The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Nov. 6, 1998

First Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation,
Hon. C. Huskilson 3455
Anl. Rept. of the Public Trustee, Hon. J. Smith 3455
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 67, Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act, Mr. John Deveau 3456
No. 68, Provincial Court Act, Hon. J. Smith 3456
No. 69, Lunenburg Fire Protection Agreement Implementation Act,
Mr. M. Baker 3456
No. 70, Fisheries Organizations Consultation (1998) Act,
Mr. John Deveau 3456
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1653, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Deloitte & Touche Study -
Advice (Pres. Clinton) Seek, Mr. J. Leefe 3458
Res. 1654, Culture - Special People Drama Club: Production
(Antigonish) - Applaud, Mr. H. Fraser 3459
Vote - Affirmative 3459
Res. 1655, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Toll Hwys. (N.B./N.S.):
Support (Premier) - Withdraw, Mr. E. Fage 3459
Res. 1656, PC Party (N.S.) - Unite the Right: Initiatives (Reform/PQ)
Divisive - Views Reveal, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 3460
Res. 1657, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ. (Hall of Thought): Archie Rankin &
Dr. Alex A. MacDonald (Inv. Co.) - Induction Congrats.,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3461
Vote - Affirmative 3461
Res. 1658, Fin. - Economy: Women's Contribution - GPI Recognize,
Ms. Y. Atwell 3462
Res. 1659, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Tolls
Elimination - Promise (Premier) Fulfil, Mr. M. Scott 3463
Res. 1660, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Transport. & Pub. Wks.-
Procurement [Q pg. 3399]: Unresearched - Apologize,
Mr. R. White 3463
Res. 1661, National Unity - Resolutions: Meaningless - Cease,
Mr. D. Chard 3464
Res. 1662, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103: Twinning
(Tantallon) - Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 3465
Res. 1663, Fish. - TAGS 2: Early Retirement Prog. -
Min. Ottawa Revisit, Mr. N. LeBlanc 3465
Res. 1664, Educ. - P3 Schools: Staff Treatment - Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 3466
Res. 1665, Educ. - Adult: Importance - Recognize, Mr. E. Fage 3466
Res. 1666, Fin. - Economy (N.S.): Growth - Reports Recognize,
Mr. L. Montgomery 3467
Res. 1667, Coast Guard: Fish. & Oceans Comm. (HC) - Review,
Mr. John Deveau 3468
Res. 1668, EMO - Can. Forces: Bill Unpaid - Status, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3468
Res. 1669, NDP (N.S.) - Lbr. Solidarity: Claim - Explain,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3469
Res. 1670, Nat. Res. - Lewis Lake Prov. Park: Serv. - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3469
Res. 1671, Premier - Songs (Dec.): Implications - Consider,
Mr. G. Balser 3470
Res. 1672, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Lun. Queens DA: Brochure -
Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 3471
Vote - Affirmative 3471
Res. 1673, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Studies Expensive -
Waste Stop, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3472
Res. 1674, Econ. Dev. - Job Creation (Hfx.): Success - Applaud,
Mr. G. Fogarty 3472
Res. 1675, DND: Hfx. Rifles - Re-Establish, Mr. B. Taylor 3473
Vote - Affirmative 3474
Res. 1676, Health - Western RHB: Commun. Health Promotion
(Anna./Kings Cos.) - Recognize, Mr. L. Montgomery 3474
Vote - Affirmative 3474
Res. 1677, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Deficit -
Explanation Orwellian, Mr. H. Epstein 3475
Res. 1678, Sports - CFL: Montreal Alouettes - Terry Baker [Truro]
Success Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 3475
Vote - Affirmative 3476
Res. 1679, Remembrance Day - Services: Attendance - Encourage,
Mr. J. Pye 3476
Vote - Affirmative 3476
Res. 1680, Hfx. Needham MLA - Seniors' Comfort: Energy - Channel,
Mr. P. MacEwan 3476
Res. 1681, Culture - Old Trinity Anglican Church (Lwr. Middleton):
Prov. Heritage Site - Recognize, Mr. G. Balser 3477
Vote - Affirmative 3478
Res. 1682, Nat. Res. - Parks: Protection - Designate (5), Mr. C. Parker 3478
Res. 1683, Sports - Soccer: HS Boys Reg. - Parrsboro Warriors
Winners Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 3479
Vote - Affirmative 3479
Res. 1684, Agric. - 4-H: Contributions - Salute, Mr. John MacDonell 3479
Vote - Affirmative 3480
Res. 1685, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Residential Tenancies Act: Review -
Public Forum Provide, Ms. R. Godin 3480
Res. 1686, Women - Excellence Awards: Recipients (C.B.) - Congrats.,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 3481
Vote - Affirmative 3482
Res. 1687, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Asst. Dept.: Court Rulings - Follow,
Mr. J. Holm 3482
Res. 1688, Environ. - Protected Areas Strategy: Designation -
Commence, Mr. D. Chard 3482
Res. 1689, Canada Post - Prospect Rd.: Service Curtailment -
Reconsider, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3483
Res. 1690, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Mun. Amalgamation: Consequences -
Remind, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3484
Res. 1691, Health - Bds. & Hospitals: Debt/Deficit - Table,
Mr. H. Epstein 3484
Res. 1692, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads (Pictou Co.): Upgrading -
Review, Mr. C. Parker 3485
Res. 1693, Fin. - Enterprises Profitable: Sale Consideration - Condemn,
Mr. John MacDonell 3486
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 47, Municipal Government Act 3486
Mr. M. Baker 3486
Mr. John MacDonell 3495
Mr. Y. Atwell 3498
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 3501
Ms. Helen MacDonald 3514
Mr. John Deveau 3518
Hon. W. Gaudet 3519
Vote - Affirmative 3520
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Nov. 9th at 4:00 p.m. 3520

[Page 3455]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report, 1997-98, for the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Public Trustee Annual Report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998.

3455

[Page 3456]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 67 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 25 of the Acts of 1996. The Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act, to Stop Illegal Fishing. (Mr. John Deveau)

Bill No. 68 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 238 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Provincial Court Act. (Hon. James Smith)

Bill No. 69 - Entitled an Act to Authorize the Town of Lunenburg and the Fire Protection Commission of District Number One to Enter into an Agreement Respecting Fire Protection. (Mr. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 70 - Entitled an Act to Strengthen Nova Scotia's Coastal Communities. (Mr. John Deveau)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a recently released report detailed the incredible pressures put on parents who must earn a living while providing for a child with special needs; and

Whereas this report entitled, In Our Way - Child Care Barriers to Full Workforce Participation Experienced by Parents of Children with Special Needs, was commissioned by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers; and produced by Sharon Hope Irwin, Director of Special Link, the National Centre for Child Care Inclusion, which is based in Sydney; and Professor Donna Lero of the University of Guelph; and

Whereas this study details the impact on marriages and the tension in the home where parents, especially mothers, are unable to reconcile the schedules and demands of special needs children with employment opportunities;

[Page 3457]

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize the plight of parents of special needs children and provide concrete measures to alleviate the pressures experienced by these parents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waive of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am sorry, I cannot table that notice of motion. You may want to shorten it down a little and bring it forward again at a future time.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the part-time Minister of Health has taken exception to claims that the cost of consultants hired to reduce costs at the QE II are not $15 million, but perhaps only $10 million; and

Whereas the cost of the consultants' study into ways to reduce costs at the QE II added millions to an already crippling debt; and

Whereas the part-time Minister of Health attempts to defend these outrageous and foolish costs at the same time as he claims he unsuccessfully tried to put a stop to the exorbitant costs of the year-long study;

Therefore be it resolved that the part-time Minister of Health admit that he has absolutely no control over how health care dollars are being wasted, that he acknowledge that the job requires the attention of a full-time minister and that he appeal to the Premier to ease his load and the load that will eventually be borne by the taxpayers of the Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: I cannot table that resolution. It is much too long.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Nova Scotia Regional Assessment Appeal Court, in a decision dated December 3, 1997, ruled that Golden Goat Productions of Canning was exempt from business occupancy tax on their cheese processing operation as it qualified as a farm property and a farm operation; and

[Page 3458]

Whereas unhappy with the decision, the assessment division decided to appeal the decision to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, then dropped their appeal without even notifying the owners of the Golden Goat Productions; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Assessment Appeal Court again ruled on October 23, 1998, that this farm operation was exempt from business occupancy tax after the assessment department tried to again impose the tax for 1998, despite the 1997 court ruling;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the assessment department to cease and desist from imposing taxes that go contrary to the Nova Scotia (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: I am having too much help, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not going to table that resolution. You might want to shorten it up. I don't know what is going on, but seriously, notices of motion should be short. We want short notices of motion, otherwise they are going to be ruled out of order.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1653

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the outrageous price tag of a consultant's study to reduce the costs of the QE II has instead added millions of dollars to the huge losses of one the Liberal's worst boondoggles; and

Whereas patient care will obviously suffer as the dollars are sucked out of department budgets and hospital wards to line the pockets of American consultants; and

Whereas the cost of the consultant's study into this one hospital is about one-quarter of the total cost of the long-running, much maligned report by Ken Starr on President Clinton;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Health call President Clinton and seek his advice as to where they can find a bargain-basement investigator to look into the total incompetence and reckless spending of this government gone bonkers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

[Page 3459]

RESOLUTION NO. 1654

MR. HYLAND FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Bauer Theatre in Antigonish was recently the stage for a unique production of The Pied Piper; and

Whereas the play was produced and performed by members of the Special People Drama Club, an organization that allows people with disabilities to explore their artistic talents; and

Whereas this play was a true community effort with many local organizations, including Theatre Antigonish, lending their support to the drama club;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the Special People Drama Club on their production, and recognize the outstanding artistic contribution that persons with disabilities make to Nova Scotia culture.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1655

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Premier has said that Premiers Tobin and Binns are absolutely correct when they say that toll roads in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are hurting Atlantic Canada businesses; and

[Page 3460]

Whereas the Premier, despite saying what he did, refuses to actively oppose New Brunswick's toll road; and

Whereas the Premier must look himself in the mirror and take a reality check and understand that he simply cannot have his cake and eat it too;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately withdraw his support for toll highways in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and throw his support behind Nova Scotia businesses and consumers in alleviating the extra costs to Nova Scotians by imposing tolls.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1656

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Progressive Conservatives were proud to have as their candidate in the 1984 federal election, Monsieur Lucien Bouchard; and

Whereas the Progressive Conservatives were so pleased with Mr. Bouchard's political philosophy that they made him a member of their Cabinet; and

Whereas the Reform Party and the Parti Québécois recently met in Quebec to discuss the break-up of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that their members of the Progressive Conservatives travelling to the Unite the Right conference in December tell Nova Scotians if they support the initiatives of the Reform Party and those of their former colleague, Lucien Bouchard, to break up this country.

