News release

Municipal Amendments Introduced

Amendments to municipal-related legislation introduced today, May 5, include clauses that would enable municipalities to charge a lower tax rate to licensed, commercial child-care centres, and another to promote development of recreation facilities.

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister Barry Barnet tabled the Municipal Law Amendments Act 2004. "Almost every year, government introduces several housekeeping amendments to municipal legislation, often at the request of municipalities," he said. "Much of this legislation falls into that category. However, there are two important amendments that should be highlighted. One could benefit commercial day-care centres, and the other would give municipalities more flexibility to develop parks, playgrounds and other recreation facilities."

The minster said the legislation would give municipalities the option of applying the residential tax rate to commercial child- care centres and exempting them from business occupancy tax. "This would be entirely voluntary and would be the municipality's choice to do so," he added. "No one will be forcing municipalities to offer this tax break."

When he met with members of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) last week, Mr. Barnet told them why giving commercial day-care centres a tax break was a good idea. "Child- care centres look after children so the kids' parents can go to work," he said at the UNSM's meeting at White Point Resort. "We should stop taxing them like they are no different than muffler shops or breweries."

The Nova Scotia and federal governments already help commercial child-care centres to the tune of about $2.5 million a year. "All levels of government need to do what they can to support child- care centres and the families they serve. Affordable, safe child care is important because it removes an obstacle to the work force for low-income families and single parents."

Another amendment gives municipalities more flexibility to develop community recreational facilities. When a new residential subdivision is being developed, municipalities have the authority to levy a fee equal to five per cent of the development's assessed value. This revenue is to be used for municipally developed recreational facilities such as trails, parks, sports fields or playgrounds.

However, many smaller municipalities have found that it is easier to work with community and service organizations to develop these facilities. This amendment will enable municipalities to transfer the revenue to these organizations, rather than having to build the facilities on their own.

"Municipalities and community groups and service organizations are important partners in promoting healthy, active lifestyles," said Health Promotion Minister Rodney MacDonald. "This amendment will provide them with more options to develop safe, accessible places for people to be active and will complement our community recreational facility development grant program."

The amendment is included in the legislation at the request of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The province is proposing to give municipalities authority to offer a tax break to commercial child-care centres, and to give them more flexibility to build recreation facilities.

The minister responsible for municipal relations, Barry Barnet, included the amendments in legislation introduced today (May 5th).

Mr. Barnet says the provincial and federal governments financially support commercial child-care centres. He says with passage of the legislation, municipalities would have the option of charging these centres the residential tax rate, rather than the higher commercial rate.

Another amendment gives municipalities more flexibility to develop community recreational facilities. It allows municipalities to transfer revenues received from a special levy on subdivision developments to community organizations, rather than having to build the facilities on their own.

The amendments are part of a larger bill that amends three separate pieces of municipal legislation.

-30-

Contact:

David MacNeil
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations 902-424-6336 E-mail:
jal            May 5, 2004         2:55 P.M.