such, there is no single solution or model for sustainability planning. Indeed, there is considerable variation in emphases among the targeted dimensions of sustainability and these emphases vary by region and by population size. This inventory provides a means for rural communities, researchers, and development practitioners to access how other communities from across Canada have approached sustainability planning in terms of process, content and areas of concentration.

Silver Economy Summit

The Department of Seniors is pleased to announce the Silver Economy Summit will be taking place April 16 - 18th at the Westin Hotel in Halifax.  The “silver economy” is the notion that an aging population is increasingly driving the production of goods and services worldwide.  In Canada, and in countries across the globe, government, businesses, and all sectors, are faced with the challenge of adapting their services and products for an aging population.  The silver economy is about understanding the needs, and interests, of this demographic and changing to meet them.

For more information, and to register, call Agenda Managers at: Call Local: 422-1886 / Toll-Free (within Canada): 1-877-731-1333. Conference Fees (includes dinner banquet and dessert reception on April 17th). Early Bird Rate: $250.00 / Regular Rate: $350.00. Early Bird Rate (student, seniors and non-profit organizations): $150.00 / Regular Rate: $250.00

CUTA Releases Report on the Value Case for Accessible Transit in Canada

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) has released a report highlighting the economic and social benefits of accessible transit in Canada. The report was developed with the underlying key themes of universal accessibility, inclusion, participation, and health, which emerged from case study reviews, consultation interviews, and a multiple account evaluation framework. Click here to download a copy of the report, click the following link.  For additional information on CUTA, visit their website: www.cutaactu.ca

Nova Scotia Minimum Wage Increase

The minimum wage in Nova Scotia will increase to $10.30 per hour on April 1, 2013.  The minimum wage for inexperienced workers will increase to $9.80 per hour. The increase to $10.30 is based on the 2012 national Consumer Price Index.  For details about how the minimum wage is set, please see the Minimum Wage Orders, which can be found here.

Province Supports First Provincial Council for Non-Profits

Non-profit and voluntary organizations are joining forces to better meet the needs of people and communities across Nova Scotia.

The province is investing $450,000 towards a new Community Sector Council to help build stronger non-profit organizations. The sector council will bring non-profits together to learn from each other and share human resource and financial expertise, training practices, and research.

Non-profit organizations provide a wide range of services to Nova Scotians, from child care to career counselling, to co-ordinating sports teams, running shelters for the homeless, to managing museums.

For more information on the Community Sector Council, visit www.gov.ns.ca/lae/volunteerism.

The Green ToolBox - For Growing Sustainable Municipalities - January-February 2013

 
 

The Green ToolBox - For Growing Sustainable Municipalities - March 2012

From UNSM’s Municipal Sustainability Office January-February 2013

For more information about the initiatives included in the Green Toolbox, please contact Debbie Nielsen, Municipal Sustainability Coordinator at 423-8312 or e-mail: .mapleleaf

Green Toolbox--Programs & Resources

NOVA SCOTIA YOUTH CONSERVATION CORPS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR ITS 2013 SUMMER PROGRAM APPLICATION DEADLINE:

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 BY MIDNIGHT

Clean Nova Scotia is pleased to announce that the Community Partners Project Application Form is now available for the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps (NSYCC) 2013 Summer Program. This is an opportunity for Nova Scotian organizations to deliver an environmental project this summer with financial support for the wages of two to four youth.  

PROGRAM OVERVIEW
The NSYCC program’s goal is to build connections between young people (aged 17–30) and local community organizations to stimulate stewardship for the natural environment and the emergence of young community leaders.  This is done through engaging youth in the environmental field through hands-on work experience and knowledge sharing with their peers and mentors.

Green Toolbox--Events

LIVING SHORELINES: AN APPLIED WORKSHOP ON COASTAL EROSION
MARCH 18 FROM 9 AM TO 5 PM
BEST WESTERN HOTEL, TRURO, NOVA SCOTIA
The Ecology Action Centre invites you to attend “Living Shorelines: An Applied Workshop on Coastal Erosion” on March 18th in Truro. This workshop is intended to help practitioners (contractors, landscapers, coastal land owners, planners, and regulatory agencies, municipal staff and councilors) learn new approaches to managing coastal erosion. The workshop will showcase conditions along Nova Scotia's Northumberland Shore; however, participants working or living in other parts of the province will find the workshop relevant.

 As the rate of coastal change increases in many parts of Nova Scotia, landowners, municipalities, and government agencies are facing difficult decisions on how to best manage these changes. This workshop will explore alternative 'living shorelines' approaches to managing erosion that are being used locally and elsewhere in North America. Workshop topics will include:

  • Coastal processes in the Northumberland Strait
  • Climate change projections for the area
  • Current use and impacts of shoreline hardening approaches
  • Living Shorelines’ principles, approaches and case studies

For further information, please contact Courtney Steeves, at .

 

2013 RENEWABLE ENERGY CONFERENCE:  STORAGERenewable Energy
April 16 & 17, 2013
World Trade & Convention Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Storage is the theme of this year's RenewableEnergy Conference, which will explore new concepts being designed to help renewable energy become a more competitive and sustainable supply for consumers. Many wind and solar energy developers are courting the latest technologies, including pump storage utilizing underwater ballons or underground caverns, but what's next? What challenges will these new technologies face when aligning with existing infrastructure? Is storage truly the "missing link" to developing renewable energy projects? In addition to the conference sessions, delegates have the opportunity to visit the exhibit showcase to view the latest in products and services relating to renewable energy supply.

For more information, contact Alberte LeBlanc at (902) 454-4714 or

 

SPECIES AT RISK RECOVERY IN ATLANTIC CANADA: BEST PRACTICES, COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES, & TECHNIQUES THAT WORK FOR STEWARDSHIP 
MAY 15 & 16 IN WOLFVILLE
The Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute is hosting a meeting to strengthen the species at risk stewardship community in Atlantic Canada. If you work with species at risk, habitat stewardship, or human dimensions of conservation, you are encouraged to attend.  Key workshop topics include:

  • Using new tools for stewardship
  • Connecting science and stewardship for recovery
  • How to effectively communicate science
  • How to work with volunteers and collaborate with groups

For more information, contact:  or visit  www.merseytobeatic.ca/.  The Workshop registration is $50.