[Page 3461]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1657

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas every year since 1991, during Homecoming weekend at St. F.X. University, outstanding graduates are honoured through induction into the university's Hall of Thought; and

[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas two of this year's inductees are both residents of Inverness County, Mr. Archie Rankin of Mabou and Dr. Alex Angus MacDonald of Broad Cove; and

Whereas Archie Rankin served his community as a county councillor, school trustee, school board member and member of the Maritime Co-Op Services Board of Directors; and

Whereas Dr. Alex Angus MacDonald served on the faculty of St. F. X. and was a director of the Coady International Institute for 45 years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to these two outstanding residents of Inverness County and wish them many more years of health and fulfilment in service to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 3462]

RESOLUTION NO. 1658

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas a report produced by GPI Atlantic entitled The Economic Value of Unpaid Housework and Child Care in Nova Scotia supports the old adage that a woman's work is never done; and

Whereas the study, using the Genuine Progress Index or GPI, showed that if unpaid work is valued at an average rate of $9.20 per hour for housework and $7.58 per hour for child care, it would be worth $8.5 billion per year to the economy; and

Whereas women were doing 67.6 per cent of unpaid work in 1961 and were still doing 65.5 per cent of unpaid work in 1992, in spite of a marked increase in the number of women in the workforce;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the value of women's contributions to the economy and acknowledge that the GPI is a far better measure than GDP of the significance of work performed traditionally by women to the market economy and society as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I might agree with the motion, but I did not hear the final clause at all. I could not hear it at all. I wonder if the member would reread it, not the whole thing, just the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I have already taken a vote as to whether or not it be waived, and it was defeated.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 3463]

RESOLUTION NO. 1659

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the federal Minister of Transportation, the Honourable David Collenette, yesterday stated to the federal Standing Committee on Transportation that the toll highway in Nova Scotia was in contravention to the federally funded highway agreement; and

Whereas this Liberal Government failed to listen to the residents of Cumberland County with regard to a tolled highway; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation has stated there will be no more tolled highways in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier of this province carry through on a promise he made, and eliminate the tolls on the Cobequid Pass in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1660

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has a clear and unambiguous policy for awarding tendered contracts, and that policy is adhered to at all times by the Department of Transportation and Public Works; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley yesterday, during Question Period, asked a question concerning the contracts awarded by the Department of Transportation and Public Works; and

[Page 3464]

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, through his question, left the impression that something irregular had occurred with the awarding of a contract to Huskilsons Motors of Shelburne;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley do the honourable thing and apologize to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and to Huskilsons Motors of Shelburne for his unresearched and inappropriate question yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1661

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this House has recently seen a number of superficial resolutions on the subject of national unity by members who apparently feel that professions of patriotism and flag-waving are all that is needed to ensure the future of Canada; and

Whereas the 18th Century English philosopher Samuel Johnson once remarked that "Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel"; and

Whereas the poet B.P. Nichol stated that "the lack of substantial fact makes history the memory of an amnesiac";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House will cease submitting meaningless resolutions on such an important subject and instead will enter into a meaningful dialogue on the subject through genuine debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

[Page 3465]

RESOLUTION NO. 1662

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas earlier this week the first phase of the twinning of Highway No. 103 from Halifax to Tantallon was officially opened; and

Whereas in an editorial in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald it was stated, "The opening of a twinned, five kilometre section of Highway 103 should aid in the promotion of greater safety and permit greater access to Halifax Regional Municipality's new landfill near Otter Lake"; and

Whereas the editorial went on to say, "The improved section of Highway 103 . . . is in keeping with efforts to make the province's roadways safer and more efficient";

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and all department staff involved in the construction of this safe, modern link from Halifax to the South Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1663

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the TAGS 2 program announced by the federal government failed to initiate an early retirement program for older workers from 50 to 55 years of age; and

Whereas the state of the fishery in Nova Scotia is not predicted to improve in the foreseeable future; and

[Page 3466]

Whereas these older workers have an uncertain future with little hope for employment in the fishery or in other types of employment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture show some backbone and go again to Ottawa to see if an early retirement program can be implemented to provide for these employees in need.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1664

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the representatives of school staff throughout Nova Scotia asked the Premier on April 27th for a meeting to discuss the effect of P3 schools on 2,800 school workers; and

Whereas it was July 10th when the Premier's scheduling assistant wrote to say that, "due to the Premier's busy schedule, it has not been possible to schedule a meeting"; and

Whereas the Premier is the only minister whose staff acknowledged receipt of requests for a meeting with CUPE about P3;

Therefore be it resolved that the House condemn this shabby treatment of 2,800 school staff and urge the Premier and his colleagues to find the courage required to sit down face to face with CUPE representatives to discuss how P3 will affect school workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1665

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Monday the Annapolis County Learning Network released its new strategic plan for adult education; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's economy is one where low-literacy jobs are disappearing; and

[Page 3467]

Whereas the Network's Learning Centre in Lawrencetown has helped 247 adults get their high school education since the program began in 1994, extremely commendable by the way;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the importance of adult education and work with the Network's Chair, Darlene Ricker, to ensure that the program is not compromised.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1666

MR. LAWRENCE MONTGOMERY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the outlook of the Nova Scotia economy is expected to surge in the next year according to the Bank of Montreal's Economic Outlook report; and

Whereas the report points to the Sable offshore gas project as generating most of next year's economic activity including a boost in employment; and

Whereas this will result in an improved labour market which will increase consumer spending and housing construction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize these figures are just more in a growing list of reports from major financial analysts pointing to a growing Nova Scotia economy based on the sound fiscal management of this Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

[Page 3468]

RESOLUTION NO. 1667

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Coast Guard announced it will tie up three ships for five months and lay off half its casual workforce: and

Whereas a Coast Guard spokesperson has been quoted as saying this will not affect marine safety or search and rescue capabilities, that "we have a commitment to a certain level of service and that won't change"; and

Whereas that amounts to saying the government is committed to cutting more and doing less;

Therefore be it resolved that this House pleads with the federal government to review the Coast Guard services through the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed.

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1668

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Canadian military is making it perfectly clear to all Canadian provinces, pay up or do not expect our help in the event of a natural disaster; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government contends it has no records of any bills, saying they have either been lost or buried within departments; and

Whereas the Canadian military is showing that bill from the Nova Scotia Government, totalling $825,748.57, remains unpaid;

[Page 3469]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for EMO immediately provide for this House a status report on this unpaid bill and clarification as to whether Nova Scotians will be able to depend on the military in an urgent time of need.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1669

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the member for Halifax Chebucto says the NDP is willing to sacrifice the Financial Measures (1998) Act in their desire to bring down the government; and

Whereas the NDP member for Halifax Chebucto believes the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union will roll over and gladly accept this NDP snub of their wishes; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, who fully support the Financial Measures (1998) Act, were led to believe that the NDP would support this legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP explain to all unions why they claim solidarity with labour, but only when it serves the NDP policy of grabbing power at all cost.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1670

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 3470]

Whereas the provincial park in Lewis Lake is now closed for the season; and

Whereas the park is used by residents year round and by the public from surrounding areas; and

Whereas Natural Resources staff has conscientiously continued to offer quality service in this wonderful facility;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources congratulate and thank department officials for their efforts at Lewis Lake Provincial Park.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1671

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas it is widely accepted that the songs of Woody Guthrie personified the issues and concerns of depression era America; and

Whereas the recent hit, Dazed and Confused, is a more than appropriate anthem for the Minister of Community Services; and

Whereas Dire Strait's Money for Nothing would appear to be the theme song for the Minister of Finance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier consider the lingering implication of songs such as, If We Make It Through December. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver.

[Page 3471]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1672

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency has won the Gold Award for a general purpose brochure in the Economic Development Association of Canada 1998 Marketing Awards; and

Whereas Lunenburg Queens Development Agency is an example of a successful voluntary municipal cooperators; and

Whereas the brochure is also written in German to access the huge European market;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Lunenburg Queens Development Agency for its brochure and efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 3472]

RESOLUTION NO. 1673

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the QE II Health Sciences Centre budget is ballooning out of control, in part because of a $15 million payment to U.S. consultants for a study on how to save money at the hospital; and

Whereas the Liberal Government steadfastly refuses to give long-term care workers the wage parity they have been earlier promised by the same Liberal Government; and

Whereas the wasted $15 million for the study on how to save money could have gone some way to providing parity to the long-term care workers; (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government stop wasting money on shockingly expensive studies on how to save money and develop spending priorities based on sensible goals aimed at helping those who need it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member Halifax Bedford Basin.

[9:30 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1674

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the latest figures released by Statistics Canada confirm what this Liberal Government already knows, Halifax is a boom town; and

Whereas the numbers show 4,000 more people working now in Halifax than just last spring, a figure made more remarkable by the fact the population increased by only 1,000; and

Whereas this growth is a reflection of metro's expanding information technology industry and the positive economic climate created by the fiscal policies of the Nova Scotia Government;

[Page 3473]

Therefore be it resolved that the job creation success in metro be applauded while efforts are continued to forge partnerships between business, government and communities in all areas of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1675

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in 1965, for no apparent reason and ignoring military history and principle, the Halifax Rifles was disbanded; and

Whereas the Halifax Rifles 23rd Armoured Regiment was the only regiment to bear the name of this historic city with which it shares a 1749 connection; and

Whereas the former member for Halifax Citadel, Terry Donahoe, noted in a resolution in this House in December 1996 that Nova Scotia was the only province to lose its armoured component in the Militia Combat Arms Team;

Therefore be it resolved that since the former member for Halifax Citadel received unanimous consent on his resolution from this House in December 1996, that the Premier call upon the Minister of National Defence and the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on National Defence to re-establish the Halifax Rifles as an armoured unit within the City of Halifax for the training and safety of all Nova Scotian citizen soldiers.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: It is too long, however, we will table it.

There has been a request for waiver.

[Page 3474]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1676

MR. LAWRENCE MONTGOMERY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas last month the Western Regional Health Board announced funding through the Community Health Promotion Fund Program for Annapolis and Kings Counties; and

Whereas nearly $34,000 will help fund 19 health projects developed by local groups and organizations; and

Whereas these projects include areas like school nutrition, community workshops, tobacco education, support groups and transportation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the important role the community plays in developing health strategies and congratulate the groups in Annapolis and Kings Counties who received funding through this important program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 3475]

RESOLUTION NO. 1677

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the deficit of the QE II Health Sciences Centre has grown to $152 million; and

Whereas one item in the many reasons for the deficit is an embarrassing $15 million charge for a study on how to save money; and

Whereas an aide to the Minister of Health/Justice told reporters outside this House yesterday that this is, "good for the government" because it can be used to pry more money from the federal government for health care;

Therefore be it resolved that with Orwellian logic like this, we should soon expect this Liberal Government to being arguing that black is white, day is night and war is peace.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1678

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Terry Baker of the Montreal Alouettes is the 1998 scoring leader in the Canadian Football League; and

Whereas Mr. Baker is the only scoring leader in CFL history to have been raised in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Terry began his football career at, and graduated from, the Cobequid Education Centre in Truro;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Terry Baker for his outstanding achievement and wish him every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 3476]

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1679

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Remembrance Day is this coming Wednesday, November 11th; and

Whereas many remembrance services are planned for this Sunday, in addition to next Wednesday; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians gave the supreme sacrifice on behalf of their country;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House and all Nova Scotians be encouraged to attend Remembrance Day Services in their communities to honour those who fought for our freedom.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1680

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 3477]

Whereas the honourable member for Halifax Needham portrays herself as a caring and understanding champion of the residents of seniors' complexes; and

Whereas the honourable member demonstrated the depth of this caring by twice cancelling a tour of Northwood Manor when the media were not allowed to trail along, capturing her every move, imposing on the privacy of the residents; and

Whereas the true purpose of her visit was to extract details of the contract negotiations and feed them to the workers in an attempt to further their anger;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Needham refrain from using seniors and channel that energy into ways of making their lives more comfortable by helping to solve the problem rather than being part of it.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1681

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Old Trinity Anglican Church in Lower Middleton, the first church built in the area by Loyalist settlers in 1789, was recognized this past summer as a provincial heritage site; and

Whereas this church represents the heritage and roots not only of the Anglican Church or the community of Middleton but the entire Annapolis Valley area; and

Whereas the Old Holy Trinity Church Foundation Trust Committee has dedicated its labours to preserving this church and maintaining it as a heritage building;

[Page 3478]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the Old Trinity Anglican Church as a provincial heritage site and support the foundation trust committee as they endeavour to restore this piece of Nova Scotia's history.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1682

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources has already made a commitment to designating the province's 27 provincial park properties with recognized protection-oriented values as new parks under the Provincial Parks Act; and

Whereas the department also committed to designating at least five of these parks by December 1997; and

Whereas the deadline has been missed by almost a year now, with none of the new parks designated;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources live up to his department's commitments by designating at least five of the new parks by December 1998.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 3479]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1683

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Don Gamblin and the Parrsboro Warriors have won the regionals in the High School Boys Soccer playoffs; and

Whereas these boys are in their last years of high school and will share many fine memories of the great times they have had together; and

Whereas these boys are representing Parrsboro and area this weekend in Cape Breton in the provincial playoffs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Don Gamblin and the Parrsboro Warriors and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1684

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this week Nova Scotia 4-H members and leaders are celebrating their achievements and saluting the 4-H program during National 4-H Week; and

[Page 3480]

Whereas the 4-H movement has been bringing leadership and development programs to Nova Scotia's rural young people for 66 years; and

Whereas through the dedicated leadership of 4-H coordinators like Ankie Fisher of Shu-Mil 4-H Club, young members are encouraged to develop skills through club activities and projects;

Therefore be it resolved that this House salute the contributions made by 4-H members and leaders to agriculture, communities and rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. We have no problem supporting that. The only problem with it is the number of years that 4-H has been in existence, as noted in one of his operative clauses is incorrect.

MR. SPEAKER: That is no point of order.

