E-News Bulletin--July-August 2015-In This Issue

New Minister of Municipal Affairs - President Hunter would like to welcome Minister Zach Churchill as the new Minister of Municipal Affairs. Minister Churchill was first elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly as MLA for Yarmouth in a by-election in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. In addition to serving as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Emergency Management Office, he is also Minister of Communications Nova Scotia. Prior to his elected position, he was a policy analyst and a student organizer. President Hunter looks forward to working with Minister Churchill on a number of significant files, including the new partnership agreement. The UNSM wishes to thank former Minister Furey for his work with municipalities. Minister Furey was always considerate of UNSM, and worked hard to understand and acknowledge the many issues and challenges facing municipalities. In his time as minister, he met with all municipal councils and attended many UNSM events.

Federal Election -

Help FCM make local issues election issues in 2015 -To help make municipal issues front and centre in the upcoming federal election, FCM has released A Roadmap for Strong Cities and Communities and called for a federal leaders’ debate.  The leaders of the Green Party, the NDP and the Liberals have already agreed to participate in a debate. Discussions are ongoing with the Conservative Party and potential media partners.  A debate would bring unprecedented profile to key issues and ensure that all parties have a plan to work with municipal governments. Please join FCM in calling for a leaders debate about municipal issues. Visit hometownproud.fcm.ca.

In this issue:

•    President's Activities
•    UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from June 26 meeting
•    Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
•    Provincial Issues
•    Federal Issues
•    FCM
•    Other Announcements
 

President's Activities

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

UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from June 26 meeting

  • The Board reconfirmed its support of the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a means to offset the cost of solid waste. UNSM members had previously passed a resolution calling for EPR.  Discussions will take place with municipalities on the EPR model to be developed based on industry paying 100 per cent of the costs or partial costs.
  • The Board reaffirmed its support of all the recommendations contained in the Towns Task Force and will convey this in a letter to the Municipal Affairs Minister.
  • The Board noted the end of the Municipal Sustainability Office and thanked Debbie Nielson for her efforts and success as the Sustainability Coordinator over the last six  years. UNSM will continue to promote sustainability within available resources.
  • The Board approved a change to the UNSM Long Service Awards. Upon request, a scroll thanking members for more than ten years of service may be awarded when the member retires from municipal government.   
  • The Board approved a recommendation from the Rural Caucus to write the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal requesting the public release of the business case for increasing fares on Nova Scotia ferries.
  • The Board approved a joint organizational review with the Association of Municipal Administrators to explore how the operational efficiencies and effectiveness of both organizations could be improved.

Provincial Issues--July-August 2015

12-Month Notice Letter - On July 9, the UNSM office received a 12-month notice letter from Municipal Affairs. The letter outlines plans for legislative, regulatory or policy changes from various provincial departments for 2016-17 that could impact municipalities. For a copy of the letter, click here.

Municipal Elections Act changes - Municipal Affairs is proposing a number of changes to the Municipal Elections Act which would be in place prior to the 2016 municipal elections. Four workshops were held in July throughout the province to discuss the proposed changes. Topics discussed included recommendations from the Elections Review Committee, campaign financing, election awareness efforts (voter turnout, campaign schools), potential future role of Elections Nova Scotia, and update from new Municipal Elections Officer Bernie White.  Councils are being asked to provide written comments to Municipal Affairs.

Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Changes - The Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco (AGFT) division of Service Nova Scotia is seeking municipal input into changes to the Liquor Licensing Regulations. The proposed amendments are as follows:

  1. Allowing Eating Establishments to provide up to two (2) drinks to a customer without the requirement to order food. If a customer would like in excess of two (2) drinks then they would have to order a meal, as is the case under the present regulations.
  2. Making the entire province wet and remove the requirement for plebiscites which are impediments to increasing the number of  AGFT Licensees who sell Department of Environment - Inspectors
  3. Alcohol on premises (bars and restaurants) and NSLC stores that sell alcohol.

Deadline for municipalities to respond to these proposed amendments is the end of September.

Nova Scotia Environment Working on Best-in-Class Inspection and Enforcement - On July 1, the inspection, compliance and enforcement functions from several provincial departments moved to Nova Scotia Environment, under a new Environmental Health and Food Safety Division.

NSE’s roles and responsibilities now include

  • public health inspectors and other staff in the Environmental Health Division who support and enforce legislation aimed at protecting health (new body art regulations and tobacco control) and who address public health hazards
  • conservation officers responsible for protecting forest resources, protected areas, wildlife, parks, beaches, wildfire investigations, as well as hunting and fishing compliance
  • staff involved in compliance, regulatory inspection and enforcement of regulations for fish processing, buying and aquaculture  
  • regulatory inspectors from the Agriculture and Food Operators branch, the Food Protection Division, and the Agriculture Protection Section
  • those responsible for most field operations relating to environmental protection who work on requests for environmental assistance, approvals and investigations.

NSE states that by combining all of these functions at NSE, the province is working toward a more coordinated, consistent and fair way to do inspection and enforcement across the province. The aim is to improve the protection of public health and the environment and help support a business climate. One reason for consolidating these roles at NSE was to lessen the potential for conflict in departments that need to focus on sector growth. By removing the compliance/enforcement aspect from their work, these departments can now focus on helping to grow the forestry, fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture sectors.

