E-News Bulletin--September-October 2017-In This Issue

In this issue:

  • UNSM Board Report – October 5, 2017
  • Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
  • Provincial Issues
  • Federal Issues 
  • FCM  
  • Articles 
  • Obituaries


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--October 5, 2017



  1. Partnership Framework and Provincial Government--The Board heard a presentation from AMA and the Department of Municipal Affairs about possible areas of joint work. Further discussion will be held.   In the meantime, UNSM Executive will seek a meeting with the Premier and the Minister to discuss future assistance.  
  2. UNSM President and Vice-President Terms--The Board agreed to look at extending the terms of President and Vice-President from one to two-year terms and to have these positions elected at large, similar to most municipal associations across the country.   Reasons to move to the two-year term include the need for more time to build relationships with the province, to maintain focus on top priorities, and to increase influence at the FCM Board level.  Staff will report on the implications of this change, and the Board will consult with the membership. 
  3. President Compensation--The Board reviewed the time commitments required of the President and agreed to increase the President’s annual compensation from $6000 to $12,000, to be increased annually by CPI. The President’s compensation has remained the same since 2005. The increase reflects the significant number of days and hours per year required to fulfill the role – at a minimum the President is required to attend meetings on average one day a week. 
  4. FCM Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization Project--FCM has asked municipal associations to contribute financially to the development of a guide book which will benefit all municipalities.  UNSM Board agreed to contribute $2000 to this project.
  5. Resolutions Process – Letter from District of Barrington--The District of Barrington wrote to the President requesting all municipal councils vote on proposed resolutions, instead of individuals at the annual general meeting.   This would allow all councils to have a say, as some cannot send people to the AGM.  The Board saw merit in this idea, and would like to discuss this further with the membership.  However, given the timing, it is not possible to change the process at this point for this AGM.  
  6. UNSM Dues Formula--The Board agreed to maintain the existing formula for UNSM dues.  At the December Board meeting, the Board will be asked to approve the 2018 UNSM Budget, after which the invoice for dues will be sent to municipalities.  
  7. Request for Municipalities to Waive Permit Fees Associated with Provincial Accessibility Programs--The province has introduced two new programs to assist community groups and businesses improve accessibility.  The Accessibility Directorate requested municipalities waive municipal permits for those with approved projects under the programs. As this is an individual council decision limited to those who receive approval under these specific programs, the UNSM Board agreed to encourage municipalities to consider the waiving of fees. 
  8. Monthly Board Report to the Membership--The Board discussed opportunities to inform councils of the work being undertaken by the Board. It was agreed a Board report would be written and sent to each council, encouraging the inclusion of the report as an information item on a council agenda.  Should a council have questions or concerns, UNSM would offer to meet with them.
  9. Amendments to Resolutions Policy--At this time no further changes are being made to the Resolutions Policy, however UNSM will invite feedback on the process following the AGM, and is committed to improving the process.  
  10. Solid Waste Review and EPR--The Board agreed to invite the Chairs of the Solid Waste Committees to meet in December to discuss the solid waste review and EPR.
  11. Pugwash Conference on Climate Change--This conference was recently held, and Warden Timothy Habinski was in attendance as was Debbie Nielson.  The Board agreed to circulate the media release issued after the conference to UNSM members. 
  12. Areas for Further Exploration--Board members raised the issues of interest arbitration and the need for legislation to recognize ability to pay as a legitimate concern.  The need to reach out to First Nations and to understand the Truth and Reconciliation report was also identified.  Staff will explore.  
1. FCM/Viet Nam, Cape Breton Community Development Project
The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Cape Breton Partnership and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have agreed to establish a formal relationship to support the implementation of the Partnerships for Municipal Innovation. The Partnerships for Municipal Innovation in Local Economic Development Project (PMI-LED) seeks to increase sustainable economic growth at the local level by strengthening the capacity of municipal governments in Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. The Board approved an MOU between FCM, the Cape Breton Partnership and UNSM to undertake the above project. The first mission to Vietnam will take place during the end of June 2017.  Funding is provided through FCM.  
2. Board Evaluation Survey
The Board completed a board evaluation survey. Results will be compiled and assessed by Town of Windsor CAO Louis Coutinho. Results will be shared with the Board at their June meeting.
3. Provincial Election Strategy
The Board agreed to send out a media release highlighting UNSM's provincial election strategy including the three candidates presenting at the spring workshop. This was sent out during the UNSM Spring Workshop.
4. Regional Meeting Outcomes 
Proposed resolutions coming out of the regional meetings were shared with the board. These included:
1. REN Improvements - to strengthen and ensure success of RENS in order to improve economic development opportunities in all regions.
2. Better Utilization and Taxation of Agricultural Land
3. Mechanisms to encourage more regional planning
4. Rural High Speed Internet
5. Doctor Shortage and Recruitment
6. Public Transit - making it easier for municipalities to create an inter-municipal public transit system without having to go through the Utility and Review Board
7. Forestry - promoting sustainable management practices
8. Senior Safety Program - establishing guaranteed long-term provincial funding over five years
9. Affordable Housing
10. Tourism strategy for Northumberland Shore - link to Regional Enterprise Networks
11. Rural Roads 
12. Improved Consultation with Municipalities when Designating Protected Areas - both Land and Marine
13. Improved Provincial and Municipal Funding to Support Public Libraries
14. Improved Access to Building Inspectors
A series of follow-up regional meetings will be held to prepare the resolutions which will be submitted to the UNSM Executive for consideration.
5. Rebranding Exercise
It was suggested that the board start focussing on a rebranding exercise as part of its communications/engagement strategy. This would include modernizing the website and conducting a member profile survey.

