E-News Bulletin--Summer 2016-In This Issue

In this issue:


  • UNSM Board of Director Outcomes from August 19 meeting
  • Upcoming Workshops/Events/Initiatives
  • Provincial Updates
  • Federal Updates
  • Other Announcements
  • Article from Cox & Palmer:  The “Wells Report” on Municipal Ethics Systems: Window Dressing or Institutional Fabric? Kevin Latimer, Q.C., Partner, Cox & Palmer
  • Article from Frank Cowan Company: Risk Management Considerations:  Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
  • Obituaries


President's Activities

For a list of the President's activities over the past month, 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 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.



Provincial Updates--Summer 2016

High-Speed Internet Coming to More Rural Communities

On June 20, the Province announced it is taking the next steps towards making high-speed Internet service available in more rural communities throughout the province. In the short term government will ask municipalities to bring forward proposals, and issue a call for information from service providers, so that solutions can be implemented quickly. Government will also hire a team with technical expertise to develop a detailed plan and work with communities on projects for further development. The team will be in place this fall.

Budget 2016-2017 allocated $6 million to improve high-speed Internet service. Government also commissioned a report from EY, a global leader in advisory services, to evaluate the current situation and offer guidance on the way forward.

The EY report indicates Nova Scotia is in a similar position to other Canadian and North American areas, in terms of availability of high-speed Internet. It also illustrates that achieving faster speeds in rural areas will need a mix of technologies. Doing so will require significant investment and partnerships with community groups, the private sector and all levels of government.

The EY report is available at http://novascotia.ca/business/about/.


Right to Know Week in Nova Scotia - September 26 to October 2

September 28, 2016 is International Right to Know Day. In Canada, the week of September 26 to October 2 has been designated as “Right to Know Week.” There will be various activities in most provinces and territories and at the national level during this week.

To enhance public awareness, Nova Scotia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has invited all municipalities to proclaim September 26 to October 2, 2016 Right to Know Week. A proclamation would serve as an official endorsement demonstrating your commitment to openness, transparency and accountability, greatly increasing the number of citizens who will become aware of their right to access information.

The purpose of Right to Know Week is to celebrate the right of all Canadians, and in our case specifically Nova Scotians, to access information in the custody or under the control of public bodies, municipalities, and health custodians as guaranteed by access to information legislation. Such legislation entrenches the accountability of governments by ensuring they operate with transparency and openness.

Nova Scotia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner is participating in this Canada-wide effort along with other Canadian Commissioner colleagues to raise awareness of the right to access information and its value, with a local focus on what it means to those living and working in Nova Scotia.

A copy of the proposed wording for the proclamation is outlined below. The OIPC has asked that if a municipality passes a motion to sign the proclamation that it provide the OIPC with a signed and sealed copy of the proclamation, which will be posted on the Right to Know Week webpage of their website www.foipop.ns.ca. The office also may Tweet about it on our Twitter page, @NSInfoPrivacy. The office invites each municipality to retain an original signed copy of the Right to Know Proclamation and post it in a prominent location.

For further information on Right to Know Week contact Julie Young, Executive Assistant, OIPC at 902-424-4684, or .


SAMPLE PROCLAMATION - RIGHT TO KNOW WEEK - September 26 to October 2, 2016


WHEREAS the [Insert the name of your municipality] has adopted the principles of openness, transparency and accountability; and

WHEREAS Part XX of the Municipal Government Act gives citizens a right of access to information in the custody or under the control of the [Insert the name of your municipality]; and

WHEREAS access to information ensures citizens of Nova Scotia have the opportunity for meaningful participation in the democratic process; and

WHEREAS a celebration of the right of citizens to access information will facilitate informed public participation in policy formulation, ensure fairness in government decision-making and permit the airing and reconciliation of divergent views; and

WHEREAS [Insert the name of your jurisdiction] joins all other Canadian jurisdictions and democracies world-wide in acknowledging international Right to Know Week;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I, [Insert the name of the Mayor or Warden], [Insert the name of your municipality], do hereby proclaim September 26 to October 2, 2016 to be Right to Know Week in the [Insert the name of your municipality].


Changes to Building Code Act Regulations

The Office of the Fire Marshall wrote to UNSM providing an update on changes to the Building Code Act Regulations that will benefit home‐based businesses in Nova Scotia.