Meanwhile, NSE is working on clearer rules for business aligned with environmental risk and compliance history. It’s also streamlining processes, making it easier for businesses through online forms, applications and notifications -- to help reduce red tape and increase environmental protection.  Learn more by clicking here.

New Guide on Surface Water Withdrawal - NSE recognizes good clean abundant water is essential for people and the environment- a valuable resource providing our drinking water, supplying Nova Scotian businesses with water and supporting important industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and power generation.

An updated Guide on Surface Water Withdrawal from Nova Scotia Environment explains why approvals are necessary for withdrawals over 23,000 litres a day.  It also outlines the information required to complete an application, including renewals and changes to existing approvals. The guide features:

  • Three categories of approvals, based on environmental risk
  • Requirements for renewals and amendments to existing approvals
  • Submission requirements outlined by category and organized in a quick-view table
  • Definitions of terms and descriptions to enhance clarity
  • Examples of the requirements for golf courses, crop irrigation, manufacturing, etc.
  • Water conservation plans – clarifies this is now a requirement for all applications, and
  • Requirements for wetlands.

Learn more here.

Upcoming Workshops/Events - July-August 2015

  • MGA Review - During the last two weeks of September the Province is planning to hold regional sessions to discuss the upcoming MGA review. The purpose of these sessions is to explain the process being undertaken for the review and to provide ways to identify issues and opportunities for change in the way municipalities operate. More details to follow. 
  • Annual Conference Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police and Police  Governance Board - September 17-19, Truro, NS.  Registration is due by August 7.  Please contact Valerie Munroe for registration information ()­.

  • Extended Producer Responsibility Workshop - October 23. The Province is considering Extended Producer Responsibility regulations which will impact the manner in which paper and packaging is funded, collected and processed. The workshop will outline the proposed new model including benefits and challenges for municipalities. The workshop will provide an opportunity for municipal officials to comment on the proposed regulations.

Click here for an article on Extended Producer Responsibility, by UNSM Solicitor, Kevin Latimer

Federal Issues--July-August 2015

National Disaster Mitigation Program - Public Safety Canada has released the National Disaster Mitigation Program submission timelines for 2016-2017 projects.

In recognition of increasing disaster risks and costs, the 2014 federal budget earmarked $200 million over five years to establish the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) as part of the Government's commitment to build safer and more resilient communities. The NDMP will address rising flood risks and costs, and build the foundation for informed mitigation investments that could reduce, or even negate, the effects of flood events in the future.

The NDMP was established in April 2015 to reduce the impacts of natural disasters on Canadians by:

  • Focusing investments on significant, recurring flood risk and costs; and
  • Advancing work to facilitate private residential insurance for overland flooding.

Provincial governments are the eligible recipients for funding under the NDMP. However, provincial authorities may collaborate with and redistribute funding to eligible entities, such as municipal governments, public sector bodies, private sector bodies, band councils, international non-government organizations or any combination of these entities.

To learn more about the National Disaster Mitigation Program, please visit the Public Safety Canada Website

2016-2017 Project Submission Timelines

  • Year 2 (2016-2017)
  • August 1st, 2015: Call for 2016-2017 proposals
  • October 8th, 2015: Individual project proposal submission deadline to Emergency Management Office
  • October 31, 2015: Individual project proposal submission deadline to Public Safety Canada
  • November 1st – 30, 2015: Public Safety Canada assessment of proposals
  • February – March 2016: Finalize negotiation and signature contribution agreements
  • ASAP: Funding Flows

For further information contact the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office by email or by phone 1 (902) 424-5620.

New Signage Reporting Requirements for Gas Tax Funding (GTF) Projects - Infrastructure Canada has requirements for signage reporting to aid in the recognition of federal contributions to GTF projects.   As such, the federal government requires a monthly signage report from the Province which tracks the installation of new signs on all municipal GTF projects.  As part of the terms of the Municipal Funding Agreement signed last year, each municipality agreed to inform the Province when projects signs were installed.  UNSM is assisting the Province in collecting this information, to help meet the requirements of the program and raise the profile of Nova Scotia’s GTF projects.  For more information, please call Hardy Stuckless at 424-2770.

Basically, the signage policy requires the following:

  • An Economic Action Plan Sign is required on all municipal projects, either fully or partially funded by GTF, if funding exceeds $20,000.  (exceptions include:   Active Transportation projects – the requirement is for project over $5,000 and Capacity Building projects - which do not require any signage)
  • All signs must be erected in a prominent location in the vicinity of the project. 
  • Signs are required to be visible for the duration of the project, as well as 30 days before and 30 days after construction ends.
  • Respecting the Official Languages Act, all signs must be bilingual.

More information on project signage requirements can be found in your Municipal Funding Agreement (schedule E, section 2, page 22).  Also, the Gas Tax Signage Policy and Installation Guide provides information on the production and installation of federal signs for GTF projects.  This guide and the graphic signage files can be found at 

For the Province’s monthly signage report to Infrastructure Canada, UNSM will seek to collect the following information from you for all signs installed since the previous report:

  • Name of your municipality
  • Project name
  • Project start date
  • Anticipated project completion date
  • Sign installation date

As you know, communications is important and by recognizing Infrastructure Canada’s support for GTF projects we will demonstrate the value of this federal funding to our municipalities.  UNSM will be in touch later this month to collect information for the next signage report.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Debbie Nielsen at UNSM ( or 902 423-8312).