Provincial Issues--September-October 2017

Provincial Budget Highlights

  • Mandatory education rate remains unchanged, but individual municipalities will contribute more if their assessments have increased.
  • $2.4 million more to support recruitment and retention of doctors, including adding 10 new seats in the Dalhousie Family Medicine Residency Program a funding 10 spaces for a new practice-ready assessment program for doctors who were trained internationally and who want to practice in Nova Scotia
  • Work with the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine to develop a new clerkship program for third-year medical students for communities in Cape Breton. This will allow the school to be ready to accept and place four medical students in Cape Breton in September 2018.
  • $1.8 million to increase ACCESS-Ability grants for community buildings and open a new grant program for small businesses to become more accessible
  • $14.5 million for rural high-speed Internet
  • $4 million to support innovation initiatives, including a new rebate program and more support for business start-ups
  • $2 million to revitalize the province’s key tourism sites and $500,000 to advance Nova Scotia’s tourism marketing in China
  • $600,000 to support additional settlement programming, employer liaison supports, and the new Atlantic Immigration Pilot, all designed to meet the needs of a growing immigration population in our communities and workplaces
  • $40 million for municipal clean water and waste-water projects
  • $38 million for affordable housing, including creating new affordable housing units and improving affordable housing options, in partnership with the federal government
  • $250,000 more for the Seniors Safety and Age-Friendly Community grant programs


Amendment to the Municipal Government Act and Halifax Charter

During the Fall sitting of the Legislature, the Province passed amendments to both acts requiring all municipalities and villages to: report on travel and hospitality expenses; have a code of conduct; and improve their auditing and finance committees.

Regulations are being prepared for certain sections of the Act and the Department of Muncipal Affairs has indicated there will be consultation with municipalities. In the meantime, you are encouraged to begin reporting online, if you are not already doing so.

The amendments are similar to the recommendations of the Joint Municipal Accountability and Transparency Committee, with a few additional requirements added.

Some of the key requirements are as follows:

  • Each council will have expense and hospitality policies that will be reviewed by each council following a municipal election.
  • The travel policy will identify persons with signing authority, rules for the use of corporate credit card if applicable. No alcohol purchases will be eligible for reimbursement by individuals. Expenses to be reported include travel related (including accommodation, incidentals, and any transportation costs. Professional development and training expenses are to identified as well.
  • The hospitality policy will identify rules around the purchase of alcohol, the approval process, the scope and applicability of the policy.
  • Expenses for mayors, wardens, councillors, CAO’s, village commissioners, and village clerks will be required to report, as well as any other position prescribed by the regulations. Reports are to be prepared quarterly, and be posted to the municipal website. An annual summary report will be required.
  • Audit committees must meet a minimum twice a year, and should include an independent member.
  • Each municipality and village will adopt a code of conduct which includes compliance with the expense and hospitality policy.