There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1685

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas many tenants in Nova Scotia live in insecure and inadequate housing conditions; and

[Page 3481]

Whereas many tenants find the process of the Residential Tenancies Board to be unsatisfactory; and

Whereas hearings and appeals are conducted in such a way as to discourage tenants from initiating the process through a registration fee and time taken away from their usual employment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services provide people with a public forum such as a community meeting through which they can contribute to a speedy review of the Residential Tenancies Act and any possible changes to the Residential Tenancies Board process.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1686

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on Wednesday last, the Halifax-Cornwallis Progress Club held its 9th Annual Women of Excellence dinner at the World Trade and Convention Centre; and

Whereas among those honoured are three Cape Breton women: Dr. Jacquelyn Thayer Scott, President of the University College of Cape Breton; Patricia Pollett McClelland, a Sydney weaver and Executive Director of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design; and Marjorie Fougere, who expanded a part-time home-based decorating business into a 12 employee operation; and

Whereas this goes to show that Cape Breton, in spite of or perhaps because of its economic ills, produces excellent people;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton recipients of excellence and all those women who were nominated.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3482]

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1687

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas despite a Nova Scotia Regional Assessment Appeal Court ruling of December 3, 1997, that said Golden Goat Productions of Canning was exempt from business occupancy tax, the assessment department tried to impose it again in 1998; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Regional Assessment Appeal Court had to rule again on October 23rd that the farm operation was exempt from business occupancy tax because the assessment department refused to accept the court's earlier ruling;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the assessment department to cease and desist from imposing taxes that go contrary to the Nova Scotia Regional Assessment Appeal Court's rulings until or unless they receive another legal ruling from a higher court.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1688

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the former Minister of Natural Resources announced Nova Scotia's Protected Areas Strategy, pursuant to the Special Places Protection Act, on February 28, 1997, and promised the province would have five new ecological reserves by the end of that year; and

[Page 3483]

Whereas the promise went unkept, just one more in a long string of broken promises by this government; and

Whereas the Minister of the Environment now has responsibility for designating these sites;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment undertake to this House to dust off the Protected Areas Strategy and start designating the promised ecological reserves.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1689

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Canada Post has seen fit to again move the location of "the post office" on the Prospect Road; and

Whereas this so-called "post office" offers only parcel pick-up but none of the other services that we have come to expect from a community post office; and

Whereas this is another example of the deterioration of service offered to rural residents of Nova Scotia by Canada Post;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join in asking officials of Canada Post to reconsider the decision to curtail the quality of postal service on the Prospect Road and in other areas of rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for wavier.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax-Needham.

[Page 3484]

RESOLUTION NO. 1690

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[9:45 a.m.]

Whereas fire protection services are a basic and fundamental requirement of all Nova Scotian communities; and

Whereas residents in the north end of Halifax have once again been alarmed because they are faced with the closure of their neighbourhood fire station; and

Whereas if this closure proceeds, the impact will not only be longer response times for emergency situations, but higher insurance premiums for property owners;

Therefore be it resolved that this government once again be reminded of the consequences of the ill-conceived and short-sighted municipal amalgamation and its effects on residents.

MR. SPEAKER: Did you ask for a request of waiver?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1691

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in the March leadership debate, when promising more money for health care, the Premier said, "This is our own money. This is paying as we go. This is responsible government planning for the future of Nova Scotians and their families."; and

[Page 3485]

Whereas the truth, which has since emerged, is the exact opposite; and

Whereas this government is irresponsibly running up health care deficits, hoping to grab undetermined federal money without any plan for the future of Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Health Minister to immediately table the accumulated debt and projected deficit figures for all hospitals and health boards operating under the direction of his government's approved business plans and fiscal policies.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice is also too long, but we will table it.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1692

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Pictou County contains more miles of secondary roads than any other county in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas many secondary paved roads in Pictou County are in very poor condition; and

Whereas many residents, MLAs and department personnel have been requesting over and over for improvements to these roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately undertake a review of Pictou County roads with a view to upgrading those most in need of repair.

Mr. Speaker, I will request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 3486]

RESOLUTION NO. 1693

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the province has three resorts: the Keltic Lodge, Digby Pines and Liscombe Lodge; and

Whereas these resorts made a profit this year; and

Whereas the government is considering selling these resorts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn this government for considering selling anything that made a profit, and for being the government of last resort.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 47.

Bill No. 47 - Municipal Government Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg and you have a full 60 minutes.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today in my place to speak on this bill. It is a very, very important bill. I am particularly proud to rise on this bill because, for many years, I have been the Town Solicitor for the Town of Mahone Bay and, in that capacity, I have had an opportunity to see municipal government in action; in particular, I have had an opportunity to deal with, on a very practical level, some of the problems and frustrations that have been faced by municipal government in this province.

[Page 3487]

Most particularly, Mr. Speaker, there has been a general feeling among municipal government leaders in this province, for quite a considerable period of time, that the government has looked at them as merely tax collectors who could shield the government from their responsibility for levies which are in fact made by the province. Of course, foremost among those levies has been the educational assessment which municipalities are forced to collect and for which they have no control.

Particularly bothersome to many municipal units, and rural municipal units in particular, is that that composes a very, very large percentage of their budget. Adding to the frustration of municipal officials has been the fact that, Mr. Speaker, those municipal officials have constantly had powers taken out of the Municipal Act and out of the Towns Act so that, in point of fact, they can't deal with the local problems that they have been faced with. We have a long history in this province of taking powers away from municipal government, of tying their hands, of not treating them as an independent level of government but treating them as mere servants of the whim of the minister of the day. This is why I think this is such a positive thing.

There may be amendments that can be made to this bill that would improve it and make it better for all Nova Scotians, that would enhance the principles of responsibility contained in the bill but certainly, in principle, I can support the bill. I also would speak on the fact that this bill was drafted as a result of significant consultation between the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, municipal officials and the department. I would laud that approach and would recommend it to other government departments when considering legislation because frankly, this is not the way this government has acted. This makes me move onto the next subject at hand which is the regional municipal amalgamations.

In this province we have had two utterly chaotic and unsuccessful municipal amalgamations. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality amalgamation - the member for Cape Breton West is keenly aware of the difficulties with that particular piece of legislation - the fact that has been a catastrophe is widely known.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: A question, Mr. Speaker, is the member acutely aware of the fact that there were two pieces of legislation on this very issue, one was regional government and one was the exchange of services legislation? The regional government legislation proved quite clearly that it was a substantial savings. It was the exchange of services which was the liability, which I did not support.

MR. SPEAKER: What was the question?

MR. MACKINNON: Is he aware or is he trying to mesh both of them into one so as to confuse people?

[Page 3488]

MR. BAKER: I am aware that there is a distinction between the two but the two are hand in hand in my view. Municipal government is a function of what it has to provide. The regional municipal governments of this province are a function of the services they have to provide and in effect, to continue on about regional government in this province and to follow-up on the fact that the honourable member who has just spoken obviously had great reservations about the entire plan, I think it would be disingenuous if anyone in this House were to say otherwise. I am sure the honourable member would never be disingenuous so in that vein, never, absolutely never, be disingenuous. It is amazing to me to even think that the honourable member would suggest something which he didn't honestly believe to be true. Mr. Speaker, we need not go any further in that direction. I will have to get my tongue out of my cheek before I continue.

Seriously, this is a very important matter and the whole difficulties that have been imposed by the forced amalgamations have, in fact, hurt many residents of this province. There are many people in this province who do not feel that municipal government is anymore the government closest to them. They feel that municipal government, as a result of these forced municipal amalgamations, is the government farthest from them because it has no connection to their community. Their local representative, in many cases, is only one of a very large group. He is maybe marginalized, in particular, in a regional municipality where there is a very large amount of urban population surrounded by rural population. There is no community of interest. The most fundamental issue in municipal government is that there be a community of interest between the people in the municipal unit.

Municipal government cannot and will not work. This bill cannot work for any resident of Nova Scotia if that resident is not in a municipal interest where he has a community of interest with the other people being served by this municipal unit. The Halifax Regional Municipality is a classic example of that problem. You have many people in this province who are represented by municipal governments with which they have no community of interest. The people of Hubbards who live in a rural community, half of which is located in Lunenburg County, are forced to be attached to the City of Halifax. There is no community of interest with these people and these people have had no voice in the decision. In fact, the bill was drafted so that they would not have an opportunity to have a community of interest because if they had a real say on this, they would have said no.

I am hoping that the government, as this bill travels through, will see the error of its ways and I call upon the honourable member who just asked me the question, whose integrity is so high in my mind, to help assist all the members of this House to bring forward such important changes to this bill. I know I can count on his support and other honourable members opposite to make sure that we finally introduce in the Halifax Regional Municipality and in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the kind of representation for people in rural areas that people in urban areas enjoy. If you are swamped in a municipal unit you, in fact, have no say. So I am hopeful that this bill will receive some careful scrutiny as it goes through the process to ensure that we end up with the best municipal government system in Nova

[Page 3489]

Scotia that we can possibly have. That involves listening to people and yesterday we heard a resolution that there is a gentleman, a municipal councillor on the Eastern Shore who is going around consulting with the people. If Mr. Dooks was consulting with people, frankly, he would be the only person who was consulting with them, because no one else has taken the effort. It is very important that those people have their voices heard. If they wish to stay in the Halifax Regional Municipality, I fully support their decision. If they wish to leave, I fully support their decision.

If the good people of Hubbards want to join Lunenburg County, which I think is a wonderful thing, that is not my decision. It should be their decision. You have a divided community there in Hubbards where half of the people are in Halifax Regional Municipality and half are in the Municipality of the District of Chester. Frankly, I think there is a great wish on behalf of those people in the Hubbards area to consider a change. Frankly, no wonder because they are paying for services in many cases that I am not sure they are getting.

Before I move off the issue of forced municipal amalgamation, I would contrast that with the Queens Regional Municipality, an example where municipal government and municipal leaders were allowed to make their own decisions on how things should happen. And surprise, surprise, there were no huge cost overruns. There was no municipal bickering. The thing has been very smooth. What is the difference? The difference is, if you impose things on people, you get cost overruns, you get friction, you get waste, you get unnecessary administrative costs, you get deficits. The deficits that are plaguing the Halifax Regional Municipality, which are causing cuts in services, are as a direct result of forcing people to amalgamate, holding a gun to their heads and saying you have to amalgamate and we don't care what you think. I only contrast that with the Queens Regional Municipality because it shows us as a model of how we can do things.

In my own county, we have been very fortunate because we have a number of shining examples of how municipal cooperation can be improved. In my own Town of Lunenburg, where I live, and in the Town of Mahone Bay they have amalgamated the police forces. The police forces that have been amalgamated have been widely received with great acceptance by municipal leaders in both communities, have been widely reputed as a great success by the citizens of the community. The police service is better. The costs are under control. People have a real voice in their policing, which sometimes they have a concern that they don't have with RCMP policing.

[10:00 a.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, it is a shining success. Also, we have other examples in Lunenburg County of municipal cooperation that doesn't have to be forced down people's throats. Another example of that, of course, is the Lunenburg County District Planning Commission with the Town of Lunenburg, the Town of Mahone Bay, and the Municipality of Chester, voluntarily cooperating in that agency and that agency is providing planning services to them

[Page 3490]

in a very cost-effective way and they are not constantly fighting. I think there is a message here and I think that there should be more of this.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to move off that topic onto one of the most significant problems that municipal governments face and that is dangerous and unsightly premises. I am sure that all of us have heard of properties in our communities which are either dangerous or unsightly. In fact, in most cases, they have the double bonus of being both dangerous and unsightly. These properties are a real problem for adjoining property owners and the community at large. We can have all of the zoning requirements in the world, we can have all the wonderful planning laws in the world, but the biggest bane on anyone's property . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: The burr under their saddle?

MR. BAKER: . . . the burr under their saddle, is if their adjoining property is a complete wreck. They are unsafe, they are unsightly, they drag their property values down, they make it impossible to sell their property in many cases. They actually reduce the whole economic status of the community. In the Town of Lunenburg, Mr. Speaker, where I have the good fortune to live, where tourism is such an integral portion of our economy, if you have a property that may be in a very significant historic and tourist area that is ramshackle, it completely drags down the value of adjoining properties and it hurts the community as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, something we may not be able to do anything about here, is the problem with the federal government. The most ramshackle property in the Town of Lunenburg today is owned by a federal agency. It is in the centre of the Town of Lunenburg and unfortunately, the federal government is not doing anything about that. The federal government, through its agency, the Business Development Bank, owns this property. They don't fix it up and it is an eyesore. I only hope that the government opposite can prevail upon the Government of Canada, their Liberal friends in Ottawa, to take some action to address this property because we can't pay lip service to these changes. We have to carry them out.

