E-News Bulletin--November-December 2015-In This Issue

In this issue:

  • Welcome New President--Councillor Claire Detheridge
  • New Board Members 2015-2016
  • President's Activities
  • UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from November 3 meeting
  • UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from December 4 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.

Welcome to New President: Councillor Claire Detheridge, Cape Breton Regional Municipality

Claire Detheridge is a municipal councillor with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. First elected in 1982, she recently completed her 33rd year in municipal office.

Claire has served on all major committees of CBRM Council, including two terms as Deputy Mayor. She has served as chair of the NS Police Boards, has been on the RRFB Board since 2010.

For a number of years she was a member of the Library Boards Association of NS and has served as Chair of the Cape Breton Regional Library Board.

Claire has served on the UNSM Board of Directors for six years. During this time she has served as Regional Caucus Chair, Regional Caucus Representative, Vice President, and now President. She has also served as the Chair of the Resolutions Committee and Chair of the Fall Conference Planning Committee for 2015.

In her role as Vice President, she served on the Fiscal Review Committee, attended all Round Table discussions with provincial ministers, and has been involved with issues such as the Capped Assessment Program (CAP) and the Property Tax Review Study.

Claire is passionate about the important role municipalities play in making Nova Scotia a healthier, more welcoming place to live, work and play.

Claire believes the oneNS Report will play a large role in helping the province grow.

Board Members for 2015-2016

UNSM Board of Directors—2015-2016

 

President:                                       Councillor Claire Detheridge, Cape Breton Regional Municipality
Vice-President:                               Councillor Laurie Murley, Town of Windsor 
Immediate Past-President:             Warden Keith Hunter, County of Cumberland 
Regional Caucus Chair:                   Councillor Bill Karsten, Halifax Regional Municipality 
Rural Caucus Chair:                         Mayor Don Downe, District of Lunenburg 
Town Caucus Chair:                         Mayor Pam Mood, Town of Yarmouth 
Regional Caucus Representative Councillor Clarence Prince, Cape Breton Regional Municipality 
Regional Caucus Representative:     Councillor Jennifer Watts, Halifax Regional Municipality 
Rural Caucus Representative:           Warden Linda Gregory, District of Digby 
Rural Caucus Representative:           Vacant
Town Caucus Representative:           Mayor Paul Beazley, Town of Windsor 
Town Caucus Representative:           Mayor David Walker, Town of Bridgewater 
AMA Representative:                       Mr. Greg Herrett, CAO, Town of Amherst

UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from November 3 meeting

  • UNSM will reach out to First Nations community to discuss the relationship between municipalities and First Nations
  • The Board agreed to retain the current dues formula for the allocation of UNSM annual fees for the 2016 budget year based on the following: All units with the exception of those units paying the capped membership fee pay a base fee of $1000; A combination of the unit's population and assessment be used to calculate the remaining dues based on 85 per cent population and 15 per cent assessment; A capped fee is annually established by the Board. This was subsequently passed at the Annual General Meeting
  • Councillor Ivan Doncaster from CBRM was selected to be the UNSM representative on the Province's Asset Management Working Group. In further discussions with the province, Councillor Greg Hemming was added to represent the rural voice.
  • The Board selected the following UNSM members to the PVSC Board of Directors: Councillor Madeleine Daues, Town of Yarmouth (Town Position) and Councillor Alex Morrison, County of Annapolis, (Rural Position).
  • The UNSM host a forestry workshop in 2016.
  • UNSM will undertake the following strategy to tackle the CAP: Encourage individual municipalities to inform their residents of the implications of the property tax. As budgets are prepared, each municipality should indicate if the tax rate would be lower without the CAP, and demonstrate the differences in taxes being paid on similar properties if one has been recently purchased. UNSM should work with the Real Estate industry to encourage them to include not only the property taxes paid in the previous year, but to include the projected taxes if the property was sold. UNSM should write an editorial to the newspapers on the implications of the CAP. Municipalities should be encouraged to introduce or increase their property tax rebate program or deferral program for low-income property owners. As well, during budget debates, councils should indicate the reasons for any tax increases over and above what would occur if the average taxes were frozen from last year's level. This increased transparency would build more confidence in local government, and help dispel the concept that increased assessments alone drive increased taxes.
  • The Board will undertake a one-day meeting to further discuss the municipal position on the Partnership Agreement.

UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from December 4 meeting

  • The Board agreed to send a letter of support for the AT Policy Framework.
  • The Board approved Active Transportation Committee’s Terms of Reference to include two Elected Officials. An Expression of Interest to serve on the Active Transportation Committee will be sent out to the Membership in the near future.
  • The Board approved meeting dates for 2016.
  • The Board asked to see supporting documents of a PVSC Board member which PVSC is asking for re-appointment. The selection will be approved via e-mail from the Board.
  • The Board approved that UNSM staff work with PVSC and AMA to develop a communications strategy around the CAP with a view to providing support material for elected officials and materials to help the public understand the issues.
  • The Board approved the Budget for 2016. There will be no increase in the total dues collected, but individual municipalities may see an increase or decrease based on the formula.

Federal Issues--November-December 2015

Refined Criteria for the Community Energy Category: On December 1st, Infrastructure Canada released a schedule revising the criteria for the Community Energy Systems category as it relates to new building construction and municipal building retrofits. The new schedule provides further detail. 

Under the Community Energy Systems category, energy-efficient components of new building construction and building retrofits may be eligible for Gas Tax Funds (GTF), if they meet the following criteria:

New Building Construction:

  • An energy audit is NOT required if the energy efficiency gained from the new building components can be measured by the number of kilowatt hours or litres of fuel saved.
  • Only the cost differences of those energy efficient building components that exceed National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) standards are eligible for GTF. Municipalities are required to maintain documentation of these components.

 Municipal Building Retrofit:

  • An energy audit IS required to show the number of kilowatt hours or litres of fuel saved from the new energy efficient upgrades.
  • Only the cost differences of those energy efficient upgrades that exceed NBCC standards are eligible for GTF. Municipalities are required to maintain documentation of these components.
  • The cost for an energy audit is GTF-eligible.

It is recommended that municipalities contact the Province to confirm eligibility before beginning any new building construction or building retrofit project for which they intend to use GTF. For further clarification on this revision or to discuss project eligibility, please contact Hardy Stuckless, Manager of Infrastructure Programs, Department of Municipal Affairs at 902 424-2770 or .

 

 

Federal MPs:  UNSM is requesting a meeting with the Nova Scotia MPs to discuss the municipal situation in Nova Scotia. Members are encouraged to send any issues or suggestions for change to Betty MacDonald, Executive Director

FCM Issues--November-December 2015

Nova Scotia Board members (Councillor Claire Detheridge, Councillor Bill Karsten, Mayor Dave Corkum and Councillor Tom Taggart) attended the November FCM Board meeting in Ottawa. The support members gave FCM during the federal election campaign was acknowledged as the FCM successfully earned commitments from all parties to support municipal priorities. FCM has prepared a proposed action plan for the new government's first 100 days of government. The plan is available on the FCM website: www.fcm.ca. Also on the website are two new documents, one on climate change and resiliency, and one on encouraging women to become engaged in local government.

FCM is working hard on the Syrian refugee crisis, and Mayor Mike Savage is co-chairing their Task Force on refugee settlement.

The 2016 FCM Annual Conference in Winnipeg will offer specific sessions of interest to rural communities.

Provincial Issues--November-December 2015

Playbook for a Better 2025 - The oneNS Coalition recommended 60 measurable actions in response to the oneNS Report. The plan outlines seven action areas that hold the greatest promise for change, plus a comprehensive accountability framework. Progress will be measured and reported by an independent organization or all-party committee of the legislature, with regular updates online.

The action areas are:

• Early Years: Starting Strong
• Our Future is Young
• Universities and NSCC as Innovation Hubs
• Immigration and Welcoming Communities
• Our ICT Momentum
• Going Global
• Nova Scotia's Ocean Advantage
• Ensuring Accountability and Sustaining Momentum.

The plan calls for unprecedented leadership from, and collaboration among industry, business, institutions, communities, First Nations, labour, post-secondary schools, and all levels of government in order to effectively tackle the problems the province faces and realize sustainable change.

The oneNS Report projected extended economic and demographic decline. The Collaborative Action Plan: A Playbook for Nova Scotians, outlines the action Nova Scotians can take to achieve the Ivany goals over the next 10 years.

The full plan is available at www.wechoosenow.ca


Government Releases Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) Final Report - Since August, the department has issued 49 decisions on new applications and project extensions. In total, the minister approved eight requests for extension and one new application. A further 37 applications and three extension requests were not approved, representing more than 100 megawatts of electricity.
The approved application is for a 50 kilowatt small wind project led by the Municipality of the District of Digby.

