News release

Amendments to Municipal Government Legislation

Municipalities would have more ways to address issues of concern with amendments introduced today, April 28, to the Municipal Government Act and the Municipal Elections Act.

"A healthy province starts with strong local government," said Jamie Muir, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister. "These amendments will help make sure that municipalities continue to have the right tools to meet the needs of their citizens."

The changes come after consultation with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Halifax Regional Municipality and other municipalities.

Changes to the Municipal Government Act include:

-- Providing timeframes in planning appeals before the Utility and Review Board. The board will have 45 days to begin a hearing relating to a planning appeal after all information is submitted and 60 days to issue a decision after the hearing.

-- Approval to appoint a municipal auditor general. This is the result of a memorandum of understanding signed between the province and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. A 12-month notice must be given to the union by the province before this can take effect.

-- Providing alternatives to banning breeds of dogs. Municipalities now have the ability to prohibit certain types of dogs they consider dangerous. The amendment provides alternatives to banning breeds while keeping the focus on public safety. For instance, instead of banning, municipalities may require that signs be posted on properties or dogs receive appropriate training.

-- Controlling tree cutting before development. Municipalities are now faced with instances where people are stripping large residential properties of trees and vegetation without a development permit. This authority is limited to lands large enough to be divided into 11 lots or more in unserviced areas, and lands large enough to be divided into four lots or more in serviced areas. These provisions do not apply to individual lots, forestry operations, or agricultural operations.

-- The amendments will give all municipalities the power that Halifax Regional Municipality has now to acquire vacant, boarded-up buildings that contravene municipal bylaws. This includes procedures for giving notice and purchasing property.

-- Clarifying municipal authority to control development around airports. This amendment will enable municipalities to ensure developments do not encroach upon airports and that developments are protected from air-traffic noise.

-- Streamlining processes for site planning and variances regarding architectural control.

-- A number of other amendments to further clarify the act.

The proposed amendments to the Municipal Elections Act will help clarify process and procedures relating to electronic voting. These amendments were developed at the request of Halifax Regional Municipality in preparation for the October municipal election.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Changes to the Municipal Government Act and the Municipal Elections Act were introduced today (April 28th).

The changes address issues identified by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, Halifax Regional Municipality and other municipalities.

Changes to the Municipal Government Act provide timeframes for planning appeals to the Utility and Review Board, approval to appoint a municipal auditor general, alternatives to banning breeds of dogs and controlling the stripping of large residential properties of trees and vegetation without a development permit.

Changes to the Municipal Elections Act clarify electronic voting process and procedures.

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Media Contact:

Donna Chislett
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations 902-424-6336 Cell: 902-440-5007 E-mail: