E-News Bulletin--May-June 2015-In This Issue

In this issue:

•    President's Activities
•    UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from May 6 meeting
•    Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
•    Provincial Issues
•    FCM
•    Other

 

President's Activities

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

UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from May 6 meetings

  • The Board agreed the following items should be included in the Partnership Agreement with the Province: MGA Review, collaboration on provincial decisions impacting municipalities, CAP phase-out, and implementation of recommendations in Towns Task Force, Fiscal Review and Property Tax Study.
  • The Board agreed that UNSM will maintain involvement in the municipal campaign schools for women. They also agreed that UNSM staff participate on a provincial committee to promote municipal engagement leading up to 2016 elections, that UNSM provide online support to assist any individual wishing to run for municipal office or become more involved in municipal government, and to explore the option of purchasing the Association of Municipalities of Ontario's online program "So you want to Run for Council".
  • The Board agreed not to write a letter on behalf of the Towns Caucus in support of moving forward with adopting the Towns Task Force MGA amendments to address various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms including arbitration. Instead, the Board will recommend these amendments be included in the Partnership Agreement.

Upcoming Workshops/Events - May-June 2015

 

Provincial Issues--May-June 2015

New Guide for Property Owners Who Want to Alter Watercourses - June 2, 2015 - A new online guide on altering rivers, streams, lakes and ponds can help property owners and construction and forestry workers follow new rules to protect them.The Guide to Altering Watercourses explains when to call in experts, requirements for work with a higher risk to the environment and how to lessen damage to waterways and aquatic life.Examples of altering watercourse beds or banks include installing a culvert or bridge, or stabilizing banks. Many jobs that can be completed between June 1 and Sept. 30 now only require notifying the department, rather than a more costly and time-consuming approval.The guide explains the process and new rules that came into effect last October.For the guide and more information, go to http://novascotia.ca/nse/watercourse-alteration/.

Government Releases Report on Accessibility Legislation - Government released a panel report on June 3 on accessibility legislation for Nova Scotia. The report provides government with direction and recommendations on what the legislation should contain to make Nova Scotia accessible to all.The new legislation will impact municipalities as the report indicates all Nova Scotians should be able to access the build environment including all publicly owned buildings and recreational facilities such as ball fields, pools and parks.A panel of 22 people from community and government organizations, assisted by volunteer subcommittees, developed the report. Nova Scotians also had the opportunity to provide ideas and feedback through 11 consultation sessions that were held across the province last year.In response to the report, the Province is creating a team to guide the legislative drafting process. This committee will include representation from municipalities. Some of the team's key priorities include identifying a detailed timeline for the legislative process, and key milestones and checkpoints to ensure the work progresses.The team is also tasked with laying out an education and awareness plan so Nova Scotians and businesses understand the new legislation.Following United Nations conventions, the province will phase in accessibility standards over time to make it easier for people, organizations and governments to implement them.Once in place, the accessibility legislation will ensure:

  • every Nova Scotian has the right to live and work to their potential
  • persons with disabilities are able to participate fully in our society
  • barriers are eliminated in employment, public spaces and buildings, service delivery and public transportation
  • better communication between government and businesses
  • a focus on creating better awareness of the need for accessibility in Nova Scotia.

Government is expected to introduce the new accessibility legislation in the fall of 2016.The report is available online and in various accessible formats at http://novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility/.

New Economic Data Shows Economic Value of Culture, Arts, Heritage, Sport - New Statistics Canada data released on June 9 will give Nova Scotians and government a clearer understanding of the economic importance of the province's culture and sport sectors.

The 2010 Culture Satellite Account figures show arts, culture and heritage contribute about $868 million to Nova Scotia's economy, and more than 14,000 jobs across the province.

Sport contributes close to $88 million to the Nova Scotian economy and represents more than 2,100 jobs.This is the first time such detailed, economic culture data for the provinces and territories has been available.

The provinces and territories, worked with Statistics Canada and Canadian Heritage to collect data to calculate the economic value of arts, culture, heritage and sport, and provide comparisons to other industries.

The Culture Satellite Account data can be found at www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/150609/dq150609b-eng.htm.

 

Elections Act Amended to Permit Political Candidates to Earn a Salary while Running for Office--The Province will immediately change a section of the Elections Act that prohibited political candidates from earning a salary while running for office.In April, the Nova Scotia legislature passed an amendment to the province's elections law that would exempt salaries from rules that considered a person's salary to be an illegal campaign contribution. Bill 83, which also includes more than 100 other amendments to the Elections Act, passed third reading, but has yet to be officially proclaimed.On June 15, Premier Stephen McNeil asked that the section of the law for employment remuneration be proclaimed immediately."The case that arose with respect to an independent candidate clearly shows that this section of the law was prohibitive and a deterrent. That's why we felt the change was necessary to begin with," said Premier McNeil. "Why should someone who wants to run independently, who has no access to party finances, be prohibited from running for office? It isn't fair."The other amendments to the Elections Act will be proclaimed at a later date.

Obituaries--May-June 2015

Ms. Ruth Allen, former Warden for the County of Cumberland and Member of UNSM Executive Committee, 1991-1993

Mr. Loran Peppard Morrison, former Police Officer with the Truro Police Department

FCM Issues--May-June 2015

Halifax wins FCM's Green Champion Award--Halifax was the 2015 recipient for FCM's Green Champion Award. Since joining FCM and ICLEI's Partners for Climate Protection Program in 1997, Halifax has achieved all five program milestones for municipal energy management. It has also successfully delivered 12 innovative sustainability plans, studies and projects supported by FCM's Green Municipal Fund. Its award-winning Solar City program has also become a model for property assessed renewable energy (or PACE) generation across Canada.

Nova Scotia Representatives Elected to FCM Board--The following Nova Scotia representatives were elected to the FCM Board of Directors:

  • Mayor David Corkum, Town of Kentville
  • Councillor Tom Taggart, County of Colchester
  • Councillor Bill Karsten, Halifax

Warden Keith Hunter, County of Cumberland was also appointed to the FCM Board as UNSM President.

FCM Launches Roadmap for Federal Election 2015--At its 2015 Annual Conference, FCM launched its Roadmap for Stronger Cities and Communities today. The Roadmap presents practical solutions to the challenges Canadians face every day. It points the way towards reducing commute times, safer roads and bridges, cleaner water and more affordable housing. For a copy of the roadmap, click here.

Green Toolbox for Growing Sustainable Municipalities--May-June 2015

The Green ToolBox - For Growing Sustainable MunicipalitiesLeaf for Green ToolBox

From UNSM’s Municipal Sustainability Office

May-June 2015

 

 Resources

UNSM Launches its Wind Energy Fact Sheets for Nova Scotia Municipalities!

Every technology that generates electricity, from non-renewable or renewable sources, presents challenges and opportunities. Balanced comparison from ecological, social and financial perspectives can help communities make informed decisions about their energy future. UNSM’s Wind Energy Fact Sheets for Nova Scotia Municipalities are designed to give elected officials, municipal staff and interested citizens balanced information on wind energy development.Windmill Picture

The fact sheets focus on wind energy in the context of other renewable and non-renewable energy sources. The package of ten can be used as a set or individually; they can be skimmed, or mined for detail. Drawing on research from existing resources and best practices, they provide Nova Scotia-specific content on topics related to wind energy development and a comprehensive source of information to support municipalities in making informed decisions on wind energy.

A printed copy of the wind energy fact sheets was been mailed to each municipality (addressed the mayor or warden).  They are also available for download by clicking here.

 For more information, please contact Debbie at 902 423-8312 or .

 

FCM Offers New Resources on Alternative Financing Mechanisms

Public infrastructure is the backbone of our economy and quality of life, but after decades of under investment, Canada is only just beginning to confront its infrastructure deficit.  Municipal governments are working to overcome these challenges by advancing new forms of development through Integrated Community Sustainability Plans, Community Energy Plans, Climate Change Action Plans and more. Beyond planning, new tools are required to finance energy and climate change projects.
 
FCM has developed a series of fact sheets on twelve different financing mechanisms. Click on
alternative financing mechanism resources to access these new fact sheets.

This compendium of financing mechanisms features some of the tools available to municipalities from standard financial tools, such as development charges and user fees, to more innovative types of financing such as commuter taxes, incremental financing or tax-base sharing.

No single financial mechanism will work in all communities — each has its pros and cons and not all are applicable to every type of infrastructure. This sampling of alternative financial mechanisms aims to provide information on developing new sources of funding, financing and revenues, or use existing tools to greater advantage.

Some international examples are shared here for information purposes only; while others apply only to certain provinces. The focus is on existing mechanisms that can be used in most, if not all, Canadian municipalities without having to amend existing federal, provincial or territorial legislation.  The following is a list of the financing mechanism fact sheets available. 

 

Green Municipal Fund (GMF) Update:  A Renewed Funding Offer

After extensive research and consultation with municipalities, their partners, and other sustainability stakeholders, FCM has renewed the GMF funding offer to remain responsive and relevant to municipal sustainability needs.

To best manage the funding available and to support the strongest initiatives, these updates went into effect on April 1, 2015:

  • An updated competitive selection process for capital projects in the energy, transportation, waste and water sectors
  • Updated eligibility criteria and funding limits for all funding streams
  • An updated application process, as well as new application forms and support tools for applicants

The table below provides an overview of the GMF updates.