12 Month Notice: WCB Costs

The Minister of Municipal Affairs wrote to the UNSM President on October 27, 2017 informing municipalities the Province had passed An Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Workers’ Compensation Act. (letter is on the UNSM website). The amendment establishes a presumption respecting causation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for front-line or emergency-response workers. The amendment will have a positive impact on our emergency workers submitting claims for PTSD. It will likely result in an increase in approved claims, which will impact assessment rates and associated claim costs. The Workers Compensation Board will determine the method for allocating these costs. If the costs are applied only to those employers of front line emergency workers, it is estimated the impact for all Nova Scotia municipalities that have opted for WCB coverage for their police and paid firefighters is in the range of $23,000 - $47,000). Similarly, for those municipalities who have opted for WCB coverage for their volunteer firefighters, the estimated increase in costs is in the range $52,400 - $107,200). Note these are totals, to be shared by those municipalities who have opted for coverage from WCB.

Alternatively, given the nature of the public service provided by these workers, WCB could allocate the costs to all employers. This could result in an employer with a $1 million payroll would see an increase of $100 per year.

There are no estimates for those municipalities who have opted out of Workers Compensation for these workers.

The Minister’s letter also notes it is possible a savings could be realized, as the amendments will speed access to treatment, meaning workers could be back on the job earlier. This will be monitored over time.

Joint Municipal/Provincial Cannabis Committee

UNSM requested municipalities be represented at the provincial level in discussions around cannabis regulations. The Province has invited UNSM to participate in a joint committee with the departments of Justice and Municipal Affairs. This will provide an opportunity to push for compensation in the enforcement of the regulations and any other incremental costs to municipalities.

To assist in this work, UNSM has formed a joint committee with municipal police officers and administrators. Their work will be shared with municipalities.

Upcoming Workshops/ Events/Initiatives--September-October 2017

·         October 2, 2017 – Leadership through Asset Management—Workshop for Elected Officials & CAO’s, Best Western Bridgewater, Bridgewater, NS, 3:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 3, 2017 – Getting Started with Asset Management Planning—Workshop for Municipal Staff, Best Western Bridgewater, Bridgewater, NS, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 5, 2017 – Getting Started with Asset Management Planning—Workshop for Municipal Staff, Old Orchard Inn, Wolfville, NS, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 6, 2017 - Leadership through Asset Management—Workshop for Elected Officials & CAO’s, Old Orchard Inn, Wolfville, NS, 3:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 10, 2017 - Leadership through Asset Management—Workshop for Elected Officials & CAO’s, Best Western Glengarry, Truro, NS, 3:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 11, 2017 – Getting Started with Asset Management Planning—Workshop for Municipal Staff, Best Western Glengarry, Truro, NS, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 19, 2017 – Getting Started with Asset Management Planning—Workshop for Municipal Staff, Inverary Resort, Baddeck, NS, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

·         October 20, 2017 - Leadership through Asset Management—Workshop for Elected Officials & CAO’s, Inverary Resort, Baddeck, NS, 3:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  For more information, click here.

FCM--September-October 2017

Sustainable Communities Conference: February 6-8, in Ottawa. Early bird registration fees are available until December 11. Click here for the Website.


New Transport Canada Funding for Adaptation for Automated Vehicle

Under the Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative, $1.725 million over four years will be available for grants and contributions through Transport Canada’s Program to Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System. This provides funding for projects that help Canadian municipalities, provinces, territories and other stakeholders prepare for the introduction of connected and automated vehicles. You can submit proposals for funding until November 30, 2017.  Click here for the Website.

FCM’s Women Scholarships

The FCM women’s scholarships program provides financial support to young female students in Canada to pursue their education, as well as to acknowledge their contribution to increasing awareness of women’s issues as they relate to local government and communities. Whether they are contributing to their school´s leadership team or student council, or researching topics related to women in politics, young female students from coast to coast to coast are invited to apply before December 15.

GMF Annual Report Highlights Progress on Sustainability

FCM recently released the 2016–2017 annual report of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund (GMF).

In this year’s annual report, FCM demonstrate its commitment to helping communities through knowledge-sharing, funding and other initiatives. FCM shares stories of how GMF helps municipalities provide cleaner drinking water, improve waste management and use energy more efficiently, and more.

In the annual report, you can:

  • Learn about the significant and measurable environmental, economic and social benefits of our funded projects
  • Explore how municipalities are making their communities more sustainable through case studies and project examples
  • Learn how GMF continues to provide support throughout the application process, from applying for grants or loans combined with grants