Review of September 8, 2021 Public Council Meeting

Council of the Municipality of Cumberland met via zoom for a Public Council Meeting on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. The meeting opened with a territorial acknowledgement.

A public hearing was held regarding an amendment to the land use by-law pertaining to a rezoning request for 556 Valley Road in Westchester. Frist reading of this amendment was July 14, 2021. Second reading is scheduled for September 22, 2021.

Council reviewed a staff analysis of the municipality’s governance structure. The report had been requested by council earlier this year and had been among the initial priorities that council had established for the incoming CAO, supporting council’s goal of streamlining governance. Council agreed to reduce the number of regular monthly council meetings from two to one along with one regular monthly meeting of committee of the whole. With the change to a regular monthly committee of the whole, council also agreed to eliminate the capital investment plan, by-law and policy review, and divestiture of surplus properties committees as the business formerly transacted at these committees will now be addressed at committee of the whole. Finally, council agreed to significantly reduce appointments, as official representatives of the Municipality of Cumberland, to outside organizations. Most of the remaining standing committees of council are either now mandated by legislation or in respect of a community partnership. While council members will be free to be part of outside organizations, they will not be appointed as an official representatives by council.

During the term of the previous council, the Municipality of Cumberland and the Town of Oxford entered into a policing review. The results of the review included the suggestion of reducing the number of RCMP members by three officers, one being replaced by a civilian court liaison officer. The transition to the court liaison officer has now been completed. The Nova Scotia Department of Justice had requested that the present council approve the implementation of the balance of the review which would have meant the reduction of two RCMP members and the closure of the Pugwash detachment. Council declined to approve the further reduction of two RCMP members due to service level concerns heard from residents. Council also requested that the RCMP revert to the former detachment policing model from the current district policing model so that officers would, once again, be assigned to specific communities rather that the district as a whole. 

First reading was given to an amendment to the land use by-law pertaining to a rezoning request for 1072 Lynn Rd., Southampton. A public hearing on this topic is scheduled for October 6, 2021.

At the July 14, 2021, meeting, staff presented council with two suggested updates to the tax reduction and exemption policy. This policy allows council to provide a tax reduction from commercial to residential for all or part of the tax payable with respect to any non-profit community, charitable, fraternal, education, religious, cultural if sporting organization. The changes include an effective date of April 1, 2021, and clarification that the exemptions also apply to community area rates in addition to the general tax rate. Council approved the amended tax exemption and reduction policy.

Council approved an update to the personnel policy, adding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a recognized holiday. Council also formally approved the addition of Nova Scotia Heritage Day.

Due to changes in the Municipal Government Act (MGA) concerning a municipality’s ability to spend on parks and recreation, council made seven resolutions to move forward the Parrsboro playgrounds and park project. Resolutions covered the topics of
• accepting the proposal of Cobequid Trail Consulting Ltd., in response to RFP-MCC-2106 to design and build a natural playground and a traditional playground on municipal land at a pre-tax cost of no more than $432,415
• authorizing the CAO to execute funding documentation in support of the project
• a council commitment of $50,000 in the 2022/23 capital budget
• the appointment by the CAO of a playground project manager
• an advisory committee to support the playground project manager
• the appointment by the CAO of a park project manager
• an advisory committee to support the park project manager

Council awarded RFP-MCC-2105, supply of one backhoe, to Maritime Case at a value of $179,106 funded partially by the Parrsboro area rate long term debt ($90,000) and partially from general reserves ($89,106).

In 2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Municipality of Cumberland and Parrsboro Creative to create an art bank collection. Council approved $995 for the purchase of three framed limited-edition prints.

Council approved receiving funds from the Dr.& Mrs. H.E. Christie Community Foundation to be dispersed as a grant to the Fundy Winds Organization. This will enable the Dr.& Mrs. H.E. Christie Community Foundation to receive an official donation receipt according to CRA guidelines.

At the June 16, 2021, council meeting two properties were identified as surplus. The sizes of the lots are of insufficient size to be of reasonable use as stand alone properties, and as such, council has directed staff to offer the two properties to the abutting landowners for a cost not less than the migration and legal fees of the sale. One of these properties, 115 McGee St., Springhill, has had an offer accepted by an abutting landowner. Council approved the sale of 115 McGee St., Springhill, for $1,500 plus migration and legal fees.

Staff have been requested to provide information on erecting an additional flagpole and revising the flag policy to include flying the Mi’kmaq flag year-round.

Council determined a collective desire for signage to educate motorists of Nova Scotia’s “Slow Down, Move Over” law. Council has requested correspondence be sent to the province requesting appropriate signage.

The council meeting concluded with two special declarations. Mayor Scott declared the week of September 6 – 10, 2021 as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Week. The second declaration was to make the year 2022, the Year of the Garden in the Municipality of Cumberland.

The next public council meeting will be September 22, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. A committee of the whole meeting will be held September 15, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. Formal minutes of the September 8th meeting will be available within 24 hours of the meeting. A Facebook live recording is available on the municipal Facebook page.