Provincial Issues--July-August 2015

12-Month Notice Letter - On July 9, the UNSM office received a 12-month notice letter from Municipal Affairs. The letter outlines plans for legislative, regulatory or policy changes from various provincial departments for 2016-17 that could impact municipalities. For a copy of the letter, click here.

Municipal Elections Act changes - Municipal Affairs is proposing a number of changes to the Municipal Elections Act which would be in place prior to the 2016 municipal elections. Four workshops were held in July throughout the province to discuss the proposed changes. Topics discussed included recommendations from the Elections Review Committee, campaign financing, election awareness efforts (voter turnout, campaign schools), potential future role of Elections Nova Scotia, and update from new Municipal Elections Officer Bernie White.  Councils are being asked to provide written comments to Municipal Affairs.

Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Changes - The Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco (AGFT) division of Service Nova Scotia is seeking municipal input into changes to the Liquor Licensing Regulations. The proposed amendments are as follows:

  1. Allowing Eating Establishments to provide up to two (2) drinks to a customer without the requirement to order food. If a customer would like in excess of two (2) drinks then they would have to order a meal, as is the case under the present regulations.
  2. Making the entire province wet and remove the requirement for plebiscites which are impediments to increasing the number of  AGFT Licensees who sell Department of Environment - Inspectors
  3. Alcohol on premises (bars and restaurants) and NSLC stores that sell alcohol.

Deadline for municipalities to respond to these proposed amendments is the end of September.

Nova Scotia Environment Working on Best-in-Class Inspection and Enforcement - On July 1, the inspection, compliance and enforcement functions from several provincial departments moved to Nova Scotia Environment, under a new Environmental Health and Food Safety Division.

NSE’s roles and responsibilities now include

  • public health inspectors and other staff in the Environmental Health Division who support and enforce legislation aimed at protecting health (new body art regulations and tobacco control) and who address public health hazards
  • conservation officers responsible for protecting forest resources, protected areas, wildlife, parks, beaches, wildfire investigations, as well as hunting and fishing compliance
  • staff involved in compliance, regulatory inspection and enforcement of regulations for fish processing, buying and aquaculture  
  • regulatory inspectors from the Agriculture and Food Operators branch, the Food Protection Division, and the Agriculture Protection Section
  • those responsible for most field operations relating to environmental protection who work on requests for environmental assistance, approvals and investigations.

NSE states that by combining all of these functions at NSE, the province is working toward a more coordinated, consistent and fair way to do inspection and enforcement across the province. The aim is to improve the protection of public health and the environment and help support a business climate. One reason for consolidating these roles at NSE was to lessen the potential for conflict in departments that need to focus on sector growth. By removing the compliance/enforcement aspect from their work, these departments can now focus on helping to grow the forestry, fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture sectors.

Meanwhile, NSE is working on clearer rules for business aligned with environmental risk and compliance history. It’s also streamlining processes, making it easier for businesses through online forms, applications and notifications -- to help reduce red tape and increase environmental protection.  Learn more by clicking here.

New Guide on Surface Water Withdrawal - NSE recognizes good clean abundant water is essential for people and the environment- a valuable resource providing our drinking water, supplying Nova Scotian businesses with water and supporting important industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and power generation.

An updated Guide on Surface Water Withdrawal from Nova Scotia Environment explains why approvals are necessary for withdrawals over 23,000 litres a day.  It also outlines the information required to complete an application, including renewals and changes to existing approvals. The guide features:

  • Three categories of approvals, based on environmental risk
  • Requirements for renewals and amendments to existing approvals
  • Submission requirements outlined by category and organized in a quick-view table
  • Definitions of terms and descriptions to enhance clarity
  • Examples of the requirements for golf courses, crop irrigation, manufacturing, etc.
  • Water conservation plans – clarifies this is now a requirement for all applications, and
  • Requirements for wetlands.

Learn more here.