UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from August 19 meeting
1. Approval of 2015 Audited Financial Statements—The Board approved by motion the 2015 Audited Financial Statements. (They will be printed in the 2016 Conference Program.)
2. 2017 Spring Workshop Location—The Board agreed to hold the 2017 UNSM Spring Workshop at St. F.X. University on May 10th - 12th.
3. Outcomes from Strategic Planning Session—The Board held a strategic planning session on June 10. While the UNSM will remain the collective voice for municipalities, the Board would like to refocus the organization as:
- a focal point and expert for information about municipal issues, opportunities, matters
- a resource for municipalities on municipal, provincial and federal matters
- a facilitator for sharing information, including networking
- a leader and promoter of best practices and problem solving
- the starting point for reaching out to municipalities.
To achieve these goals, the following initiatives are recommended:
- consider a name change for the organization, downplaying the word "Union"
- realign staff responsibilities to better reflect the new organizational direction
- provide evidence based research on municipal priorities, issues, opportunities
- listen to and reflect member needs and wants
- consult and meet with members to build common understanding
- develop municipal positions and resolutions
- share best practices, success stories, tools
- develop and implement proactive advocacy strategies with other levels of government and the public, to understand their needs as well as to communicate municipal needs
- host workshops and conferences and meetings, gathering municipal elected and staff officials
- partner with AMA, province, federal government , other community and stakeholder organizations
4. Financial Support Proposal from AMANS--Over the last three years the Association of Municipal Administrators, Nova Scotia (AMANS) has provided policy support to the UNSM on a number of key projects including MGA Review, CAP Review, Partnership Agreement, Towns Task Force, and Fiscal Review. To recognize their important policy role relationship to the UNSM, and to continue to provide this level of service, AMANS is looking for a mechanism to provide more financial stability to the organization. The UNSM Board supported the direction AMANS proposed with further discussions to take place on the appropriate funding mechanism.
5. Partnership Agreement - Next Steps--As a result of a meeting between the Premier, UNSM President Mayor Cecil Clarke and Rural Caucus Chair Mayor Don Downe, UNSM presented a request to the province for new funding as part of the Partnership Agreement. This request was presented at the Roundtable of Ministers on July 13, 2016. Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill indicated his interest to pursue a meaningful partnership. He specifically referenced how better to undertake structural change and economic development (Minister Churchill has been asked to review the RENS).
It was agreed the next steps would be as follows:
- UNSM Executive Director to meet with Municipal Affairs Deputy Minister to discuss potential areas for agreement
- UNSM President Mayor Cecil Clarke and Rural Caucus Chair Don Downe to meet with Premier again to discuss areas of agreement.
6. Revised Resolutions Process--Discussions among the membership have resulted in revising the resolutions process to make it more credible, focussed and effective in order to have more success with the Province. The revised process was approved by the Board for discussion with members.
UNSM staff will forward the draft resolutions process document to all municipalities by early September for comment. The final document will be presented at the 2016 Fall Conference.
7. Doctor Shortage Resolution--At the June 23 South Western Shore regional meeting, a resolution was circulated regarding doctor shortages in underserviced areas of the province. The resolution requested that UNSM request that the Province start paying a premium sufficient to attract doctors to work in under-serviced areas of Nova Scotia. Those attending the meeting asked that this issue be brought to the UNSM Board for further discussion.
The Board acknowledged that access to a family physician in both urban and rural areas is becoming increasingly challenging. This complex issue is provincial in scope and not a direct municipal responsibility, and we do not have the expertise to identify the best solution. The proposed resolution process suggests a way to bring this to the attention of the Province.
That being said the Board indicated it would invite the CEO of the NS Health Authority to a future Board meeting to discuss their physician recruitment strategy. They also agreed to request a panel discussion on the Province's Collaborative Care Model at the 2017 UNSM Spring Workshop.
8. Forestry Taxation Working Group--UNSM held a Forestry Workshop on April 14, 2016, at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. One of the outcomes from the workshop was that UNSM form a Forestry Taxation Working Group to develop a more consistent and equitable forest taxation policy. Nova Scotia has the lowest forest taxation rates in Canada. Currently the tax rate for forest resource property is 25 cents per acre and 40 cents per acre for commercial forest property. These rates have been in place since 1978. The goal would be to create a tax policy that rewards woodlot owners that have a sustainable management plan in place and who are actively following the plan.
UNSM staff has developed a draft terms of reference for the committee. However, it is critical that DNR be willing to participate in order to move this issue forward. Prior to forming a working group, the Board agreed that the UNSM Executive Director, along with Warden Keith Hunter and Mayor Don Downe, would meet with DNR Deputy Minister Frank Dunn to determine if the Department has an interest in participating in this project.
9. Toll Highways--The Province recently released the results of a feasibility study to conduct a province-wide examination of twinning and tolling at eight specific sections of four major highways. The Province will be holding a number of public meetings on the various proposals. The Province hopes to have a decision by this time next year as to whether tolling makes sense and what roads should be twinned. UNSM President Mayor Cecil Clarke will meet with Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan to discuss the specific municipal role within this public engagement process.