E-News Bulletin--March-April 2017-In This Issue

In this issue:

  • UNSM Board Report 
  • Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
  • UNSM Announcements: UNSM Spring Workshop; Update on Asset Management Planning in Nova Scotia
  • UNSM’s Gas Tax Fund Project Spotlights
  • Provincial Issues: SHIFT, the Province's Action Plan for an Aging Population; Canada Internal Trade Agreement; 
  • Federal Issues: Health Canada Introduced Propposed Legislation to Legalize Cannabis; Affordable Rental Housing; 
  • FCM: FCM Board Positions and Nomination Deadlines; FCM is Offering a Series of Climate Change and Sustainability Funding Webinars--April 25-27; Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program--Apply Today for New Climate Change Grants
  • Articles:  Cannabis Legalization - Weeding Out the Regulations - Kevin Latimer, Q.C. and Brittany Larsen, Articled Clerk, Cox & Palmer
  • Other Announcements

President's Activities

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

Update on UNSM Board of Directors
UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from January meeting
Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
Provincial Issues
Federal Issues
Other Announcements

UNSM Board Report--April 7, 2017


  1. Property Valuation Services Corporation Proposed New Governance Framework - PVSC presented to the Board, indicating it has been ten years since it successfully transitioned outside of government to become an independent not-for-profit corporation. Since then PVSC has operated with governance directives that supported the transition. Now, to be more relevant to the current organization, to reflect best practices in governance, and to support its 2017-2020 strategic, PVSC asked the Board to endorse its corporate governance review. The Board agreed and offered to work with PVSC to engage our members in the appropriate discussions, which will ultimately enable PVSC to serve municipalities even better.
  2. 12-Month Notice Letter - On March 23, the UNSM received a 12-month notice letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The letter referenced the following items which could financially impact municipalities over the next year: biological casework analysis agreement, cannabis legalization, cap and trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, drinking water requirements, uniform assessment, and recommendations from the Joint Municipal Accountability and Transparency Committee. The letter did not contain any specifics as to how these issues will impact municipalities. As a result, municipalities have no way of budgeting for these impacts. In response, the UNSM will write the Municipal Affairs Minister indicating the letter does not fulfill the intent of the legislation which would provide municipalities with actual dollar amounts. Moreover, the UNSM will question why the cap and trade program is referenced in the letter.
  3. Joint Municipal Accountability and Transparency (JMAT) Report - The recommendations from the JMAT Report are now finalized and will be discussed with the membership at the upcoming UNSM Spring Workshop. During these discussions the UNSM Board will seek support from the membership for the proposed recommendations.
  4. Reporting of UNSM Expenses--The Board agreed that staff will post expenses of UNSM board members and the Executive Director beginning April 2017. Expenses from the UNSM Immediate Past President will be posted going back one year. The expenses will be posted on the "About Us" menu on the UNSM website.
  5. Adding Natural Person Powers and Peace Order and Good Government Provisions to Halifax Charter - The Board agreed to write to the Municipal Affairs Minister in support of Halifax's request to obtain natural person powers and peace, order and good government provisions under their Charter. UNSM will ask the province to consult with all municipalities to determine interest in having similar powers under the Municipal Government Act.
  6. FCM International Program Between Cape Breton REN and Vietnam - UNSM was asked to participate in a four-year FCM International Project to promote economic development among municipalities in Vietnam. The lead agency in Nova Scotia will be the Cape Breton Regional Enterprise Network. UNSM would assist Vietnam municipalities in further developing their municipal association. The project will include two missions to Vietnam each year and hosting Vietnam officials in Nova Scotia twice during the term of the project. The Board directed staff pursue the partnership and determine the roles and responsibilities for UNSM and any other implications of sponsoring the project. Staff will bring the proposed partnership agreement back to the Board for approval.
  7. Advocacy Strategy - The Board agreed to the following advocacy strategy leading up to the provincial election: • Development of key messages by April 12; • Questionnaire to party leaders by April 12; • Invitation to meet with party caucuses; • Media release linked to party questionnaire; • Host MLA Breakfast on April 26; • Develop printed and online materials for UNSM members to use in discussion with provincial candidates; • Utilize Spring Workshop to raise the profile of municipal interests.
  8. Fire Services Review - The Fire Services Review Report is near completion and has identified a number of issues including funding, fire service standards and organizational/governance structure. The Board directed staff to work with the Province, AMA and Fire Services Association towards the establishment of a joint committee to address the report's recommendations, including consultations with municipalities and fire services.
  9. Policing Committee Appointments - The Board appointed the following UNSM members to the following committees:• Joint Police Services and Community Safety Advisory Committee - Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz, County of Kings and Mayor Bill MacDonald, Town of Annapolis Royal; • Nova Scotia Local Government RCMP Contract Management Committee - Councillor Michael Gregory, County of Colchester; The Board did not receive any applicants from towns with a municipal police agreement with the RCMP - Antigonish, Pictou, Shelburne, Windsor and Yarmouth. There were also no applications from elected officials from Halifax.  The Board instructed staff to send out a specific notice to those town elected officials with a municipal police agreement with the RCMP. Halifax UNSM Board members will speak with their fellow councillors to determine who would be interested in representing Halifax on these committees.
  10. Board Evaluation - Staff presented a proposed board evaluation for the board to complete annually. The Board will complete the evaluation at its next meeting in May. Results of the evaluation will be discussed at a following meeting including recommendations for improvement.


