On Thursday, March 8, 2018 the Province of Nova Scotia introduced an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998, the Municipal Government Act Respecting Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
If enacted, this Act will have a profound negative impact on all Nova Scotia municipalities. Section 51B (2) states that "Cape Breton Regional Municipality may sell or lease to any person eligible municipal property at a price less than market value."
In addition, Section 71BA (2) permits the following – “Notwithstanding any enactment, where the council of Cape Breton Regional Municipality considers it necessary or advisable, the Municipality may enter into a taxation agreement with the owner of an eligible industrial property respecting the taxes payable to the Municipality by the owner”.
The current Municipal Governance Act was designed to provide a level playing field, avoiding investment decisions based on which Nova Scotia municipality provides the greatest amount of government incentives. The proposed Act will have the opposite effect. While we feel strongly that this Act is not in the interests of Nova Scotia Municipalities, we believe that any amendments must apply equally to all Municipalities.
An Emergency Special Council meeting was held and at the meeting a unanimous motion was passed to write Minister Mombourquette and ask him to provide the Municipality of the District of Guysborough with all those same rights and privileges as has been proposed to provide CBRM through an amendment of Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998, the Municipal Government Act.
Warden Pitts stated that "Current proposed major projects in our Municipality are based on sound business cases, and not on direct or indirect subsidies from Government, and it’s unfortunate now that we have to go down this road just to keep a level playing field for potential future projects."
On March 26th a meeting of the Law Amendments Committee was held in the Legislature and groups spoke to the proposed changes to the legislation. Representatives from MODG, Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Antigonish, Municipality of the County of Antigonish and Strait Area Mayors and Wardens all were represented to oppose the changes and the negative impacts it will have on our area.
Warden Pitts' speech to the Committee is here.
The Bill has gone through second reading and a decision has not yet been made by Government as to whether the proposed changes will be adopted to allow CBRM special charter privileges.