e-News Bulletin - November-December 2012

President's Message


Councillor Russell Walker


On behalf of the UNSM Board of Directors, I want to welcome all newly elected officials to our organization. I look forward to meeting you over the course of the year at various UNSM sessions. Feel free to contact me directly should you have any questions or concerns. My email address is ; my cell number is 497-7215.

The orientation for newly elected officials recently held in Truro was a huge success with well over 100 new councillors in attendance. I provided welcoming remarks on behalf of UNSM. As someone with 18 years experience in municipal politics, my main piece of advice to the delegates was not to get too stressed out with all the information put before you. The role of a municipal elected official is one of constant learning and it takes time to get up to speed. Attending the orientation was a good first step as it provided the delegates with important information on council-staff relations, municipal finance, communications and municipal law. A special thanks to SNSMR staff for organizing this important session.

On November 29 the inaugural Ken Simpson Municipal Lecture Series took place at Dalhousie University's Potter Auditorium. This free event promotes topics of municipal interest and honours the life of Ken Simpson who served as UNSM Executive Director for 19 years, from 1990-2009. Ken passed away tragically from cancer on April 17, 2011 at the age of 51. With approximately 100 in the crowd, the event was well attended. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Linda Duxbury, Professor, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. Dr. Duxbury gave an excellent talk on strategies municipalities can use to retain and attract employees given current conditions of an aging workforce and youth out-migration. The lecture series was presented by the UNSM in partnership with the Province of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie University. A special thank you to SNSMR's Mark Peck who served as Master of Ceremonies for this event.

From November 20-23 I attended FCM Board Meetings in Ottawa. A big part of these meetings involved Advocacy Days where more than 75 mayors and councillors from every Canadian province and territory came to Ottawa to meet with their federal counterparts. I met with five MP's including Scott Brison, Geoff Reagan, Gerald Keddy, Peter Stoffer, and Robert Chisholm. I also met with Senators James Cowan and Terry Mercer. Other key topics of discussion at the FCM Board meetings included input into the federal infrastructure program and the municipal role in the sighting of telecommunication towers.

FCM has endorsed a set of principles for a new federal long-term infrastructure plan which include:

  • Secure, stable investments
  • Supporting economic growth
  • Flexibility
  • A balanced approach with smart partnerships
  • Building municipal capacity.

FCM is encouraging all municipalities to endorse these principles. For more information on FCM's infrastructure strategy including how to formally endorse the principles, click here.

FCM has also released its submission to the federal government with respect to its Long-Term Infrastructure Plan.  For a copy of the report, click here.

UNSM will be raising the profile of Nova Scotia's municipal infrastructure deficit, complimenting FCM's national strategy. Over the following weeks, UNSM plans to undertake the following:

  • Send a letter to each MLA accompanied by FCM's recommendations from their  infrastructure report
  • Register in support of the FCM Target 2014 initiative
  • Request a meeting with the Provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to discuss municipal infrastructure
  • Schedule meetings with key partners in infrastructure including the NS Chamber of Commerce, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Engineers NS, and the Construction Association of NS
  • Highlight infrastructure issues on our website, and invite members to put forward their concerns, opportunities, and their ability to participate in a new program.

Premier Dexter recently announced the formation of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building our New Economy headed by Acadia University President Ray Ivany. The Premier's Advisory Council on the Economy will oversee the independent commission. Their work is expected to take place over the next 18 months. For more information, click here.

The Province released its report from the RDA Review Panel. The report recommended moving from 12 RDA's to 6 Regional Enterprise Networks. Early in the new year, UNSM will be facilitating meetings with municipalities in the proposed regions and in HRM to discuss and receive feedback on the report. More details and a link to the report are included in the article, "Province Releases Report on New Economic Development Model".

On November 30, the UNSM, in partnership with the NS Association of RDA's and the NS Chamber of Commerce hosted an Economic Summit at Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island in the District of Chester. The summit hosted over 130 delegates from the partnering organizations as well as representatives from the provincial and federal governments. During the session we heard from Jo Ann Fewer, Chair of the RDA Review Panel as well as Ray Ivany, Chair of the Province's newly announced Commission on Building the New Economy. Delegates were broken up into small groups to provide input into both of these released strategies. All comments from the session will be summarized by the facilitator and put into a report format. This report will be sent to all members of the partnering organizations, and placed on the UNSM website.

I would like to congratulate Councillors Alex Morrison, County of Annapolis and Raymond Tynes, Town of Truro who were elected by the UNSM Board to the Property Valuation Services Corporation. Their appointments are for three-years.

On December 3, the Board received a presentation from Rob Wood, Deputy Minister, Community Services, on the Province's Affordable Housing Strategy. While municipalities do not have a direct responsibility for housing, they can play an important role in providing advice to the Province on the housing needs within their local communities.

As you can see, we have been quite busy over the past few months.

I encourage you to take some time to relax and re-energize over the holiday season.

Until next month!