Updates Previous offer Renewed offer
In effect April 1, 2015
Competitive selection process (energy, transportation, waste and water capital projects)
  • Applications accepted year-round; funding decisions made six times per year
  • Applications accepted year-round; funding decisions made twice per year (February and September)
  • Applicants for energy, transportation, waste and water capital project funding undergo an Initial Review before completing the full application form
Eligibility
  • Plans: funding for sustainable neighbourhood action plans, community brownfield action plans and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans
  • No change
  • Feasibility studies and field tests: must align with criteria for capital projects
  • Must align with updated criteria for capital projects
  • Field tests are now called pilot projects
Funding limits and eligible costs
  • Plans: Up to 50% of eligible costs; maximum grant of $175,000  
  • No changes
  • Feasibility studies: Up to 50% of eligible costs; maximum grant of $175,000  
  • No changes
  • Field tests: Up to 50% of eligible costs; maximum grant of $175,000
  • Now called pilot projects
  • Maximum funding amount raised from $175,000 to $350,000
  • Capital projects energy, transportation, waste and water: Loans for up to 80% of eligible costs to a maximum of $10 million combined with a grant for up to 20% of the loan amount; high-ranking projects may qualify for higher loan amounts under certain provisions.
  • Loans for up to 80% of eligible costs to a maximum of $5 million, combined with a grant for up to 15% the loan amount
  • Applicants with high-ranking projects may be eligible for a loan of up to $10 million combined with a grant for 15% the loan amount    
  • Capital projects — brownfields: Loans for up to 80% of eligible costs (no loan limit)*
  • No changes
Application form and resources  

*Subject to various conditions and approval

 

If you have questions about these updates, please contact a GMF Advisor at 613-907-6208 or 1-877-997-9926.  You can also visit FCM’s website for more information.

 

   For more information about the initiatives included in the Green Toolbox, please contact Debbie Nielsen, Municipal Sustainability Coordinator by telephone (423-8312)or e-mail ().

Other Issues - May-June 2015

Quarry Quandary - Northern Construction Enterprises Inc. v Halifax (Regional Municipality)
Kevin Latimer, Q.C. and Navid Dehghani, Summer Student, Cox & Palmer

In this decision (released on May 12, 2015), the Court of Appeal limits a municipality’s jurisdiction to regulate quarries and declares the subject by-law invalid.

In June, 2011 Northern Construction filed an application with the Nova Scotia Department of Environment to develop and operate an aggregate quarry on lands owned by Northern Construction near the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The Nova Scotia Department of Environment required proof of municipal authorization for the project.

In April, 2012 the Halifax Regional Municipality (“HRM”) refused to issue a Development Permit to Northern Construction on the basis that the proposed operations would comprise “extractive facilities” prohibited under section 2.29 of the Land Use By-law for planning districts 14 and 17 (“LUB”) made pursuant to the HRM Charter. HRM’s refusal led to the rejection of Northern’s application with the Nova Scotia Department of Environment in July, 2012.

Northern Construction then appealed HRM’s refusal to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. In January, 2013 the Board dismissed the appeal. Northern Construction then applied to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to declare HRM’s by-law invalid.  HRM argued that rock crushing and associated equipment in a quarry could be regulated by HRM in its LUB and that it was prohibited at the proposed site.  Northern’s application was refused and the by-law was upheld, which led to the appeal to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

On the appeal, the Court of Appeal considered whether HRM had authority to regulate by Land Use By-law the use of rock crushing equipment and other essential aggregate production activities within an aggregate quarry.  In short, was section 2.29 of the by-law a valid exercise of municipal authority?

The Court cited the broad and purposive approach to the interpretation of municipal legislation set out in Halifax (Regional Municipality) v Ed DeWolfe Trucking Ltd, and explained that the modern municipality requires “greater flexibility in carrying out its statutory responsibilities”.

One of the expressed purposes of the HRM Charter is to protect the Province’s interest in the use and development of land. The court declared that the Province has exclusive jurisdiction over the location of quarries and by granting authority to HRM through the HRM Charter the Province excluded any authority over the actual quarries and only development adjacent to quarries could be regulated by the municipality.

The court found that the extraction process at quarries involves blasting operations and all activities fundamental to it, which could include a crushing spread, a scale house, a wash station and a staging area for equipment and storage. The court held that the by-law limited activities fundamental to extraction and unilaterally restricted the Province’s authority to regulate the location of quarries where crushing and other related activities were performed, since the by-law prohibited any associated work at an extraction site other than blasting of rocks.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeal overturned the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia’s decision by declaring section 2.29 of HRM’s by-law invalid and held that Northern Construction does not require HRM’s approval but, rather, only a provincial approval for the proposed quarry.  The Court also directed that any replacement provision for section 2.29 must apply only to land “adjacent to . . . quarries” as described in the decision.

There is no automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada from the decision.  In order to overturn the decision, a party would require leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada.  

While HRM’s by-law was created based on the HRM Charter, the Municipal Government Act contains an identical enabling provision that allows municipalities in the Province to “regulate the location of developments adjacent to pits and quarries”.  The recent decision should prompt municipalities to review existing by-laws and practices with respect to regulation of quarry facilities.  It remains to be seen how the Province will respond to the ruling.

 

Kevin Latimer, Q.C. of Cox & Palmer, counsel to UNSM, practices in the areas of municipal and planning law, administrative and public law litigation and can be contacted at (902) 491-4212 or email at