Regional Municipalities Bill Introduced

MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS–REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES BILL INTRODUCED Nova Scotia municipalities who are considering amalgamation will soon have a legislative framework in place. Municipal Affairs Minister Sandy Jolly introduced a Regional Municipalities Bill in the Legislature today. “This new legislation will be used only when requested by municipalities,” said the minister. “It’s voluntary. It’s there when they choose to use it.” The Regional Municipalities Bill is made up of two divisions. The first contains definitions, a description on how the regional legislation is activated, and an outline of the rules to change municipal units to regional municipalities. The second division contains provisions dealing with the organization, powers and responsibilities of a regional municipality. The majority of what is contained in this bill is taken from the Halifax Regional Municipality Act. The minister outlined the process for future amalgamations. First, she said, there must be a study requested by one or more councils in a county. Second, there must be a request for regional government by a majority of the municipal units. The power to establish a regional municipality cannot be exercised unless the majority of the councils in a particular county request it. “The province believes that municipalities have the interests of their communities at heart,” the minister said. “They will move to regional government when it is shown to be advantageous.” The minister noted that studies have been requested, and are about to be undertaken, in Cumberland and Pictou Counties. Colchester municipal units have undertaken their own study. A regional government will not be established in any of these counties unless requested, she said. “Our goal is to create strong local governments that meet the needs of today’s taxpayers in terms of their structure and their ability to pay, their ability to plan, and deliver services in the best way possible,” the minister said. The minister reiterated the benefits in amalgamation. Those benefits include less government, streamlined service delivery and more focused decisions. Oct. 26, 1995,