Following extensive public consultation, changes came into effect on August 1, 2016 that exempt home based businesses from some of the rules in the regulations. Home based businesses no larger than 25 per cent of the total floor area (50 m2) of a home that the
business owner occupies will be exempt from certain parts of the Building Code Act Regulations
intended for commercial spaces.

These exemptions include:

  • requirements including wider doors and a barrier-free entrance;
  • fire separations, loading, fire-rated doors with self-closures; and
  • additional washroom facilities.

These changes will bring clarity to business owners and Building Officials, and they will prevent
undue regulatory burden for home based businesses. More information is located at: http://novascotia.ca/dma/firesafety/BuildingCode/


Fire Services Study

Work is underway to gather views on fire services throughout the province. UNSM has received funding from Municipal Affairs and is working in partnership with the province and AMA to identify the top issues, best practices and recommendations for next steps to ensure fire services are delivered appropriately and effectively. Pomax Consulting will be holding sessions with municipal administrators and fire services providers the week of September 12. If you have any questions, contact Betty MacDonald, .

Upcoming Workshops/ Events/Initiatives


  • September 9-10 – Workshop, “Liberal Arts—A Discussion: Their Contribution to Local, National and Global Societies”, Lunenburg Academy, 97 Kaulbach Street, Lunenburg. Click here for more information.
  • September 12 – Cannabis Conversations Session, Fire Hall, 49 Church Street, Middleton, NS
  • September 13 – Healthier Together: NS Health Authority Annual General Meeting, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., The Chrysler Pavilion, Pier 21, 1055 Marginal Road, Halifax.  Click here for more information.
  • September 14-15 – “On the Road to Asset Management”, Old Orchard Inn, Greenwich, NS.  (Hosted by AIM: Click here for more information)
  • September 20-23AMA Fall Conference, Holiday Inn, Sydney, NS
  • September 22-23 – 2nd Annual Energy Symposium - Cumberland Energy Authority, Springhill, NS. Click here for more information
  • September 28 – Cannabis Conversations Session, Pictou-Antigonish Public Library, 182 Dalhousie Street, Headquarters Program Room, New Glasgow, NS
  • October 5 – Cannabis Conversations Session, Mount Saint Vincent University, Rosaria Student Centre, Room 302, Bedford, NS
  • October 12 – Cannabis Conversations Session, New Dawn Centre, 27 Nepean Street, Gymnasium, Sydney, NS
  • October 15 – Municipal Elections—Get out and Vote!

Federal Updates--Summer 2016

Atlantic Growth Strategy - Pilot program to facilitate entry of 2,000 principal immigrants into Atlantic Canada in 2017

On July 5 the four Atlantic premiers and members of the federal cabinet announced they will work together on an Atlantic Growth Strategy and an immigration pilot program in order to grow the economy and support families in the region.

The strategy will contain targeted actions to stimulate the region's economy, support both innovative and resource-based industries and increase job opportunities for Atlantic Canadians.

The strategy will focus on the following five priority areas:


  • skilled workforce and immigration;
  • innovation;
  • clean growth and climate change;
  • trade and investment; and
  • infrastructure.


The three-year pilot program has been established to help address resource gaps that sectors are facing and to help businesses attract and retain global talent while also supporting population growth, developing a skilled workforce and increasing employment rates in the region.

The pilot program will test innovative approaches that will help retain immigrant workers in the Atlantic provinces in support of the strategy.

It will facilitate the entry of 2,000 principal immigrants into Atlantic Canada in 2017. Principal applicants can bring their family, so the actual number of immigrants could be several times greater. The number of immigrants is subject to increase in the second and third year of the program if there is sufficient demand.

The meeting was a follow-up to the Council of Atlantic Premiers meeting in May and the historic first meeting between Atlantic premiers and members of the federal cabinet in February.


Derelict and Abandoned Vessels

MP Bernadette Jordon, South Shore - St. Margaret's, has tabled a private members bill calling for federal government to take action on this issue. Her motion, M-40, proposes the government explore legislative options prohibiting the abandonment of a vessel, suggests an educational component on responsible vessel ownership, recommends improving vessel registration and ownership identification, and calls on the government to assist in the removal of abandoned vessels in cases where their presence creates an economic burden on a community. Transport Canada is undertaking research on means to address the issue of abandoned, derelict and wrecked vessels. If you have comments or suggestions by September 9, 2016, you can contact UNSM or Scott Kennedy, Regional Director Marine, Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security / Government of Canada / Tel: 902-461-3920. You could also contact your MP to express your support for the private members bill.