e-News Bulletin - June 2012

President's Message

president

Deputy Warden Jimmy MacAlpine

I am pleased to announce that the Towns Task Force has completed its draft report which was e-mailed to all members. The report, "A Path to Municipal Viability", was developed from the PowerPoint presentations given at the regional meetings as well as the Spring Workshop. It incorporated feedback received during these sessions. We ask that you review this important document and provide comments to the UNSM office by July 31, 2012. Please respond as a Council rather than as individual councillors. Once feedback is received, the Task Force will amend, as appropriate, and submit it to the UNSM Board.  The final report will be presented at the Fall Conference in September. A special thank you to the Task Force members for a job well done. For a copy of the draft report, click here (702 kB).

The Fiscal Review Steering Committee met for the first time on June 14. The Committee consists of the UNSM Executive (President, Vice President, Past President and three Caucus Chairs) along with seven provincial deputy ministers representing Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Education, Community Services, Economic and Rural Development and Toursim, Finance, Environment, and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The Committee authorized the work of the Working Group who will be meeting over the summer to review programs and begin working on the deliverables identified in the terms of reference.

From June 1-3 I attended the FCM Annual Conference in Saskatoon. During these meetings, a great deal of time was allocated to discussing the Federal long-term infrastructure plan. As part of this discussion, the Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Denis Lebel, announced eleven roundtable meetings to be held across the country to discuss the new infrastructure program. I was invited to the roundtable held in St. John's Newfoundland on June 28. Here I was given an opportunity to provide important input into what a new federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure program would look like. My comments largely centred around feedback received from an infrastructure survey conducted with the UNSM membership. Three key issues raised in the survey including the following:

  • The current one-third cost-sharing model will no longer work for a number of municipalities given growing infrastructure needs.
  • Increased Federal and Provincial regulations are creating exorbitant costs for municipalities. A new program should require Federal and Provincial governments to pay a greater share for projects driven by their own regulations.
  • Project cost overruns should not be borne solely by municipalities which is currently the case. If the other levels of government are not prepared to contribute financially to the overruns, municipalities should be allowed to downsize a project if tenders bring the cost to a level it cannot afford. Downsizing should not reduce the federal/provincial portion.

I was pleased that a resolution on owner-operator fleet separation policies introduced by the District of Guysborough was passed at the FCM Annual General Meeting. This resolution was in response to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recent discussion paper on the Future of Canada’s Commercial Fisheries. The discussion paper makes no reference to owner-operator and fleet separation policies. These policies for more than thirty years have been the cornerstone of Nova Scotia’s fishery by protecting the independence of our inshore fleets. The elimination of these policies would permit company ownership of licenses at the expense of local fishermen. This could have a serious negative impact on the fishery in Nova Scotia as well as across Atlantic Canada. The resolution was emailed to each municipal unit asking to write to your Member(s) of Parliament requesting that the Federal Government not terminate the Owner-Operator Fleet Separation Policies currently in place. It should be noted that the Province is also on record in support of maintaining owner-operator fleet separation policies. For a copy of the resolution, click here.

The Government of Canada has created a commemorative medal to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country. At the same time, it serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. During the year of celebrations, 60 000 deserving Canadians will be recognized.

The Federal Government is making 4,000 medals available to municipalities to honour their citizens. UNSM is able to nominate six municipal elected officials, current or past.

To be eligible for this honour, a person must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, but need not necessarily reside in Canada;
  • Have made a significant contribution to a particular province, territory, region or community within Canada, or an achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada; and
  • Be alive on February 6th, 2012, the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne. The medal can be awarded posthumously, as long as the recipient was alive on that date.

The UNSM Board has established a Jubilee Medal Nominating Committee to review applications and make final recommendations for up to six medals. If your municipality would like to submit a name (or names) for consideration to the UNSM nominating committee, please send in a written submission outlining why you feel the candidate is deserving of the medal based on their contribution to their municipality/community. Preference will be given to current or former municipal elected officials. The application can be sent to Lyle Goldberg, Policy Analyst via email (), fax (902-425-5592) or regular mail: Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Suite 1106, 1809 Barrington St., Halifax, NS B3J 3K8. Applications must be received by Friday, July 27, 2012. Medals will be awarded prior to the end of 2012. 

Please mark your calendars for the inaugural Ken Simpson Municipal Lecture Series to take place on Thursday, November 29, 7:00pm-9:00pm at Dalhousie University. The topic is "Solutions for Nova Scotia's Population Trends". The presenter will be Dr. Linda Duxbury, Professor at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. This is a free event open to the public. More information to follow.

The Municipal Campaign Schools for Women have concluded for 2012. Four schools in total were held in Port Hawkesbury, Berwick, Yarmouth and Dartmouth. A fifth school was to take place in Amherst but was cancelled due to low registration numbers. Overall, the four schools were well attended with a total of 113 participants. We received positive feedback from many participants as indicated upon review of the evaluations. Majority of the participants rated the campaign school as either excellent or very good. A number of the participants indicated their intention to run in the October municipal elections. A special thank you to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations as well as the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women for helping fund the campaign schools.

I want to remind everyone of Municipal Awareness Week taking place between September 24-30. I encourage you to discuss this event with your council to come up with activities that will promote the importance of municipal government in your respective communities. For a copy of the Municipal Awareness Week brochure, click here (674 kB) for the English Version and click here (466 kB) for the French Version.

On June 25 I attended an Open Data Forum hosted by the PVSC which focussed on how all orders of government can make information more accessible to the public. This session demonstrated how increasing information access will create a more transparent relationship with the public while reducing valuable staff time required to retrieve information.

On the evening of June 25 I attended a Lunenburg-Queens regional meeting hosted by municipalities and not the UNSM. A good part of this meeting centred around Resolute Forest Products' decision to close the Bowater Mersey mill. This closure will have huge socio-economic impacts on the South Shore region and surrounding communities. In response to the closure, the Province has formed a Bowater Response Team to help support local workers, families and small businesses owners. The UNSM will participate in a weekly teleconference to receive updates on the work of the Response Team.

On June 21 I wrote the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, Marilyn More, regarding potential financial impacts to municipalities as a result of recommendations made by the Provincial Auditor General regarding fire inspection services. Acting Fire Marshal Harold Pothier will be presenting on this issue at the UNSM Fall Conference in September. For a copy of the letter, click here.

On June 20 I attended the Municipal Finance Corporation Annual General Meeting.

On June 13 I wrote the new Minister for Communities, Culture & Heritage, the Honourable Leonard Preyra, recommending amendments to the Heritage Property Act. These changes were the result of an HRM resolution passed at the 2011 UNSM Annual Conference. For a copy of the letter, click here.

On June 15 I wrote the Environment Minister in response to the one-year notice letter we received earlier this year. It references a requirement for municipalities to prepare a drinking water system assessment report by April 1, here. For a copy of the letter, click here.

The next e-news bulletin will be a combined July-August edition.

Have a great summer!