UNSM Announcements--March-April 2017

UNSM Spring Workshop

The UNSM Spring Workshop is taking place at St.F.X. University from May 10-12. Presentation topics include Physician Recruitment, Transforming Services for People with Disabilities, An Overview of Nova Scotia's Affordable Housing Landscape including Municipal Partnerships, Municipal Trail Blazers in the areas of waste reduction and flood mitigation, and Municipal Responsibilities and Opportunities with the Federal Gas Tax Fund and Asset Management. Central Nova MP Sean Fraser will be giving remarks on behalf of the Federal Government. To receive the early bird rate please register by May 2.To register, click here.



The purpose of this asset management update is twofold:

  1. to provide an update on progress made with Nova Scotia’s asset management program and an overview of the requirements under the federal Gas Tax Fund (please see below); and
  2. to inform you about an upcoming teleconference meeting – to be hosted by UNSM and Department of Municipal Affairs - to provide details on the Province’s asset management program and discuss any initial project ideas you may be considering for FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program funding to ensure they align with Nova Scotia’s initiative (details to follow shortly).

An Update on Asset Management Planning in Nova Scotia
The renewed 2014-24 Gas Tax Fund (GTF) places a greater emphasis on long-term capital planning and asset management. As a result, Nova Scotia is developing a province-wide asset management system for municipal infrastructure. It is expected to include, at a minimum, an inventory of assets and a condition of infrastructure. Municipalities have agreed to participate in this initiative and are working with the Province towards this goal. Nova Scotia will provide Infrastructure Canada with a progress update along with the 2018 Outcomes Report as per the GTF Agreement. The Agreement defines an asset management plan as a document that “supports integrated life-cycle approaches to effective stewardship of infrastructure assets in order to maximize benefits and manage risks”.

How is the Province of Nova Scotia Supporting Municipalities in Moving Froward with Asset Management?
Currently, the Province (through the Department of Municipal Affairs) is consulting with municipalities and relevant stakeholder groups to develop a province-wide asset management tracking and reporting system to support municipalities in making progress with their plans. Recognizing that municipalities are diverse and have varying levels of capacity to undertake asset management planning, the Province is committed to working collaboratively with them to develop a system that:

  1. allows municipalities to collect the relevant asset information required to make informed infrastructure decisions, while ensuring they meet the minimum asset management requirement in their Municipal Funding Agreements; and
  2. is scalable and provides flexibility, which would allow a municipality to customize their level of asset reporting if they wanted to collect more detailed information for internal purposes.

Although the Province aims to build flexibility into the program, it also intends to develop a standardized approach for gathering and reporting asset information. By developing standardized units of measure across the various asset classes and for condition assessments, the asset management program will help identify infrastructure trends and requirements across municipalities.

In terms of a Nova Scotia-specific asset management program, the Province also recognizes the importance of creating efficiencies in the reporting requirements and focusing on value-added reporting for municipalities. Essentially, the Province is aiming to develop an asset management system that will support municipalities in making informed, evidence-based decisions to ensure the sustainability of their services, and help them manage risks and meet fiduciary responsibilities.

What is Nova Scotia's Infrastructure Asset Management Working Group?
In an effort to ensure Nova Scotia’s asset management program is relevant and effective for municipalities, the Province established the Infrastructure Asset Management Working Group in the fall of 2015. The composition of the Working Group is diverse and includes representatives nominated from UNSM, the Association of Municipal Administrators, the Municipal Public Works Association of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Infrastructure Management (AIM) Network and the Department of Municipal Affairs. Participants include elected officials, municipal administrative and technical staff, and association and provincial representatives. Its purpose is to:

  • provide leadership, direction and support for the development and implementation of a province-wide local government asset management strategy;
  • share information and promote educational/training opportunities;
  • consider and identify funding for asset management tools, resources and projects; and
  • interact with other agencies, governments and associations to exchange information.

A UNSM staff member serves as the coordinator for the Working Group and provides support to organize meetings, develop agendas and record minutes. In addition to her role on the Working Group, she also provides support for the Province’s asset management initiatives by developing resources and training opportunities for municipalities.

Recent Progress & Next Steps with Asset Management in Nova Scotia
The Province has plans to initiate a pilot project late in the spring of 2017 with 2- 3 municipalities to test data collection templates for linear asset (including water pipes, sewer lines, roads and sidewalks/trails). Through lessons learned and best practices established from working with the pilot municipalities, the Province will develop a standardized methodology for collecting data and assessing the condition of assets. It is anticipated that this work will include standardized templates to help ensure consistency in municipal infrastructure reporting in Nova Scotia. This information will be made available to assist all municipalities with their asset management practices.

The Province is currently exploring options for acquiring an asset registry system, be it a spreadsheet or database system, which will allow municipalities to effectively and efficiently store asset information. Municipalities will use the asset registry system to house and maintain basic information on municipal assets, which will allow them to make informed, strategic decisions about their infrastructure. The Province will work with municipalities to assist in populating the asset registry, which will serve as critical step towards the development of asset management plans in Nova Scotia.

Through the Working Group’s UNSM and AMA representatives, municipalities will be kept updated as work progresses on developing Nova Scotia’s asset management program. For more information on the Province’s role in moving asset management forward in Nova Scotia or the Infrastructure Asset Management Working Group, please contact Ahmad Shahwan, Municipal Advisor, Department of Municipal Affairs at or (902) 424-5537.

The Upcoming Asset Management Teleconference Meeting
UNSM will issue a separate announcement shortly providing details on the teleconference meeting to discuss asset management planning in Nova Scotia.

Upcoming Workshops/ Events/Initiatives--March-April 2017


  • March 31, 2017 - Cape Breton-Strait Area Regional Meeting - 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre
  • April 25 – 27, 2017 – FCM’s Climate Change and Sustainability Funding Webinars
  • April 28, 2017 - South Shore-HRM Regional Meeting - 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Atlantica Oak Island Resort & Conference Centre, District of Chester
  • May 5, 2017 - CB-Strait Regional Meeting - 10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m., Shannon Studio, Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre
  • May 10-12, 2017 - UNSM Spring Workshop - Keating Centre, St. F.X. University, Antigonish, NS.  Click here for more information.
  • May 17-19, 2017 – Atlantic Mayors Congress– Summerside, PEI
  • May 26, 2017 - Cannabis Symposium - Four Points Sheraton, Halifax, NS. Click here for more information. 
  • June 1-4, 2017 - FCM Annual Conference and Trade Show - Ottawa ON. Click here for more information.
  • September 21, 2017 - Supporting Successful Meetings with Eli Mina (preparing minutes, agendas and resolutions; advising on rules of order) For more information and to register on-line visit: http://www.elimina.com/training/training-scheduled-halifax.html.
  • September 22, 2017 - "We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This" with Eli Mina (demystifying the rules of order, effective meetings and decision making). For more information and to register on-line visit: http://www.elimina.com/training/training-scheduled-halifax.html

Provincial Issues--March-April 2017

SHIFT, the Province’s Action Plan for an Aging Population was released March 30, 2017, and can be found at https://novascotia.ca/shift/. The Action Plan mentions municipalities specifically in a number of its actions, including:

  • the promotion of physical activity and regular exercise under the Municipal Physical Activity Leadership program;
  • a review of the Statement of Provincial Interest on Housing to determine if it adequately directs municipal planning and zoning to support a range of options that bridge the gap between independent living and long term care;
  • a new MOU with UNSM to support the development of age-friendly communities;
  • development of a recognition program for municipalities that have taken steps to become age-friendly;
  • alignment of age-friendly community planning with the municipal planning process; work with municipalities and other partners to increase access to culturally safe, convenient, and affordable facilities and recreational programs for older adults

UNSM staff is meeting with provincial staff to learn more.


Canada Internal Trade Agreement: the new internal trade agreement is intended to remove barriers to trade across provinces. Municipalities are included in the agreement, and will need to ensure their procurement practices comply. The agreement applies to any purchase of

  1. $100,000 or greater for goods or services, excluding construction; or
  2. $250,000 or greater for construction;

The text of the agreement and background information is available at: http://www.ait-aci.ca/agreement-internal-trade/cfta-announcement/