Municipal leaders have issues
Biosolids disposal, infrastructure costs and reinstating the Nova Scotia-to-Maine ferry are addressed in resolutions the province’s municipal leaders plan to consider in Halifax next month.
Delegates at the annual conference of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities also intend to cover a proposal about public transit funding, a recent report from the union’s resolutions committee says.
Municipalities are responsible for operational costs for public transportation in this province, it says.
The resolution, put forward by Halifax Regional Municipality, says more than $105 million is needed annually to run Nova Scotia’s municipal transit systems.
It says the union and provincial government should discuss “the possibility of increased, sustainable (and) predictable operating funding on an annual basis for public transit.”
The resolution says the organization should urge the province to work with municipalities “to develop a public transit strategy” for Nova Scotia.
In April, a national survey released by the Canadian Urban Transit Association showed the value of transit infrastructure plans for the 2012-16 period is $53.5 billion.
“Thanks to strong commitments by all (levels) of government, $40 billion can be drawn from existing funding streams. The remaining $13.5 billion will have to come from new or additional sources,” the union’s website says.
Halifax-area Coun. Peter Lund (Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets), a member of the resolutions committee, said Saturday it was his understanding the province has been working on a public transportation strategy for awhile.
“In our opinion, we need to get the (provincial government) on board — particularly now with Acadian Lines closing up shop — to really step forward to help contribute and maintain public transport,” said Lund. “We need to put pressure on the province.”
Regarding biosolids disposal, Lund said there’s been a problem with numerous Nova Scotia property owners “stockpiling” fertilizer that uses treated domestic sewage. The resolution recommends the province tighten up rules for biosolids management, including disposal, and create regulations “that include provisions for penalties” on users not complying.
The application of biosolids on agricultural land has been controversial in Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions. Lund said the resolution includes a concern about local water tables affected by shipments of the material being stocked.
“People were stockpiling it and then you were getting runoff and it was getting into streams and rivers, and there was a concern whether or not it was going to impact groundwater supplies,” he told The Chronicle Herald.
With respect to infrastructure costs, a resolution from the Halifax region says this province has “a significant amount of infrastructure that is aging and in need of replacement or repair,” or requires regular maintenance.
It says the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities should write the Dexter government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities requesting that a “new, long-term infrastructure plan address new and existing” needs of Nova Scotia’s municipalities.
Regarding the defunct ferry service out of Yarmouth, “the economy in southern Nova Scotia continues to encounter significant difficulty,” a resolution from that district says.
It says the union should approach the province about “the immediate reinstatement” of the service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor. The last sailing for the Cat ferry was in 2010 after more than a decade of cross-border service.
There are 55 municipalities in the province. The union’s convention is set for Sept. 18 to 21.
According to the agenda, issues to be addressed include increasing women’s participation in municipal government elections and persuading more citizens to take an active role in community decision-making.
Municipal and school board elections in Nova Scotia take place Oct. 20.