A full list of projects can be found at http://energy.novascotia.ca/renewables/programs-and-projects/comfit.

Since the launch of COMFIT, more than 121 project approvals have been issued, representing about 220 megawatts of capacity. By the end of this year, Nova Scotia will have more than 125 megawatts of community-generated renewable energy as part of its electricity supply.

COMFIT was established in 2010 with a goal of bringing 100 megawatts of renewable electricity to the grid. The program was designed to encourage the development of local renewable energy projects by municipalities, First Nations, co-operatives, not-for-profit groups and others.

To read the full review report, visit http://energy.novascotia.ca/sites/default/files/COMFIT%20Review.pdf.

A New Electricity Plan for Nova Scotia - Nova Scotia's electricity future will have more predictable power rates and a utility that is more accountable to ratepayers, more competition and innovation.

Energy Minister Michel Samson released Our Electricity Future: Nova Scotia's Electricity Plan, the province's 25-year electricity plan on Nov. 9. The plan reflects findings from the year-long Electricity System Review, which heard from more than 1,300 Nova Scotians and technical experts.

For the first time, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will set clear performance and reliability standards for Nova Scotia Power with regular reporting requirements.

Under the plan, Nova Scotia Power could face penalties of up to $1 million annually if it does not meet performance standards. Penalties will not impact rates, but will be paid for by shareholders.

Power bills have two parts. The general rate charged by Nova Scotia Power and a base fuel cost. Through legislation, government will bring in a new three-year rate stability period, from 2017-19, during which power rates will be known by Nova Scotians upfront. To achieve this, Nova Scotia Power will have until April 30 to request a change to the general rate for non-fuel costs during this period.

The company must also file a plan to lock in prices to reduce volatility in the cost of fuel over the three years.

The plan also commits $1.5 million over the next three years to support pilot projects to research technologies related to electricity use and management, storage, solar electricity, and tidal energy.

This year, Nova Scotia reached its target of generating 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, like wind, hydro and biomass. With more regional and local renewable projects planned, including the Maritime Link, the province is expected to easily reach the 2020 target of 40 per cent.

The plan includes the government's decision to allow renewable generators to sell directly to customers.

Government will bring forward amendments to the Public Utilities Act and Electricity Act this fall to support the electricity plan.

Our Electricity Future: Nova Scotia's Electricity Plan is available at www.novascotia.ca/electricityfuture

 

Other Issues - November-December 2015

Refugee Support

The UNSM is encouraging municipalities and the general public to get involved with refugee settlement in their local communities.

What can Nova Scotians do?

Nova Scotians who want to offer support for refugees who will soon settle in the province can call 211. Offers of clothing, food and lodging will be catalogued by the service. Callers will be asked for details of the support they can provide and to leave contact information for follow-up. People who want to volunteer can also contact 211 and leave their information. Call 211 or email with your details. For more information visit: http://www.ns.211.ca/microsites/nova_scotia/emergency.

 

The Municipal Role

A number of municipalities across the country are taking action on immigrant settlement including the following:

Halifax:

  • The Halifax Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) will hold regular meetings with Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH's), settlement agencies and service providers to facilitate coordination as well as consistent information exchange and sharing. The municipality will provide information about municipal services to those involved in refugee settlement or directly to refugees. This information can be provided through 311, which is already available in 150 languages.
  • Through Human Resources and the Diversity and Inclusion Office provide sensitivity training for public-facing municipal staff. Such training will be developed to address stigma and stereotypes which constitute significant barriers to greater newcomer participation and to a better integration.
  • To promote a more diverse workforce, the Human Resources (HR) Department can provide or support workshops and/or information sessions to help refugees familiarize themselves with the municipality’s employment culture and get support for resume and cover letter writing. Staff would work in collaboration with ISANS and the Diversity and Inclusion Office on delivery.
  • Halifax Regional Police (HRP), in coordination with their diversity officer and alongside the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, conduct outreach sessions for refugees with the objective of overcoming the fear of police that some refugees may carry based on their personal experience. HRP will also offer and conduct other outreach efforts, such as informational sessions showcasing HRP’s commitment to finding solutions to stigma and difficulties that refugees experience as they settle in their new home. These sessions will be related to HRP’s involvement with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, which examines the connection between gangs, child soldiers, policing, police training and the displacement of peoples.
  • Halifax Transit to provide temporary transit passes to refugees for first year of settlement.
  • Halifax Recreation to offer relief on recreation fees for first year of settlement for their 28 HRM owned and operated facilities and, where possible, work with Multi-District and Community facilities with whom we have service agreements to do the same.
  • Continue to work in partnership with Halifax Public Libraries as part of their Immigrant/Newcomer Services plan.
  • Work with settlement agencies and others to facilitate access to above noted transit, recreation and library services, potentially through use of an ID card or municipal services card.
  • Halifax LIP to play a coordinating role on the possible implementation of temporary emergency shelters with settlement agencies and service providers (these include, ISANS, Halifax Refugee Clinic, YMCA, YWCA, Shelter Nova Scotia).
  • Include a portal for services to refugees in the Newcomers section of HRM’s website. This portal will highlight existing information in the Newcomers Guide already as it applies to refugee services.
  • Through the Halifax LIP, support continuous coordination of efforts between the municipality and the Provincial Government for matters related to affordable housing, accessible healthcare and inclusive education.
  • Work with provincial government on provincially identified working groups to coordinate activities in various areas including: recreation, community preparedness and others.

Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview:

Local governments in the Greater Moncton Area hosted a joint public information session on refugee sponsorship and resettlement. The municipal role in the settlement of Syrian refugees will include:

  • Providing housing, shelter assistance and leveraging partnerships, grants and land use programs for future housing options
  • Funding and coordinating support for resettlement agencies
  • Identifying Syrian communities within their cities to ensure more successful settlement
  • Disseminating information on available resources including employment, housing, transit and recreation
  • Subsidizing public transit and recreation programs for new refugees
  • Leading public education campaigns to ensure welcoming communities and accurate information on government initiatives

Vancouver:

  • On September 8, 2015 Mayor Robertson convened a community forum on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and 400 people attended.
  • On September 16, City Council unanimously passed a motion calling for increased support for refugees.
  • City staff are actively engaged with federal and provincial partners, as well as local service agencies, on planning for the imminent arrival of Syrian refugees to Vancouver. A Syrian Refugees Arrival Strategic Planning Group comprised of government (federal, provincial) and local partners has been struck to prepare for refugee arrival to Vancouver.
  • The City has a well-established Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration, a Local Immigration Partnership Table (Vancouver Immigration Partnership) with 170+ members, a Healthy City Leadership Table comprised of 30 local leaders, and many other networks, many of whom are ready to offer support.
  • The City will play an active role in a regional response with other municipal, senior government and community partners and will be participating in a regional planning session on November 16.

Toronto:

  • Approved $600,000 for settlement and support services as part of a multifaceted strategy.
  • Established an Inter-Divisional Team that will coordinate municipal settlement and support services. The team includes: Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (including Toronto Community Housing); Toronto Employment & Social Services; Toronto Public Health; Children's Services; Strategic Communications; Equity, Diversity & Human Rights and Parks, Forestry & Recreation. It is led by the Toronto Newcomer Office. The team is creating a list of housing availability, a volunteer data base that includes translators and a jobs bank among other initiatives.
  • Established an Inter-Agency Task Force which includes: Canadian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), UNHCR, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network and Lifeline Syria. The Toronto Newcomer Office serves as the secretariat for the Task Force.
  • There is interest from the corporate sector to fundraise for housing and other costs.

Saskatoon:

  • Working with the refugee-serving organizations to provide learning opportunities on both the processes of refugees coming to Canada, as well as the integration and settlement needs of refugees.
  • Hosting community meetings to help create broader community awareness and understanding of the current refugee situation and how individuals, organizations, and groups can best help.
  • Expanding the Leisure Access and Discounted Bus Pass Programs to include privately sponsored refugees.
  • Encouraging residents to consider privately sponsoring a refugee/refugee family or donating to support the needs of refugees arriving in Saskatoon

 

CN's AskRail App

More than 1400 first responders along CN’s rail network use the AskRail app on their mobile devices to lookup real time information about the contents of railcars and trains in their communities. Your municipality's first responders can sign up for the AskRail app, the emergency preparedness tool available in French and English.

Benefits of AskRail include:

  • access real-time data about contents of railcars
  • search to see whether a train is carrying dangerous goods
  • view railroad emergency contact information.

To sign up for AskRail, e-mail CN at .

For further information, visit http://www.cn.ca/askrail.