I would encourage the members opposite to look in their hearts and if they truly support the intent of this bill, to make sure that both the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada don't become the owner of the dangerous and unsightly premises that this bill is designed to remedy. I only can hope that these provisions that are in this bill work because we cannot hamstring the municipal governments in this province with huge costs in remedying these problems. There has to be a quick and effective method of dealing with these properties.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, one of the honourable members spoke about the deed transfer tax and I might begin by saying that this is one of the issues that is addressed in this bill. There are some administrative improvements with respect to the deed transfer tax that I believe are contained in these provisions. I will, however, say with some regret, that in this province we

[Page 3491]

have municipal units that have deed transfer taxes. In Lunenburg County we are fortunate enough to have an enlightened municipal government that doesn't have this regressive tax because it is a sales tax on land. It is a sales tax which tends to discourage new-home buyers, makes it more difficult for people to buy homes, discourages construction and generally hurts our economy.

This measure, I am sure, has been forced on municipal government in order to avoid the horrendous cost of municipal property taxes, which in many cases are a direct result of government downloading. I hope that the government makes a real effort to stop municipal downloading because the deed transfer tax is only one example of the kinds of regressive taxes that are created when government downloads services on municipal units.

The day that we can accomplish in this province a system where people's services are entirely funded from provincial revenues, and property-related services are fundamentally taken care of by the municipal units, we will be much better off because there has to be a clear division between the kinds of services that we expect municipal governments to provide and those kinds of services that we expect the provincial government to provide. The more we blur the lines and the more we get duplication, the more we get unnecessary costs and taxes, like the deed transfer tax, which are prohibitively expensive.

There are others, Mr. Speaker. You only need to speak to anyone in this province who is in business and who is faced by the business occupancy tax and by the commercial rate of assessment, and in many municipal units they are crippling small business. They cripple just the people whom we all wish to encourage. They are Nova Scotians who live here, they work here, they employ their friends and neighbours. If we do not do something, in many communities in this province and in many towns in this province where it is a particular problem, it is going to create tax rates that force businesses out of business or force them into rural areas which may not meet their particular business mix.

What we have to do is to ensure that municipal government in this province is given the legal structure to carry out its duties, which I feel this bill is a good measure for doing, and also providing them with the economic ability to do that in a way that does not cripple its taxpayers.

As this bill moves through the process, I am hoping that the public will come forward and give us their thoughts on this. We have to make sure that when we fix this problem, we do it right because we have a long history in this province of not doing it right the first time.

That gets onto the difficult situation of villages. In this province there are many communities which, while not large enough to sustain themselves as towns, need a larger form of municipal government than just provided by the rural municipalities. The village commissions have provided that, historically. Unfortunately, the village commissions in many

[Page 3492]

communities have not worked very well. They have been impotent to do anything, they have been largely debating societies which have not accomplished anything.

I am hoping that the village commissions will provide for people who live in the larger communities in Nova Scotia, a real method of organizing themselves to deal effectively with local issues so that a larger group, the municipal council, can be relieved of that responsibility, so that they can do something specific to their own area. I am hoping that the village commissions throughout this province can take a larger and more important role in delivering important services to our citizens.

I also should speak, I think, to the issue of freedom of information in municipal government. Over the years in Lunenburg County, we have been very fortunate to have municipal government that is very supportive of openness. Unfortunately, there have been areas of the province where municipal government has not necessarily been so supportive. Mr. Speaker, I think it is fundamental that people know how their tax dollars are being spent, what their municipal government is doing.

I am hopeful - and we will look at these provisions in greater detail - that we can provide a code so that the rules of the game are clear because that is the other thing that municipal leaders often complain about, that the old Municipal Act and Towns Act did not provide clear rules for what information they had to produce and what information they did not have to produce.

Mr. Speaker, I hope and pray that we won't be seeing any further examples of bickering and unhappiness in communities created simply because information is not available. There may still be matters, sensitive personnel matters and others, that may have to be dealt with without complete disclosure in public, but the fundamental principle is that there has to be information available to people so that they can understand what is going on. It is no good to give people a right to free speech, if you don't give them anything to talk about, and I think that there is message here for the provincial government in that regard.

I would be hopeful that the provincial government would take a look at their own Freedom of Information provisions, or the lack thereof, and would make sure that we have consistent and generally broad disclosure rules for information in this province. It is quite apparent to members on this side of the House that this government is not very forthcoming with information. Witness, for example, ministers' statements. There seems to be a difficulty in producing those, and members of this side of the House are generally frustrated, because people get suspicious when that information is not disclosed.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the members opposite that people cannot help but be concerned, when information is not produced, that maybe there is something to hide; if there is nothing to hide, we produce the information. The same should apply for municipal

[Page 3493]

government as for provincial government. Oftentimes, there isn't anything to hide, but how do you know if you don't produce the information?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right, they have to produce the information.

MR. BAKER: Frankly, people no longer want the trust-me, patronizing attitude that some members seem to display in dealing with this subject. I think it is very significant that we look at these provisions for municipal government, but that we also perhaps take an opportunity to examine the same issues for ourselves.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's the principle, yes.

MR. BAKER: It is the principle that I am speaking to. I also can't help but speak to the fact that this bill also addresses municipal finance; it deals with financial responsibility for municipal government, and I think there is a lesson to be taken by the members opposite with respect to that as well. Financial responsibility and financial disclosure are so important to the whole process, because there is a direct connection between the service one provides and the taxes one pays; also, there is a very clear connection between government expenditure in one year, and the ability to provide services in the following year. That has been recognized with respect to municipal finance in this province, and I think it is high time that we recognize that is the case in the provincial government.

I know that occasionally towns and municipalities may chafe a bit under the authority of Big Brother and the Department of Municipal Affairs, and I am hopeful that the changes brought about by this bill will unshackle the hands of municipal government in this province, so that they can get on with their important work, so that we can get on with our important work, and so that we can work as a team. There is nothing more important that municipal government in this province does than to target economic development. The economic development that tends to work the best is the economic development that is done by municipalities. Certainly, given the singular failure of the provincial Department of Economic Development, anything that the municipal units did couldn't help but be a success by comparison. In this province we have not had a very acceptable record of economic development.

[10:15 a.m.]

I know in just the area that I am from that we have had initiatives that have been taken by municipal government that have made sure that projects of importance to local people, that local business was encouraged. It may be small things but it is little things like the Scarecrow Festival in Mahone Bay which gets assistance from the Town of Mahone Bay, at least indirectly or the Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Festival, those kinds of small things. It is as simple a thing as flower baskets on telephone poles. But when you live in tourist areas of this province, the appearance of your community is so fundamental to the economic success of

[Page 3494]

that community. It is not only a question of getting tourists to Nova Scotia, it is a matter of getting tourists to stay in Nova Scotia, to spend their money. If they are just driving through they do not spend a whole lot of money. We want to ensure that they have an opportunity to stay and spend their money, to leave something more with us than the memory of their face but to allow economic prosperity to be in their wake.

My colleague, the member for Digby-Annapolis, can tell me how important, for example, the whale watching industry is in his area and how successful that small thing has been as a part of the bigger economic picture of the Province of Nova Scotia. You look at the Town of Lunenburg which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are only two of them in Canada, one of them is the old City of Quebec and the other is the old Town of Lunenburg. When you look at those kinds of things you realize how important they are to the entire provincial economic outlook. It was the Town of Lunenburg who pushed that issue. It was the Town of Lunenburg who got this first declared as a provincial heritage area, then a federal heritage area and now a world heritage area. That is going to bring a tremendous economic potential not only to the area that I represent but to the entire province. It is something unique and that only happened because of municipal government. It did not happen because the provincial government woke up one day and decided this was a wonderful thing to do. It happened because people in their own community recognized they had something special and they did something to promote. If we can encourage that people throughout this province do that, they identify what they have that is important, then we are going to have a much better economic outlook in this province than we have hitherto had.

I am going to close shortly on this bill but I think it is very important that we all recognize what an important subject we are dealing with. The whole issue of municipal government is long neglected. I understand that there are at least 50 presenters at this point who are interested in this bill when it goes to the Law Amendments and I have the good fortune to sit on the Law Amendments Committee. I hope that Nova Scotians come forward and give us their ideas and give us their vision of municipal government. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities I am sure will have views on this bill and that they come forward and share them so that we can hear what people have to say throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

The Province of Nova Scotia is bigger than any one area. We have the vital Halifax area but we have just as vitally, Yarmouth and Cape Breton, Lunenburg and Kings, Cumberland and Digby, they are all important. No one is any less a Nova Scotian no matter where they live. I look forward to this bill going forward to the Law Amendments Committee, I look forward to this bill having a significant amount of public input and I look forward to any amendments and will consider any amendments that may be proposed as their value of enhancing this bill.

[Page 3495]

I have spoken with municipal leaders in my area and they generally support the principles of this bill and in fact, very many of the specific provisions. I am hopeful that this bill will get passage in this session so that municipal government in this province will have an opportunity to be set on the course for the next millennium.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill No. 47 and I do have some concerns. I do appreciate the effort by the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs and his department for the work that has gone on in coming to this document for sure. From what I have been told, this is the consolidation of a large number of Statutes into these few pages.

I will speak to the bill in general terms and then I will talk to some of the clauses and then I will make my closing remarks. I don't have a background in municipal politics. So with that statement being made, I look at regulations regarding municipalities, I think fairly much the same as any individual who has never been involved in municipal politics or any individual who has not been involved in politics at any other level. I do believe that it is true, Mr. Speaker, that municipal politics really is the grass roots of politics. It should be the area where people can be closest to a political regime and their councillor should be probably more accessible to them than, say, their provincial counterpart.

I think with that being said, if you were to walk up to anybody on the street and hand them this document and ask them for their opinion, they certainly would give you the look of you must be crazy if you think I can comment on that. I see that as a disadvantage only in regard to the ordinary person on the street. It may be the way that governments have to work. Maybe for those individuals who spend their time in various government levels that this is the way that we get information done most expeditiously and there is really no way around that but for the people that we are intended to serve, this is an overwhelming document. I would say that 90 per cent of them, if not more, will never read it and that is a sad thing, not only because they think that this type of document is best left in the hands of the people who know but it really should be accessible to the people that it affects and that is the whole reason for coming up with the document.

The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, if they are the organization that have been pushing for a document like this, then you have to come back and say, for what reason. If that reason is not so that they can better serve their constituents, there really is no basis for this document or any other one.

The bill stipulates that the province must provide municipal governments with 12 months' notice of any initiative that may affect municipal finances. Well, I think the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities will be pleased with that, Mr. Speaker. My question would be, is that possible? Is it possible to deliver on that commitment?

[Page 3496]

The bill strictly limits topics which can be discussed by councils in private and restricts decision-making to procedural matters and giving direction to staff. This, in and of itself, should be a good thing. This would mean a much more open process. People should have greater accessibility to topics that are discussed that would pertain to them and hopefully find their municipal councils are more accountable.

The clause that gives municipalities explicit authority to enter into partnership with the private sector, I guess we all know what this sounds like. I have some severe concerns. The question would be, would those partnerships result in better service or only cheaper service to the municipality but not necessarily any cheaper service to the taxpayer? So, if you are not going to get better service and you are not going to get it cheaper then, really, this should have a serious look as to whether or not the municipalities would want to enter into any of these agreements.

Area rating provision. That may be a good thing if we assume that there are certain areas which it should be deemed do not deserve to have as high a tax rate as other regions and, therefore, throughout the municipality you can have some differences in the tax rate. I certainly think people would be appreciative of that. The question would be whether or not the others who are going to have to receive a higher rate are going to be appreciative of that.

I recognize that there are advantages to planning powers, but I certainly wonder about by-law authority to deal with environmental matters, if this is not an unnecessary duplication of regulations by the Department of the Environment. I have, in my riding, a large agricultural sector and they have strict regulations that they work under, under the Department of the Environment and the Environmental Act. I would wonder very much if those environmental regulations, if there was the ability of the municipalities to bring in by-laws regarding environmental matters, if there may not be a duplication or if there may not be the same intent that would be carried under the Department of the Environment's Environmental Act. I would certainly rather see that these concerns are carried out by the Department of the Environment. I think, considering all Nova Scotians, this is the best place to handle that.

Clause 77(1), "The Minister shall in each year pay to the municipality in which farm property exempt from taxation is situate a grant equal to $2.10 per acre in respect of the land.". I do not think anybody would argue with that, most comments seem to be in regard to Clause 77(3), "The Governor in Council may, by regulation, change the grant per acre.". I think there has been some previous discussion on a similar clause which was to have that clause removed, and certainly that is what I would be in support of. I do applaud the government for its initiative on that grant; I think the farming community certainly has been interested in that and I think they deserve that.

