e-News Bulletin - May 2012

President's Message

president

Deputy Warden Jimmy MacAlpine

I ask that your mark your calendars for the launch of Municipal Awareness Week which will take place September 24-30, 2012. The purpose of this initiative is to:

  • promote the importance of municipal government in peoples' daily lives including school-aged children;
  • encourage citizens to participate in municipal government−including attending council meetings, public hearings or joining an advisory committee−in a way that is inclusive to all Nova Scotians; and
  • increase voter turnout rates during the October 20, 2012 Municipal Elections.

This project is a three-way partnership between the UNSM, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and the Association of Municipal Administrators.

We want to encourage all municipalities to get involved by choosing a day (or days) during this week to launch a public event. Two possible examples include inviting the public to tour municipal facilities and conducting presentations at local schools.

A Municipal Awareness Week brochure providing numerous suggestions on various activities you could undertake has been emailed to all elected officials and CAO's. A hard copy of the brochure will also be sent to all 55 municipalities for further distribution. A French version of the brochure will be available within the next two weeks and posted to the UNSM website.

While organizing local events will be the ultimate responsibility of each municipality, UNSM staff is available to assist with such tasks as  drafting and sending out media releases.

I encourage you to bring forward this topic at your next council meeting for discussion. Getting more people engaged in various aspects of municipal government leads to better informed council decision making.

For further information on this initiative, contact UNSM Policy Analyst Lyle Goldberg by phone (423-8673) or via email ().

For a copy of the Municipal Awareness Week brochure, click here (674 kB).

On May 15 I responded to the draft LED Roadway Lighting Regulations on behalf of UNSM expressing concern with the lack of analysis identifying costs and benefits to municipalities. For a copy of the letter, click here.

On May 18, I wrote to the Chair of the Provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission emphasizing the importance of recognizing the province's linguistic and cultural diversity when devising provincial electoral boundaries−particularly our Acadian and African Nova Scotian communities. For a copy of this letter, click here.

I want to congratulate the UNSM Spring Workshop Planning Committee and the Town of Truro for organizing an excellent session at the Truro Holiday Inn. I received positive feedback from the many delegates attending both in terms of the sessions and the social activities.

As you are aware, ACOA and ECBC announced that it will no longer be funding our RDA's, effective 2013. This represents approximately $160,000 revenue loss per agency. The Province has written the UNSM indicating it will not make up the difference. As a result, municipalities will have to work with the Province to develop an alternative economic development model. In response, I have written ACOA Minister Bernard Valcourt expressing disappointment with this decision, particularly since there was no consultation with municipalities. For a copy of the letter click here.

As indicated in my last report, the UNSM for the first time undertook Advocacy Days on May 2-3. The purpose of this initiative was for the UNSM Board of Directors to meet with as many MLA's as possible in order to:

  • build relationships between provincial and municipal elected officials;
  • look at how the Province and municipalities can work together to better serve the interests of all Nova Scotians and to minimize their collective tax burden; and
  • build support towards provincial-municipal partnerships on an infrastructure plan and other issues critical to communities.

I would deem our first venture with this initiative a huge success. Overall, UNSM Board members met with 28 MLA's including the Premier, six ministers and the leaders of both opposition parties.

Our key message to MLA's on behalf of municipalities was that:

  • we serve the same taxpayer;
  • we are a true order of government that should not be treated like a special interest group; and
  • we want to cooperate with the Province on infrastructure and other programs that impact our communities.

 

Due to the success of this first-time initiative, the UNSM Board of Directors, at its May 9th meeting, passed a motion declaring that Advocacy Days will take place annually during a time when the provincial legislature is in session.

As a follow-up to Advocacy Days, I wrote a thank you letter to all MLA's that participated as well as a separate letter to those MLA's that did not. I anticipate word will spread on the success of the initiative leading to greater participation among MLA's in future years.

Until next month!