Municipal Government in Nova Scotia
Municipal government in Nova Scotia has influenced the evolution of local governments across Canada.
What are some interesting facts about Municipal Government in Nova Scotia?
- Nova Scotia has a long history of municipal government
- First Municipality Incorporated: Halifax in 1841
- Second Municipality Incorporated: Yarmouth in 1855 but it was Unincorporated 1858
- County Incorporation Act – 1879
- Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) was established on August 15, 1906, during the Convention of the Union of Canadian Municipalities in Halifax. It was established to protect the interests of municipalities in Nova Scotia. The UNSM’s raison d’etre from the start was to review and provide input for all provincial legislation that would affect the interests of municipalities.
- The local governments in Nova Scotia include:
- 3 Regional Municipalities
- 31 Towns
- 21 Rural Municipalities
- 22 Villages
What differentiates Nova Scotia from the rest of Canada with respect to municipal government?
- The whole area of Nova Scotia is covered by a municipality.
- The Provincial Government must give 12 months notice on any legislation which would have the effect of decreasing the revenue received by municipalities or increasing the required expenditures of municipalities in Nova Scotia.
- The Provincial Government will consult with the executive of the UNSM respecting any proposed amendments to the Municipal Government Act.
- A Municipal Auditor General will be established to make municipalities more accountable to their citizens for the use of public funds and provide for value-for-money audit functions.
What is the structure of Municipal Government in Nova Scotia?
- The Mayor is elected at large, which means that every voter has the ability to vote for the Mayor.
- The 3 Regional Municipalities must have a mayor, all towns have a mayor and some rural municipalities have a mayor.
- The Mayor acts as the chair of the Council meetings and is generally the spokesperson for the municipality.
- The term of a Mayor is 4 years.
- The Warden is a Councillor who is selected by the other Councillors to act as the Warden.
- The Warden only occurs in a Rural Municipality, but a few Rural Municipalities have decided to go with the Mayor form of local government.
- The Warden has the same powers as the Mayor.
- The term of the Warden is determined by the policy of Council, for many municipalities it is 2 years and after 2 years Council votes for the Warden and any Councillor may be nominated for the position.
- Councillors may be elected at large or for a ward.
- All Regional Municipalities and Rural Municipalities have wards, while Towns may or may not have wards.
- If the Town does not have wards the Councillors are elected at large, in other words, every eligible voter has the right to select their top choices from a list of potential candidates for the all Counicllor positions.
- The number of Councillors varies from municipality to municipality.
- The term of a Councillor is 4 years.
Local Government Structures
- The Clerk/Treasurer provides the main administration for the municipality and the Councillors will chair committees for various departments and perform some of the administrative tasks of the department.
- Council acts as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
- Under this system there is a greater work load and responsibilities to Councillors.
- Generally this form of government is limited to the smaller municipalities.
Council-Chief Administrative Officer System
- This system provides for a separation of Legislative and Administrative Powers and reliance on professional staff to administer the operation of the municipality.
- The Elected Officials are responsible for:
- Approval of policy, planning and major purchases;
- Approval budget and set property tax rates; and
- Hiring the CAO.
The Appointed Administrators (CAO and staff) are responsible for the:
- Preparation of policy and planning reports/recommendations;
- Preparation of the budget;
- Administering the Municipality and the hiring and firing of staff; and
- Reporting to Council.