Clause 81(5) and Clause 305. I discuss these two clauses jointly, Mr. Speaker, because I think there is a similar implication. One is regarding the municipality's ability to construct or install a gas line. There does not appear to be any indication here that a municipality would

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have any ability to apply for a franchise, at least under the Gas Distribution Act. I wonder if there is an intent here that they are able to become a utility and sell gas. The same thing applies in Clause 305 when it comes to electricity, and Clause 305 also speaks specifically to Nova Scotia Power Incorporated. I am wondering if this does not limit the municipality solely in dealing with Nova Scotia Power and does not allow for them to deal with other providers.

The reason I question the limits as to what powers the municipalities have in this regard - to either become a gas utility or an electrical utility - is in the opening remarks here for the bill, "Whereas the Province recognizes that municipalities have legislative authority and responsibility with respect to the matters dealt with in this Act;", it is not clear to me that they do have that authority.

Clause 174 regarding pesticides. I know that we would expect municipal units to be concerned about the health of their constituents. Definitely like this clause with regard to its attention purely to the urban areas and not to agricultural lands but would prefer that it had more teeth, certainly on the basis of allowing the municipality to write its by-laws and even stop the use of pesticides in urban areas. I think that there has been enough attention drawn to this point and I think that if the minister had been listening to those comments that he would have to agree that the outcry is great enough to ensure that the municipalities have a greater say in the use of those pesticides and the ability for them to stop the use of those pesticides.

[10:30 a.m.]

Clause 187 appears to give a standard of jurisdiction for liability, for municipalities, of gross negligence. My question would be, wouldn't laws concerning negligence apply to municipalities the same as everybody else or shouldn't those same laws apply and do we have to write something else differently for them?

I do recognize, as I stated earlier, that the minister and his department have put a lot of work into this bill. I think it is regrettable that you would at least have to be a Dartmouth lawyer or a Lunenburg lawyer, if not a Philadelphia lawyer (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: An East Hants lawyer.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Or an East Hants lawyer, for anyone to appropriately go through this bill. I see that as a disadvantage and I certainly can only assume that that is the way the world is today. I have one overriding concern when it comes to the Municipal Government Bill and in particular where it affects people the most and that is with tax collection.

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I look through the section on tax collection. I didn't really see a clause that I was hoping that I might see. I know in the existing legislation there is a section, and I am only going to paraphrase because I couldn't find the exact wording, but something to the effect that, if notice is not given to an individual, that their assessment still stands and they have to pay their tax even without notice. Well, if we go and buy gasoline, we get taxed. We go buy almost anything today, we are taxed. I would think that in the grass-roots level of government that there should be some greater standard by which people are taxed. In other words, it is not enough to say because you own property, you know you owe taxes. Well, you won't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out but I think that because of the tax dollars that people pay, it is incumbent on the municipalities to ensure that they get proper notice.

Now, some people would say, you can't really do that, municipalities have enough to work with, people have to be aware that they have property and they must pay. Well, I don't think anybody would argue they must pay. But for someone to be charged arrears when it doesn't appear that they have gotten proper notice and by that, I even mean an assessment, they should at least have an assessment. If they don't get that then I feel they don't have to pay arrears for their bills.

Everywhere else, it doesn't matter if you go down to the local hardware store and buy a product, you get an invoice and it tells you in so many days you will be charged a certain interest rate. But that doesn't seem to apply in the case of a municipality. You may not even get a bill, which would be your notice, but as along as you have your assessment then it really doesn't appear that you need to have notice. Well, I would say, you definitely should get proper notice and proper assessment and until you get those things, the municipality has no right to charge you interest, even though they know you are a property owner. If they know you are a property owner, then they should know that you have an address and that they should give you proper notice for that.

I wish I could speak as eloquently as some of my colleagues but most of the major points I wanted to address with this bill, I have done so. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to those of my colleagues to speak on this bill. I, too, have found this bill complicated and somewhat interesting. When I approached this bill, I had to do it not so much as a government politician, but I had to approach it as somebody who lives in the HRM and somebody who has been at the end of the service in terms of service delivery to my community.

First, I looked at the preamble to the bill that talked about things like, for example, providing things that are necessary or desirable for all parts of the municipality. So when I looked at that, I had to read the bill in that context. Then I looked at Clause 174(1) and

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looked at how the council would make by-laws for the purpose of respecting some things that are very essential to the community. For example, Clause 174(1) says, "A council may make by-laws, for municipal purposes, respecting (a) the health, well being, safety and protection of persons; (b) the safety and protection of property; (c) persons, activities and things in, on or near a public place or place that is open to the public;".

As I went through the clauses - and I did not go through every single one of them - I had to look at it to see if the information, or the by-laws that were in here, the clauses, respected all these issues in terms of community health and safety. There are also words in there like, safe and viable communities. It is not only important to look at some of these complex clauses but to read the clauses, keeping in mind the preamble of this bill and how that will affect communities that we live in and if that is in keeping with the essence of the bill.

This piece of legislation is very important because it is probably going to be around for a very long time. This bill also, I believe, was introduced to fix some of the problems with the HRM Act already. Mr. Speaker, when I think of this piece of legislation, I think of how this piece of legislation would work in constituencies that are extremely diverse, like in the constituency of Preston. The question that I ask myself is that we live in the Preston riding, and that constituency is made up of an urban area, rural area and also suburban. There are all kinds of different tax rates and there are all kinds of different problems. For example, in the community of North Preston, it is considered an urban area because they have water and sewer. However, they do not have some of the other essentials such as sidewalks, regular bus service and those types of things.

There may be a need for some changes and I would question at this point whether there was ample consultation. I know I have heard many times that this bill has been around for two or three years and I am not disputing that, Mr. Speaker. I am just saying that in terms of consultation, I sometimes wonder how wide it was or how broad it was, particularly in communities that are often communities that are on the fringe of society, what kind of involvement was encouraged there. I guess my question would be how the consultation went, who with, why and those kinds of things and whether the public, in those areas that are often on the fringe, had an opportunity to participate.

There are some good things in this bill, of course. There are many good things. It is the idea that the municipalities will be strengthened, that they will have more say, they will be able to make by-laws and those kinds of things are really important.

There are also some things that are weak. I will speak to a few points of some of the difficulties that I have with the bill. The first one I wanted to talk a little bit about is the in-camera sessions with councillors and with the municipality. I think that sometimes the public has this perception and this view that things are being hidden from them. There is a proper process or there should be a proper process that should be developed that is open and above reproach. Meetings that need to take place in private, of course, should take place in private,

[Page 3500]

but I think the public needs to know that there is some kind of process or procedure in which they feel comfortable that information is not being hidden from them.

I also look at Section 48(2), where it says, "The council may adopt different policies for different areas of the municipality.". I am not sure how that would work in terms of when I look at communities that are diverse like urban, suburban and rural areas. Sometimes decisions are made without consultation or without thought of how diverse those communities are. There are many examples of really good policies that have already been settled by the HRM, and some examples where decisions were made without much public debate or input or even information provided to community members, but decisions just being made. I don't know who to blame for that, if anybody. Sometimes I think that there are many things that are taken for granted after a period of time, of dealing with by-laws and those kinds of things, that sometimes people miss the essence of what that is all about.

I believe that services to the community are vital. This is really important particularly when you live in a rural area where there are many problems, particularly in the winter with snowplowing and that sort of thing. Clause 65(f) mentions the responsibility of snow and ice removal. Recently we heard that there will be a problem with snow and ice removal, because of the lack of funds in the municipality.

Let me say that there are many areas within the constituency of Preston that have always had problems with snow and ice, and some very dangerous situations. My concern would be that this is not going to get any better. There should be some kind of awareness or understanding that those communities are worse off. The condition of many of the roads too, are quite a challenge. In many areas it is unbelievable how terrible they are, and how many years some of this roadwork has been left and not dealt with.

I look at Clause 66(4)(a) as well, where it talks about the ability to borrow money, "with the approval of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, to improve a street that is the property of Her Majesty in right of the Province;", and as I spoke a few minutes ago, that is a major issue. How that plays out has been a difficult problem in the HRM, where roads are being paved, half a road, people are upset because roads are not completed, where a road will be paved and then stopped right in the middle, which means that when the time comes to plow snow and ice, those communities will be left out. They will only plow to the end of the roadway. There are some problems there. I would hope that these types of problems would be resolved with good provincial policies so that the municipality can get on and do the work that is necessary for them to do.

In Section 15(1), I read that the council may provide incentives for the early payment of taxes. I really don't know what that means. It did not go on to elaborate about the incentives and what that actually meant.

[Page 3501]

In the Planning and Development section, Clause 192 (c), there is a very important clause that talks about ways to ensure that the public are informed so that they may participate in any planning process that will move communities forward in a way that is for the well-being of all, and that is how I interpreted that. I think there again, communities have to be part of the planning and development of their communities, especially communities that are on the fringe and do not feel that they often have input. I was told during the election campaign by people on my road, who said they were often forgotten up here, things get done here last.

[10:45 a.m.]

In terms of unsightly premises, and this is a big problem within the riding of Preston, there are several areas that are unsightly, have been for many years. There have been petitions that have been taken by some of the residents to get them cleaned up, however, nothing has been done. By-laws are good only if they are used and understood and if they are used to the limit, if necessary. I would like to see that happen.

I would like to make reference to Part VII of the bill that talks about pesticides and the use of pesticides. We have heard much talk about this over the last few days. I would just like to add my voice to say that this is a big responsibility for municipalities. I think it needs to be clear and hard decisions made to protect people, not after the fact; that is really important. I think that people who live and work in our communities have a responsibility to ensure that our councillors are doing the job that has been set out for them to do and that we continue to look at our communities from the point of view that it is a healthy community, that is safe and that there are protections for all people. I think if we come at all legislation, regardless of what it is, from that angle, then we will have a different perspective in terms of what communities should look like and what they should feel like.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that I am aware of the time and energy that has gone into the municipalities through the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. I do support this bill with some amendments. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support, in principle, of the bill entitled, an Act Respecting Municipal Government, though I, too, have particular concerns with certain clauses. I think it is important that this bill be moved forward to the Law Amendments Committee to allow for some changes to improve on the consultation process that has taken place and to improve on a piece of legislation which, given the changes in government in the past 5 to 10 years, is much more important than it was not too long ago.

[Page 3502]

In particular, as we have seen changes in amalgamations - the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, there has been a downloading of services to a great extent on municipalities; it used to be done by the provinces. As an MLA for an area that is in the Halifax Regional Municipality, it is sometimes frustrating because on a daily basis there are phone calls from constituents in a part that used to be part of the old Halifax County, who have particular concerns with roads, whether it be lack of sidewalks, lack of paving, or have not been paved recently, or roads that have not had the opportunity to be fixed on a regular basis. That used to be something that came under the Department of Transportation, the provincial government, but with the amalgamation, that is now under the authority and the jurisdiction of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

People call their provincial MLA because they have concerns about this and obviously, I and all of the other MLAs do what we can for them. I think an important aspect of this is the Municipal Government Act which will address how the municipalities will be able to deal with things like roads, planning and so on, and not only deal with them but ensure that they are dealt with effectively. Since the province has given over the jurisdiction of a lot of these services and infrastructure developments, it is only through this piece of legislation that we now have some direct impact on what the municipality can or cannot do for the citizens in our ridings. I think it is important that we take as much opportunity as we can now to make this the best piece of legislation, so we can say in the end that we have given those municipalities an opportunity to do the right thing for our constituents and for the residents of the various municipalities.

I think it is important to understand that in the public there has been a lot of confusion in the past few years, particularly in my own experiences with the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is only a few years ago, in what was the old Halifax County, that many of the services were covered by the province and now they are being covered by the municipality. People have not understood the difference, they have not understood how this will impact them. There is also an educational process that goes along with these changes, one that every MLA, I am sure, is taking the opportunity to point out, but also one that must be done by the government generally to ensure that the people of this province, and particularly areas like Halifax Regional Municipality, are not only aware of, but are conscious of, the changes and are able to ensure that they go to the right people to solve their problems.

I want to talk a bit about some specific clauses. It is a fairly long bill to start with, I might note, a draft Act. Bill No. 47 is 249 pages long. There is a lot in it and I could spend hours talking about various things, but I think it is important, given specific concerns in my constituency, that I spend the time dealing with the very problems that are affecting the people of my riding, because of the inability of the municipality either to act, because the law does not allow them, or because they are not forced to.

[Page 3503]

I want to start with Clause 216 of the bill. There is a whole lot in this bill. Many clauses deal with planning and how the municipalities must deal with planning and, under that planning, how they will be able to ensure that our communities are built in the proper way. Let me tell a few stories, anecdotes, that explain the concerns that my riding, particularly, has.

My riding is in an area that is on the outskirts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, one that has had great development in the past 5 to 10 years. That development has gone on in a manner that a lot of people have had concerns with, development that has resulted in, in some respects, overcrowding of land, small lots, and that has all been done with the approval of, previously, the County of Halifax and, now, the regional municipality, without any concern or thought given to the long-term impact of those changes, whether it be the need for recreational infrastructures as simple as a park, or more complex, maybe a recreational facility, or maybe a youth centre. Those things have not been considered by the municipality when they approve the plans for subdivisions or development, and these provisions in this legislation will go a long way to ensuring that certain things are being considered.

Of particular concern more recently in my riding is the issue of erosion. Certain parts of the riding, in Cow Bay and in Eastern Passage, border along the outskirts of Halifax Harbour and the Atlantic Ocean. As many of us are aware in this province, we have a lot of large and powerful storms, particularly in the fall and in the winter, and there has been a dramatic reduction, in certain areas, of the shore because of shore erosion. Along the Shore Road in Eastern Passage and the Cow Bay Road in Cow Bay, there have been specific areas where, I have been told, during some storms as much as eight feet of land is lost because of the wave impact on the shore.

That is a concern across this province, I know, but particularly in my riding, many people are in desperate need of help. They have houses along the shore that are very close to where the erosion will be impacting them very soon. It is not only the private landowners - although they are very important - it is also the roadway, a roadway that now is owned by the Halifax Regional Municipality but is on a stretch of the road, Shore Road particularly, where the shore is now only a few feet from the actual road, and it will only take a few more storms and maybe a couple of more years before that road is going to eaten away through shore erosion. The cost to the municipality to repair that road, and possibly to the province, is going to be great.

What we need is legislation to ensure that these sorts of circumstances now and in the future are protected so that the erosion problems are going to be addressed, and that again, through planning, through thinking forward, through planning ahead, hopefully we can prevent private landowners and our own infrastructure from being drastically impacted by shore erosion.

[Page 3504]

Clause 216 (1) states, "A municipal planning strategy may include . . .", may include, I think those are the key words, ". . . statements of policy with respect to any or all of the following:". So the municipality can create a planning strategy which is an overall strategy for how it will deal with planning. There are couple of concerns I have. First of all, it only says may. It means that certain things do not have to be in that strategy. In particular, I will note Clause 216(1)(c) and (d).

Clause 216(1)(c) says the municipality may put in its strategy "the protection, use and development of lands within the municipality, including the identification, protection, use and development of lands subject to flooding, steep slopes, lands susceptible to subsidence, erosion or other geological hazards, swamps, marshes or other environmentally sensitive areas;", and in (d) they may provide for, "stormwater management and erosion control;".

I think, given the nature of this province, being an ocean-bound province, that it shouldn't be up to a municipality to decide whether or not they have a policy with regard to planning around erosion, it should be mandatory. Some will say that that might be a bit drastic, because municipalities need flexibility, but the municipalities of this province that do border along areas where there are going to be erosion problems, not only should, but must ensure that they are not allowing and approving planning of land and subdivision of land in a way that is, in the future, going to affect private residences and infrastructure within those municipalities. To say that they may address the issue through erosion control is not enough. They must address erosion control in their municipal planning strategy. I have a drastic concern with how that is worded.

There is another concern in my riding, and it is one that I see throughout Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage. Again, in the past 10 or 15 years, there has been a lot of development. What we have through that development, I have been finding, are people calling me saying, my land is being flooded whenever there is a heavy rain or a spring run-off from the snow melting. You will go to their land and see that it is a recent development, and 9 times out of 10, it was a marshy area, a flood plain or a watercourse area near a lake or a river, and the particular problems around it are that when they built all these houses, the developers did not ensure that they were addressing the drainage necessary for those houses.

What happens in the end is, they build a house, they quickly sell it, hopefully during a dry season, I presume. They leave, and then a year or two later, you start to see these flood problems; people's backyards being fully flooded with water, or in other cases - and I have seen this, critical areas of Eastern Passage - where they have created french drains to address the issue on their land, and it has ended up flooding the people further down. That is a real concern, not only for one or two residents but for many. What we have is a situation where municipalities are approving the subdivision of a parcel of land, or the actual development of an entire subdivision of houses, without addressing the issue of watercourse management and stormwater management.

[Page 3505]

Again, the municipal planning strategy in Clause 216 says that they may address those issues. Given the amount of rain we have in this province, given the spring run-off and how high it can be in this province, I don't think it should be an issue of may, I think we must have municipalities that are ensuring that they are addressing this issue, so that in the long term, they are not allowing and approving the subdivision of land and approval of building permits and housing permits without actually ensuring that those issues are being addressed. It is unfortunate that if what we have is a situation where developers can move in, make a quick buck, build the houses, and then leave without actually allowing for the drainage that ensures that the people have good use of their land.

When someone is buying a piece of land, I now it is caveat emptor in many cases, but buyer beware is not enough. I think that there must be protections, and I think the municipality has a responsibility, because they are the ones that have to approve it, and if they are not approving it in a way that ensures that that land can be used properly, then it is a dire problem for the people later on and it is for the politicians in the municipalities who do nothing. We have a chance in this House today to address this.

[11:00 a.m.]

I think we would be remiss if we walk away from this piece of legislation without requiring the municipalities to, indeed, address the issue in a way that will ensure that drainage, storm water management issues and erosion issues are being addressed because if we do not make the attempt and actually address this issue through the new Municipal Government Act, the window will be shut and the municipalities again can ignore the issues and say we do not have to actually address this issue, and that would be unfortunate.

Clause 219 of the bill as well, Mr. Speaker, addresses the issue, and it states, "A municipality shall not act in a manner that is inconsistent with a municipal planning strategy.". Again, if the municipal planning strategy required specific things, not making them discretionary but mandatory - such as management of erosion, management of storm water, management of flood plains and drainage - in Clause 216, then Clause 219 would make it binding on the municipality and ensure that they actually are going to do their job.

Clause 221, Mr. Speaker, deals with the issue of a planning strategy as well. It states in Clause 221(1), "Where a council adopts a municipal planning strategy or a municipal planning strategy amendment that contains polices about regulating land use and development, the council shall, at the same time, adopt a land-use by-law or land-use by-law amendment that shall enable the policies to be carried out.". So if, again, we require the development of a municipal planning strategy and we require certain things to be in it, this law would also force the councils to also create the land-use by-laws to implement the particular municipal planning strategy.

[Page 3506]

I think that is important as well but it all starts back with the municipal planning strategy. That is the all-encompassing document that then permeates down to the land-use by-laws and further. So the first step is to ensure that the municipal planning strategy is binding and then deals with the land-use by-law.

Then it goes on in Clause 222(4) of that bill, Mr. Speaker, to talk about what the land-use by-law may or may not address. Again, the operative word is may. This Legislature and all the people in it, I am sure, are very well aware of the difference between may and shall. May means it is discretionary, the municipality does not have to do anything; shall means it is mandatory and if they do not act, then they can be in deep trouble.

Clause 222(4) states that a land-use by-law may address the issue of flooding and development on marshy land. Going back to issues in my own riding, we have many circumstances, as developers see prime land close to a city centre - as close as possible now, in places like Eastern Passage and Cole Harbour - and they see the opportunity to come in, quickly backfill the land, build houses without ever really addressing the marshy land that was there and the drainage issues that it created. That is a long-term problem and the developers are not there long term, but the municipality is and it must begin to address the issue clearly.

Also I want to deal with Clause 229 of the bill, Mr. Speaker, and it deals with development agreements. Let me tell a little story about development agreements because this is my understanding of them, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs may want to correct me on it. You can have all the land-use planning by-laws you want, you can have all the municipal planning strategies you want, but the unfortunate thing is that then in many cases developers will, through enticement or what have you, negotiate development agreements with municipalities that can change the rules.

I have a very classic example in my own riding. Mr. Speaker, where a developer, one who is well known to many people in this Legislature, wanted to build a subdivision in Eastern Passage. A land-use planning process and review had been done by Eastern Passage and Cow Bay where they had recommended single-family dwellings only. There had already been a large number of semi-detached or duplex homes, as they like to be called in Eastern Passage, and they wanted to encourage more single-family dwellings, but what we had was a problem where the developer did not like that. He could not make enough money off the land I guess.

He went to the municipality and got agreement that they would change the rules to allow a certain number of semi-detached but also small lots, 35 feet wide as compared to the average, which I think is being 60 feet wide. So, basically, if you went through this subdivision, which is partially developed now, you have houses very close together, 35 foot wide lots, Mr. Speaker. It goes against the complete intention of the community that clearly developed a land-use by-law system and municipal development plan that identified that they

[Page 3507]

did not want this to happen, yet the municipality said, well, we don't care what you think, we are going to do what we want.

You can have all the rules you want under municipal planning strategy and land-use by-laws and so on. If development agreements are to be allowed in this legislation and I am not saying they should not be, then development agreements must also address the issues of concern to the people. Again, develop agreements use the words, may, discretion; not shall, mandatory. I have a great concern with that as well.

Again, Clause 229 (1) of that Act deals with the issue of, "A development agreement may contain terms with respect to (a) matters that a land-use by-law may contain;", so again, whatever the land-use by-law has the development agreement may also deal with. It also states in Clause 229(1)(d), "easements for the construction, maintenance or improvement of watercourses, ditches, land drainage works, stormwater systems, wastewater facilities, water systems and other utilities; (e) grading or alteration in elevation or contour of the land and provision for the disposal of storm and surface water; (f) the construction, in whole or in part, of a stormwater system, wastewater facilities and water system;".

So again, if the developer does not like what the land-use by-law says or what the community wants in their community, he or she will go directly to the municipality and try to develop a development agreement. We must ensure if that is done that there are mandatory provisions for addressing flood water, drainage, wastewater removal and if we do not then we have the problems that, as I say, in my riding we particularly have. We have systems where the developers build, they leave not only a house and a lawn but usually a large pool of water as well from time to time during the year because they were not required to take the time to address the issue of how they would be dealing with the wastewater.

Clause 233 deals with something called, site-plan approval and again, there is that magic word, may, as compared to shall. A municipality is given full discretion to ignore the rules set down by the people in a community or to ignore what is good planning for a community. Again, in Clause 233 (4)(j), is says, "A site-plan approval may deal with (j) the grading or alteration in elevation or contour of the land and provision for the management of storm and surface water;". Again, may is not enough. If site-plan approvals are to be provided through this legislation, then they must address the issue before approval of wastewater and stormwater management. To do it otherwise is to put a lot of people in peril and costs that are going to be directly affecting them later on.

Another issue that comes up over this whole process of planning and I can give you some classic examples because in my riding there are particular communities that have been developed in the last 10 or 15 years and again, as I say, ones where the houses can be quite close together. There are no recreational facilities, no parks, no grass land, no trails. All I have to do is look not too far away in the riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour where my honourable friend is the MLA, in places like Forest Hills, where the Crown in the early 1970's

[Page 3508]

took the time to develop that land in a way that ensured that it wasn't only developed by developers but it was developed in a way that included senior's housing and included wide-open spaces, green belts, trails, park land, churches, schools. Now that is planned development.

We have the opportunity through the Municipal Government Bill to ensure that municipalities consider all of those things before they approve subdivisions of land and development of large housing projects. To do otherwise, is to put us in a position where we are allowing developers to come in use and develop land without being required to address the long-term impact of what they are doing. If municipalities are to have control over the planning of communities then they must have the responsibility of addressing it in a way that it is right.

The other issue is, of course, overcrowding of schools. It is funny how the municipality can create large subdivisions and then pass the buck to the school board and the province for developing the schools, I think it is vital. Again, I have direct experience in my own riding that we ensure that municipalities when approving subdivisions - and I think it should come under the municipal planning strategy - that no developments will be approved until there has been consideration of overcrowding of potential schools in the area. Let's plan more than one year ahead or to the next tax grab by the municipalities. Let's begin to look longer term. How is that going to impact in two years when we have overcrowded schools? How is that going to impact in five years when we have teenagers who need places to go? Those are the questions that have to be asked by municipalities if they are going to begin to have the power to address the planning issues directly.

I want to turn to Part XII of Bill No. 47. The title of it is Streets and Highways. I want to deal specifically with Clause 310. Currently in parts of my riding, particularly Eastern Passage but to a lesser extent Cow Bay, there are a lot of private roads that have been there forever, as far as most people can tell. The community goes back to 1752. Those roads at one time were owned or maybe they were just driveways for people, but they became roads as the land was subdivided and houses were built. There are private lanes, usually not very wide, but also not in very good condition.

In some cases, there have been major development. There is one where there were a few houses only 10 years ago and now there are 30 or 40 semi-detached house on the same road. That road is a private lane and the municipality, under the current Halifax Regional Municipality Act, has no authority to take over the road, to deal with the roads. There are a lot of problems that are created with roads like that. I have seen them in the spring with runoff, with potholes and major grading problems, or in the winter with plowing or in the summer with just regular infrastructure problems.

[Page 3509]

I will give credit to this piece of legislation. It now allows, from my reading, and maybe the Minister of Municipal Affairs can confirm this, because I know we have had discussions prior to this, a letter I had written to him, confirm that now this would allow the municipalities, it gives them the authority to assume these roads, where they want to, to then be able to address the concerns of the citizens. This legislation does not mean the roads will be taken over, but it will ensure, I hope, that the municipalities now have the authority to assume these roads where they feel it is the appropriate place to do it. That is all that we can do as a Legislature. We took out of the hands of the municipality the power to take over these roads when we created the Halifax Regional Municipality Act and I hope that we now have given them back the power to take them over. That is a decision for the municipality to make, but the first step, I hope, is the passage of legislation that allows them to do it.

I also want to note that Clause 310(3) states that "No road, or allowance for a road, becomes a street until the council formally accepts the road or allowance, or the road or allowance is vested in the municipality according to law.". Again, I hope that means that gives them the power to take over where council sees fit.

Clause 310(4) states "Possession, occupation, use or obstruction of a street, or a part of a street, does not give and never has given any estate, right or title to the street.". I know that there are going to be concerns raised as HRM decides to take over certain roads, if this legislation is passed. I just hope that it is done in a fair manner and I hope this legislation does not allow for any sort of quick grabs by the municipality, where some people do have claims to title for the land that is now a private lane. We must ensure that the residents of those roads actually have good facilities and road services because they pay taxes like everyone else and usually at a very similar rate. Not only should we allow them to have the roads taken over by the council, but if there are owners of those roads, that they be treated fairly.

I am now actually going to turn to the clauses on freedom of information. I think it is Clause 463, it is similar to a piece of legislation that we introduced dealing with the Freedom of Information Act. As the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act now stands, it does not deal with municipalities. Municipalities are not bound by the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. I see that in this piece of legislation there is an attempt here to try to ensure that they are and I applaud the Minister of Municipal Affairs for making that effort. I think I have to look into it in a little more detail to ensure that I feel comfortable with all the provisions but I do see that there is provision made for a review officer and I believe it is a review officer under the Freedom of Information Act, so we don't have duplicitous action going on. It does allow for the decisions to be made and for the review officer to address them. I would hope though that this would be a good opportunity to give the review officer a little more power, first with the municipalities, and then hopefully later on, with government in general. But let's take that first step to ensuring the freedom of information is an open process, a transparent process and one with some teeth. If the Municipal Government Bill is to be passed, I hope that it will include a freedom of information provision that allows for that.

[Page 3510]

[11:15 a.m.]

Now I will turn to inspectors' powers. Part XXI entitled General, powers or provisions, but under Section 503, and as many in this House may know, this is something I have raised before under the forestry Act, it provides for powers of an inspector. In particular Clause 503(3) goes on to talk about entering premises and so on. Those are provisions that you will generally find in most pieces of enforced legislation in this province. I do have a couple of concerns with how it is addressed.

In particular, Clause 503(3)(c) states, "and where a person refuses to allow the inspector to exercise, or attempts to interfere or interferes with the inspector in the exercise of, a power granted pursuant to this Act, the inspector may apply to a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for an order (i) to allow the inspector entry to the building, and (ii) restraining a person from further interference;". Somewhat of an injunctive process, and I support injunctive processes where it comes to allowing for an inspector for a municipality to enter premises, my concern though is the cost and the delay in allowing that to happen.

For example, where a municipal officer, by-law enforcement officer feels that there is a rooming house, potentially, if by-laws are created in that area, that is in deplorable condition, or where they feel there is an unsafe condition or unhealthy condition, and they want to enter premises and they are refused, according to this legislation, they now have to go to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in order to get that overturned. That is a long and arduous process. By that time, as I have observed and many have, unscrupulous individuals who may be in a position to try and hide whatever evidence or what have you that would prove a violation of municipal by-laws would have plenty of time to avoid the law.

In any piece of legislation that requires for delay in allowing an inspector to enter and for the purposes of enforcing the legislation or the by-laws, is bad legislation. I think that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs should look at this more closely to allow for a much more quick process, but also fair, to ensure that inspectors have the power to enter premises without having to go to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, in order to get approval for their request. To do otherwise is to put them in a bad situation.

Here is a quick example, one that has been adopted through other provincial legislation, and that is a search warrant provision or an entrance provision. These provisions have been found to be constitutional when it comes to provincial offences or quasi-criminal offences which would include by-law offences. If we are going to provide them with the power, let's provide them with the clear power to do their job effectively. Let's not hamstring them or neuter them in a way that prevents them from doing their job.

I want to turn to Clause 513 of the bill. It deals with the liability of the municipalities. I am not sure if others have spoken on this issue yet, but I have grave concerns with Clauses 513 and 514 of this bill. The municipalities take on a lot of various functions that involve, on

[Page 3511]

a daily basis and even an hourly basis, situations where they are putting themselves in litigation-liable situations. I don't disagree that there are times in which municipalities must have some protection. But there are particularly some clauses in these Clauses 513 and 514 that I have a lot of concern with.

Clause 513(1) states, "A municipality or village, and its officers and employees, are not liable . . .", which means you would have no ability to sue them; not liable. Under Clause 513(1)(c), "failure to maintain a public place, that is subject to the direction, control and management of the municipality or village, in a reasonable state of repair, unless the municipality or village has actual or constructive notice of the state of disrepair and fails to take steps to remedy or otherwise deal with the state of disrepair within a reasonable time;".

It does not say where they should have knowledge, it says where they have actual constructive notice of a state of disrepair, and my concern with that is that through their own negligence, if a municipality decides to ignore provisions for upkeep of public lands, or public places, then potentially under Clause 513(1)(c) they can avoid liability and I have a lot of concern with that.

Clause 513(1)(d) states that a municipality is not liable if they fail, ". . . to enforce a by-law, unless the decision not to enforce the by-law is not made in good faith.". How do we define that, Mr. Speaker? Let's go back to the issue of development of housing and the lack of drainage for those houses. If the municipality has a municipal planning strategy that requires them to ensure their drainage is addressed in development of housing projects and if they have land-use by-laws that force developers to deal with the issue and then they decide that they do not have the money - maybe that is good faith - to enforce this, does that mean they are not liable? A lot of questions have to be answered around those particular clauses.

Clause 513(2) is right on point with my particular concern, "Where an overflow of water from a sewer, drain, ditch or watercourse is a consequence of snow, ice or rain, a municipality or village is not liable for a loss as a result of the overflow.". I am not a civil engineer or a sewage expert but I do believe that there should be some provisions, I would hope, for municipalities to know when there is an onslaught of snow, or rain, or ice, to be able to address the issue of how overflows will be addressed. Maybe in some cases they should not be liable, granted, but let a court decide, that is my suggestion, and to do otherwise is to leave citizens who have damage from these and insurance companies in a state where they have no recourse to a party that might potentially be liable for the problem.

Clause 514 goes on to say, "A municipality or village, and its officers and employees, are not liable for damages caused (a) directly or indirectly, by (i) the operation, maintenance, repair, breaking or malfunction of wastewater facilities, a stormwater system or a water system, or (ii) interference with the supply of water through a water system, unless the damages are shown to be caused by the negligence of the municipality or village or its officers

[Page 3512]

or employees;". Generally speaking, the rule would be have they been negligent and if they are negligent, then let's deal with it through the courts.

I will give you a classic example, Mr. Speaker. In Eastern Passage there is a pump station and I am not sure why, but maybe the developments in the recent past have forced the pump station to have overcapacity during heavy rainfall. What we have is a circumstance where twice in the last three years, the most recent one only a month ago, residents of the Shore Road area had sewer back up into their houses because the pump station could not carry the flow. Just the thought of having to deal with sewage flowing into your basement is sickening enough, but then to have to incur the costs, or if they are lucky enough to have insurance, their insurance company incurs the costs. But we all know full well the insurance companies will do one of two things: either increase their rates, or cut them off if this happens more often.

Where the municipality is responsible for such action, or for not dealing with it, whether it is not increasing the capacity of a pump station or not addressing the concerns or problems with the pump station, then they must be liable and they must address and pay for the damage that is caused by it. To ignore that, I think, and to allow legislation to prevent that ability to pay, is a big concern and one that I hope to address at the Law Amendments Committee.

It also goes on in Clause 514(b) that the municipality is not liable "by the discharge of sewage or water into premises from a municipal sewer unless the discharge was caused by the improper construction, or neglect in the maintenance of, the sewer;". Again, it goes back to the key issue, overflowing sewers are a nasty thing at the best of times and I do not think we should make the damage worse for those homeowners by eliminating any liability on the municipalities where they should be liable. This type of legislation is meant to put a scare into potential litigators but I think it should be for the courts to decide who is responsible for covering the costs.

I want to turn to Clause 526(4) which deals with the Halifax Regional Municipality, Part XXII, Mr. Speaker. Of course, my riding is in the Halifax Regional Municipality so it is quite relevant to my constituents. In particular, Clause 526(4) deals with the issue of community councils levying area rates.

I am not going to stand here and say that area rates should be imposed on residents but democracy at its base level, our local citizens in a local community deciding whether or not they want to pay a little more on their property tax to improve the services in their community. As there has been downloading in communities of services from the province to the municipality, so is there a need to ensure that those communities also have not only the power where they want to, where a majority decides that an area rate be imposed.

[Page 3513]

So I support this clause because it puts in the hands of the community councils and through them the residents of communities, the power to ensure that area rates may be levied where the majority of the people in the community believe they should be. That is democracy at work and I support it and this part of the legislation. It is up to those communities to decide whether they want to but I want to make note of a few issues that have arisen in my community that some people have suggested an area rate might help.

As funding is cut back to the school boards, someone suggested that maybe the area rates in certain communities could be used to address the shortfall, to improve programs where necessary. It is not the perfect answer because that can lead to inequality between the schools and between different communities. Ones with more money can put more money into area rates and I don't agree with it fully but in the short term where there is a void of leadership at the provincial and municipal level, then communities must take action and the area rates hopefully might allow them to do that.

In Colby Village there are specific issues that have been raised, lighting for parks, ballfields, recreation facilities for youth - as the number of the youth in that area increase there is more need for addressing their idle time and how they hopefully will find good use for it instead of bad. Fencing between public buildings including schools and private residences could be dealt with through area rates if people in the community thought that was appropriate. French immersion, something that I have had a lot of discussions with constituents about. Full French immersion from Grade Primary to Grade 12 is available in areas in the old City of Dartmouth and the old City of Halifax and is now starting to be put into parts of Halifax County. Given funding problems and where there has been a void of leadership, maybe communities can use area rates, if they so want, to ensure that the French immersion programs can be provided to children in their area.

Eastern Passage has certain concerns about their recreation facilities and I think I have already noted the lack of playgrounds, again, through a void of leadership in the municipalities to ensure the playgrounds are in place where there are major developments. Maybe area rates might be used if the community as a whole wants it. Also in the Eastern Passage Commons where we have many ball fields and soccer fields. Maybe there is an ability there where the community wants to ensure that there are facilities available through area rates.

Area rates, as I have already stated, are not a panacea and are not the perfect answer but if this provincial government is downloading more and more debt and costs onto municipalities and school boards and they do not have the ability to address the problems because of their own lack of will or lack of power, then maybe area rates are a short-term answer, if the community so wants.

Finally, I would like to conclude. I support the Bill No. 47 in principle but I do have particular concerns that I would like to see dealt with through the Law Amendments Committee. With regard to planning, mandatory powers must be imposed on the

[Page 3514]

municipalities to ensure that such things as drainage, erosion and other issues such as over-crowding are dealt with in a way that forces developers to do the right thing. If we do not provide that power to the municipalities and that responsibility, then it will permeate itself down and everyone in our province will suffer.

Under inspectors' powers there is a need for search warrants and clear entry powers that comply with the Constitution and the Charter of Rights. Other provincial legislation has it and it must be done here, too.

The liability clause that prevents liability in certain circumstances is too broad and must be dealt with in a way that ensures that where the municipalities have done things where their action or inaction have resulted in private homeowners and residents being affected, whether it be sewage overflow or flooding problems, then the municipality must pay the price.

[11:30 a.m.]

