News release

Dates Set for Public Meetings

A series of 16 open houses will be held in communities across the province next month to examine non-resident land ownership in Nova Scotia.

The sessions will be conducted by Voluntary Planning, a citizens’ policy forum operating at arm’s length from government.

"This is a critical time to examine the issue because the province’s real-estate market has never been stronger," said Jim Moir, chair of the Voluntary Planning Task Force on Non-Resident Land Ownership.

"Nova Scotians have voiced real concerns about rising property tax bills, higher land prices and reduced access to ocean and inland waters," said Mr. Moir, of Mill Village, Queens Co. "Yet we’re also aware of the positive effect of the investment dollars flowing into our province from non-residents who are building homes and providing employment for many of our fellow citizens. These are some of the issues we need to look at."

The task force will determine the extent to which property in the province - especially coastal and waterfront land - is owned by non-residents, listen to the concerns of Nova Scotians, study the approaches taken by other jurisdictions and present recommendations to government. Maps depicting non-resident land holdings and a discussion paper will be available at the open houses.

Other members of the task force are Arthur Bull of Digby; Lloyd Gillis of Inverness; Pam Harrison of River Hebert, Cumberland Co.; Laurance Nason of Truro; Pat Nelder of East Bay, Cape Breton Co.; Alasdair Sinclair of Halifax, Dianne Theriault of Waterford, Digby Co.; and Tony Walters of Lunenburg.

Last year, Nova Scotia proposed legislation which would enable municipalities to levy additional taxes on non-resident property owners. The government has not proclaimed this part of the Municipal Government Act, pending further discussions with the public.

Voluntary Planning CEO Leo Dillman said that public input is critical. "This is the type of public discussion that needs to take place as Nova Scotia returns to prosperity over the next several years. We need to engage citizens in developing a vision of the Nova Scotia of the future."

Jim Eisenhauer, chair of Voluntary Planning, said, "We are fortunate to call home what is arguably one of the best locations in Canada, if not the world. And -- as if our history, people and natural beauty are not enough - we now find ourselves on the verge of a period of tremendous economic prosperity.

"At the same time," added Mr. Eisenhauer, "we must manage the effects of our good fortune for the best interest of current and future generations of Nova Scotians."

Voluntary Planning will submit its recommendations to government in the fall.

Voluntary Planning is an arm’s-length organization with a mandate to engage non-governmental volunteers and citizens in policy discussions important to the future of Nova Scotia. Members participate on task forces, project teams and sector committees, and report through an independent board to the premier and the Executive Council through the chair of the Treasury and Policy Board.

Interested parties can make a submission to the Voluntary Planning Task Force on Non-Resident Land Ownership in a variety of ways:

  • in person -- verbally, by hard copy, or at any public discussion;
  • by mail to: Task Force on Non-Resident Land Ownership c/o Voluntary Planning Board Joseph Howe Building Suite 600, 1690 Hollis St. Halifax, N.S. B3J 3J9

A copy of the background paper is available from the Web site or by calling 902-424-5682. The maps displayed at the public discussions are viewable on the Web site.

All open houses will begin with viewing of maps from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by presentations from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (five minutes maximum) and open discussion from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

SCHEDULE

Monday, April 30, 2001 Cornwallis Park Kespuwick Training Centre Theatre, Clock Tower Building

Monday, April 30, 2001 Antigonish Fire Hall Beech Hill Road

Tuesday, May 1, 2001 Yarmouth Yarmouth United Church, 25 Beacon Street

Tuesday, May1, 2001 Port Hawksbury Nautical Institute Theatre Strait Area Campus, 226 Reeves Street

Wednesday, May 2, 2001 Shelburne Trinity United Church Hall

Thursday, May 3, 2001 Lunenburg Fire Hall 25 Medway Street

Thursday, May 3, 2001 Pictou Pictou United Church

Monday, May 7, 2001 NS Community College (Halifax) 1825 Bell Road, Lecture Theatre

Monday, May 7, 2001 Tatamagouche Tatamagouche Centre

Tuesday, May 8, 2001 Musquodoboit Valley Bicentennial Cultural Theatre Main Floor, 12690 Highway #224

Wednesday,May 9, 2001 Windsor Windsor Community Recreation Centre Thomas Street

Monday, May 14, 2001 Parrsboro Parrsboro Fire Hall

Tuesday, May 15, 2001 Upper Tantallon St. Luke''''s United Church 5374 Highway 3

Tuesday, May 15, 2001 Baddeck Greenwood United Church, Lower Hall, Twining Street

Thursday, May 17, 2001 Sheet Harbour Masonic Hall

Thursday, May 17, 2001 Whitney Pier Trinity United Church Hall, 15 Matilda Street

Thursday, May 24, 2001 Liverpool Royal Canadian Legion Branch 38, 64 Henry Hensey Dr.

FOR BROADCAST USE

The government wants to know what Nova Scotians think about non-resident land ownership and has asked Voluntary Planning to research the topic.

Voluntary Planning, an arm’s-length citizens’ policy forum, will host 16 open houses across the province in April and May to provide Nova Scotians with a factual look at the subject of non- resident land ownership.

Last year, Nova Scotia passed legislation to let municipalities charge non-resident property owners additional taxes. The government said it would consult further before enacting the new tax measures.

The chair of Voluntary Planning, Jim Eisenhauer, says Nova Scotians are fortunate to live in one of the best locations in Canada, if not the world. He says we need to manage our good fortune for the best interest of current and future generations of Nova Scotians. 30-

Contact:

Chuck McKenna
Voluntary Planning 902-424-8650 E-mail: