e-News Bulletin Sept-Oct, 2012

President's Message


Councillor Jim Smith

The September UNSM Fall Conference was a great success. A number of interesting and timely sessions were presented including shared service delivery and the Town's Task Force Report. These issues will be very helpful to municipalities in moving forward. A special thank you to the UNSM Conference Planning Committee and UNSM staff on a job well done!

On the subject of the Town's Task Force, the membership at the Fall Conference overwhelmingly supported the report's recommendations. A follow-up implementation working group will be formed to ensure the recommendations become a reality. I want to thank the Task Force members and Working Group for all of their hard work in producing the report. The Task Force made great efforts in seeking input from the membership through a series of regional meetings, spring workshop presentation as well as at caucus meetings. A special thank you to Task Force Chair Mayor David Corkum for his leadership and diplomacy in ensuring the Task Force Report received overall support. For a copy of the Towns Task Force approved recommendations, click here.

On October 25 and 26 I will be attending the Atlantic Mayors’ Congress meeting in Conception Bay, NL. FCM President Karen Leibovici will be on hand to discuss the findings of a recent FCM study on the mounting needs for infrastructure renewal and replacement across Canada.

On October 16, the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce released a report titled "Municipal Property Taxation: Time for Real Change". The report recommends that:

  • the Province legislate a limit on the commercial tax rate to 1.5 times the residential rate;
  • the Province eliminate the cap on residential assessment;
  • each municipal government should, within its borders, charge the same rates for the same service for all consumers; and
  • property assessment as a means of municipal revenue be eliminated in favour of an HST system, income tax, a flat tax or some combination of all three.

While the UNSM supports a review of the current municipal taxation model and elimination of the assessment cap, it does not support limiting the tax gap between commercial and residential rate payers. For a more detailed response to the NS Chamber report, click here.

On September 28, the Province released a report titled "Protecting and Preserving Agricultural Land in Nova Scotia". Of specific interest to municipalities are two specific recommendations−setting clearly defined land-use planning criteria, and minimizing conflicts between agriculture landowners and neighbours through municipal planning. The UNSM will meet with provincial officials to determine how best to address the report's recommendations. For a copy of the report click: http://www.gov.ns.ca/agri/.

A Council Orientation session for newly elected municipal officials will take place at the Truro Holiday Inn Express from November 15-17. The purpose of this session is to expose newly elected councillors to various aspects of municipal government. One of the new sessions offered this year will be a mock council meeting as a way to learn how to run an effective meeting. A registration notice for this event was sent out by SNSMR to all elected officials and CAO's on October 22.

I wanted to bring to your attention two upcoming events. On November 29, the UNSM will be hosting its first Ken Simpson Municipal Lecture Series at Dalhousie University. The session,  titled "Population Trends:  Solutions for Municipalities", will focus on strategies municipalities can use to retain and attract employees given these current conditions. Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Linda Duxbury, Professor, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. For more information on this event or to register, click here: http://unsm.ca/lecture-series.html.

On November 30, the UNSM, in conjunction with the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authorities and the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce, will be hosting an Economic  Summit at the Atlantica Oak Island Inn, District of Chester. For more information on this event or to register, click here: http://unsm.ca/2012-economic-summit.html.

Please mark your calendars for March 28-30, 2013.  Eli Mina, Board Effectiveness Consultant and Registered Parliamentarian will be offering the following courses: Minute Taking on March 28, Effective Decision Making and Effective Meetings on March 29 and Demystifying Robert's Rules of Order on March 29. More information on this event to follow.

The UNSM has launched its new website which is mobile phone friendly and has a members only section requiring a password. UNSM staff will send out the members-only information necessary to log in to this part of the website. We welcome any feedback you may have on the new website. To access the website, click: www.unsm.ca.

UNSM's Municipal Campaign Schools for Women saw some success this year with the recent election results. Of the 112 campaign school participants, 24 ran for municipal office and 10 were elected including one mayor, Pam Mood from the Town of Yarmouth. Although the overall number of women council members remains the same as 2008 at 24 per cent, there is no question that the campaign schools represent an important element in encouraging more women to run. UNSM's Women in Local Government Committee is striving to have women represent at least 30 per cent of municipal councils across the province.

As most of you know, I decided not to run for municipal office this time around. As this will be my first and last e-news bulletin as UNSM President, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank UNSM Board members and staff, HRM Council and other municipal colleagues who I enjoyed working with over the past twelve years. I also wanted to congratulate all newly elected mayors and councillors.

The new UNSM President from HRM will be formally announced on November 7.