HRM area rates, as I have stated, Mr. Speaker, where the majority of people in that community vote for them, are something that should be allowed and this legislation will allow for it. I hope that there are some changes that should be made to this legislation and that the Law Amendments Committee will allow us to do it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak briefly on Bill No. 47. As many have indicated before me, it is a long and extensive bill, complicated, I guess, in some respects. It is a bill that eliminates or integrates countless pieces of legislation, many of them, I assume, outdated. It is certainly a bill that with certain amendments will be welcomed by municipalities across this province. Many individuals, including the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, staff and municipal units, have expended tremendous effort and initiative and cooperation to bring about this bill. I believe they certainly should be complimented for their contributions.

In the opening clauses of the bill, the bill talks about the purpose and, I guess, giving broad authority to councils, including authority to pass by-laws and the right to govern their municipalities, is clearly brought out as being part of the reason behind the bill. It is certainly time that municipal units were given the authority to govern. There are certainly some areas of this bill that will be welcomed by residents of municipalities and especially municipalities in Cape Breton. I will highlight just a few of those, if I may.

The disclosure of campaign funding, any contribution over $50 would need to be disclosed. Certainly that, in addition to the fact that campaigns that cost more than $10,000 must be audited, although I am not so certain that the $10,000 is an accurate figure, I guess I would have looked for something lower than that, but in municipalities such as Cape Breton,

[Page 3515]

I am sure the residents will welcome this. Municipal elections in Cape Breton, as you well know, tend to be full-blown political campaigns and especially now that the area that municipal councillors serve has been extended. The councillor, for example, representing the community in which I live, now represents an area that was covered by three councillors in the past. This creates the need for a much more aggressive campaigns. This addition to this bill, I am sure will be a welcome one.

Extending the term of a councillor from three to four years, I am sure, will have mixed reviews, but I expect would also be a welcome one; I guess, mixed reviews from the point of view that if they have a councillor whom they are not pleased with, the residents will be waiting that extra time, but certainly, again in Cape Breton where elections seem to be the order of the year, I think residents would be pleased to find out that that would be extended to four years, instead of having to have an election every three years.

The option of electing wardens-at-large, I am sure in some of the areas like Victoria County, is an advantage that hopefully many municipalities would want. The role and the participation and the responsibility of a warden is an important one and, I guess from that perspective, although election by peer in the past has been the policy, I am certain that many would like to see it an election-at-large.

A section of this bill that I am certain will be welcomed in Cape Breton is Clause 22 - and I believe that is the correct number - that deals with council meetings moving towards being open and transparent. Now this clause, of course, puts some limitations on the subjects that councils can deal with behind closed doors, but there are still a number of matters, property transactions, personnel matters, labour negotiations, public security, legal advice and a few other issues, that may be discussed behind closed doors. Hopefully this clause will lead to constituents having more confidence in their municipal councillors.

The Cape Breton Municipality, the regional council there created quite a deal of controversy last year debating their budget behind closed doors, in a closed meeting. It was quite an issue in Cape Breton because, ordinarily, the municipality's meetings are televised on a local cable station so people who can't physically attend the meeting at least know what is happening, and they do express concern when issues of importance, such as budget debates, are not open to them. From that point of view, I am sure this clause will be accepted. There are still some areas that are limited, and I guess some of those will have to evaluated as time goes on.

Another area of the bill that will hopefully be advantageous to municipalities is the section that prevents the government from downloading any initiatives that would affect municipal finances without giving adequate - and I think it is 12 months - notice. We know only too well how this government affected the finances of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality by such action, an action similar to what this clause speaks against.

[Page 3516]

Education costs. Even though the municipalities were assured by the Premier that they would not have costs downloaded on them without adequate notice, municipalities such as Cape Breton did in fact have education costs downloaded and, as a result of that measure, I am sure there will be serious implications for that municipality. We know that the Cape Breton Municipality has made an appeal many times to this government to assist them in this very area because after the determination of how much the municipality would contribute towards education, that determination was made well after the municipality had set their tax rate. The municipality still has concerns around this measure and to see this as part of the regulations, this bill will provide some financial stability to municipalities in terms of their relationship with the provincial government and the interactions thereof.

Under Clause 71(1), "The Council may, by by-law, exempt from taxation . . .", and they give a variety of areas that they may exempt, but the one that I would like to mention, and it is one that I did mention when we were talking about our own bill the other day, and that is that, "(b) property of a nonprofit community, charitable, fraternal, educational, recreational . . .", group, and there is a whole list of organizations, that, ". . . provides a service that might otherwise be a responsibility of the council;". Exempting groups like this from taxation is certainly one that I know many communities in Cape Breton will welcome. I am not certain, as with many clauses in this bill, whether it is strong enough because certainly it says it gives the discretion to the municipality to decide that.

As we know, in Cape Breton, in many communities, schools, vacated buildings and other establishments have been turned into community halls and used for a variety of purposes, all-important in those communities. So in many communities where we see that schools were closed, the school, for example, the old school in Millville has been turned into a community hall, as many of the schools that were closed, but we do know that some of these community halls that are offering a variety activities for the community and give the community an opportunity to do a variety of things, especially communities that are not blessed with cultural and recreational facilities, or are not within proximity of some of the cultural and recreational facilities, these community halls become very important.

We do know that one, in particular, that we have heard about, and that was the Point Edward Community Hall, where they have received their tax bill and, of course, they are quite upset about this because they have difficulty maintaining the hall because it is all done through fund-raising so, hopefully, this clause will bring the attention of our municipality to issues such as this and address that very concern that many communities have.

Some of my colleagues before me talked about the farmland tax exemption and, again, this is an important one in Cape Breton. The fact that the exemption will be increased each fiscal year the percentage of increase of the CPI, I am sure is welcomed. We have talked about this under Bill No. 13 as well. If Bill No. 13 is amended, then we will need to come back to this bill and make a like amendment in relationship to the Governor in Council

[Page 3517]

regulation around that bill. So this exemption, I am sure, to many of the farmers on Boularderie Island and indeed throughout Cape Breton will be welcome.

[11:45 a.m.]

Another issue that is important in Cape Breton is the whole business around Clause 69, which allows for an exemption from taxation for people whose income is below a particular level. It is one that I know is quite critical for many people in my constituency. As we can well imagine with the economy of Cape Breton and the level of income and unemployment, this area becomes really important.

Clause 74 is another area that we talked about last week, the base tax rate. This clause talks about prescribing a minimum tax per dwelling and the minimum tax may be set at different levels for different areas of the municipality. I think I mentioned as well last week that this is another issue that people have brought to my attention at community meetings.

Apparently, in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the base rate is $400 and this is cause for concern for people who have different types of dwellings in different parts of the municipality. I gave the example last week of a gentleman, who talked to me about this issue, whose tax rate prior to this, based on the assessment of the property, was much lower. He questioned at that time whether or not it was legal for the municipality to set a tax rate at such a high level and one that would certainly exceed the assessment of his particular recreational property. I expect we will hear some concerns around that, especially when we know that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has set $400 presently as their base rate.

One of the last areas that I will comment on, because it certainly affects a lot of people who live throughout this province, is Clause 174 that talks about the whole use of pesticides. The councils, according to this, may make by-laws to regulate, but not to prohibit the use of such chemicals which some claim may cause medical problems. Of course, we know that this clause in the bill does not apply to the agricultural or forestry areas but it does apply to residential areas.

Mr. Speaker, I would to express my concern about this clause of the bill, because it does relate very directly to many people in this province, in fact to all of us in this province. It is an issue that relates to health, and this clause dealing with the use of pesticides for cosmetic and domestic reasons, I believe should be strengthened. The pesticide use, and I know the Leader of the Third Party talked about pesticides and herbicides, and I guess that is something that will have to be explored. We do know that pesticide use is a genuine health issue. We know that pesticides are poisonous and there is a concern. I really think that a bill brought in by our Party, I think it was Bill No. 1, deals with this very issue.

[Page 3518]

I know many of my colleagues have spoken on this issue, but I do hope that when we look at amendments in this bill that we may look at how we can show our concern for the health and safety of people in communities, and by doing that strengthen this bill so that people who do have and may have health concerns around the issue of pesticides are protected as well. Those are a very few of the many sections of this bill that I will comment on today, many of those sections, as many others I am sure, impact very directly in the communities that I represent, and I want to thank many of our other caucus members who have as well drawn out areas of this bill that we should be concerned about, and that we should look at.

In closing, I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity of speaking on this bill, and I just have one other comment to make before I sit down. I guess we should have brought in a resolution today around this issue, but with all the concern around resolutions, we didn't do it. I would like to note that 14 years ago today, John Holm was elected as the member for Sackville-Cobequid. (Applause)I am glad that we are extending our congratulations to him. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like to confirm what the previous speaker said, that John Holm was elected on November 6, 1984. The reason that I know that is because I was elected also on that date; also, the honourable member for Kings North was elected. (Interruptions) Dartmouth East also. There were numerous of us who were here, and I just can't sit here and let that go. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: You are all congratulated.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise today to make a few comments on Bill No. 47, the Municipal Government Act. I must say, I was a bit overwhelmed upon receiving it, its depth, length. I guess that would attribute to the importance and the ramifications of this bill. I feel obligated to comment though, jokingly I suppose, of what percentage of Nova Scotia forests were clear-cut to provide the material for this bill, but in saying that, I would say that I must comment and emphasize the importance of this legislation. Though it is very complex, and leaving no doubt that all Nova Scotians will be impacted by it.

It is my, and my caucus colleagues', intention to vote to support this bill to go on to the Law Amendments Committee for some considerations in that process. Mr. Speaker, if I could, I would like to identify a concern that the leeway that councils can exercise to meet in private without calling it an in camera session. The point that I am attempting to highlight is that councils, in fact, necessarily do not have to give notice or change of location of their meetings. I raise concern with that provision. I am compelled to ask, should it remain in the bill?

[Page 3519]

Another concern that I wish to make mention of is that I am curious why there is not some limitation on monies for persons running for office, on how much they can spend. All other potential candidates, whether it be provincial or federal, have recognized limitations. I feel strongly that equal opportunity and fairness should be afforded to all persons seeking election.

Another provision that I feel needs to be mentioned, that this bill makes it very clear who has the right to vote. It does not say anything that an individual has to be a Canadian citizen to vote in the municipal elections. To vote provincially, you don't have to be one as well; all that is required is that a voter be a British subject. What this provision does, in fact, is bring the Municipal Government Bill in line with the federal requirement for voting. What this will do is that the municipalities will be able to use the common voters list that is prepared and maintained by the federal government. So municipalities can use that federal list. Good for them.

I feel very strongly that this bill is reflective of the front-line level of government that is at the municipal level. The work across this province that our councillors perform should be commended. With amendments to this bill, through the Law Amendments Committee process, I feel very strongly that we will be aiding and assisting and providing the tools for municipal units to provide grass-roots leadership to their municipalities. I do not have the experience that a lot of members in this House have with municipal government, but I feel it very important as a legislator to assist municipal units, to assist municipal government in performing their responsibilities. Not only will this bill aid municipal units but, more importantly, it will make them accountable to some degree and that is very important. Making all levels of government accountable should be a possible goal for all of us to reach for.

Again, Mr. Speaker, in principle I support the bill but do have some reservations. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 47, the Municipal Government Act, will provide municipalities with better tools to do their jobs. The Municipal Government Bill is the product of the work of many people over the past four years. I would like to thank the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the Legislative Review Committee, and all those who have made submissions during the two rounds of consultations. I also want to recognize the efforts of former Ministers of Housing and Municipal Affairs, Guy Brown, Allister Surrette, James Smith, and, in particular, Sandra Jolly who devoted a lot of her time consulting with the municipal units across Nova Scotia on this piece of legislation that is before the House today. I also would like to thank all the honourable members who have participated during the second reading of this bill. Some good points were made.

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[12:00 p.m.]

Based on the excellent comments we have received since the introduction of Bill No. 47, our department is considering a number of amendments, including changes to the provisions on pesticides. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, we will be certainly providing these amendments to the Committee on Law Amendments before they meet.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . on Monday?

MR. GAUDET: The honourable member across the floor is asking if we will have those amendments ready by Monday. I can say to all members of the House, we certainly will have those amendments ready before the Law Amendments Committee does meet and I certainly will provide more information on this issue and others to the Law Amendments Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I now move Bill No. 47 be read for a second time. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 47. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government business for the day. By agreement, on Monday, we will moving into Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will be dealing with Bill No. 13, Financial Measures (1998) Act. I move that the House do now rise and we will sit on Monday between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 12:03 p.m.]