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Survey - Enhancing HRM’s ability to deliver programs and services

The purpose of this consultation is to ask residents for input on what they think of the municipality having natural person powers, possible ways NPPs could be used, and the restrictions that might be beneficial to include.


a) Impact on individuals

Under the current HRM Charter, the Municipality may not provide funding or grants to private individuals except in very specific circumstances (for example, grants to upgrade registered heritage properties). These restrictions prevent the municipality from supporting a wide range of services that residents sometimes request. With NPPs, the municipality could expand its service delivery such as giving grants to private properties for renovation or maintenance; and directly running programs to support individuals that are not specifically outlined in the Charter, such as snow clearing for seniors (this program is currently run through the YWCA, not HRM) and a cat catch-and-release program (currently run by the SPCA, not HRM). Canadian municipalities with NPPs have undertaken innovative programs that can directly support individuals, from smaller initiatives like grants for energy efficiency upgrades to properties or scholarship funds for students, to major undertakings like acting as a mortgage lender to residents who may not usually qualify but can benefit from the municipality’s strong credit rating.

b) Impact on non-profits

Currently, the municipality’s ability to support non-profit organizations is limited to certain types of non-profits. Having NPPs would remove this restriction and allow the municipality to consider supporting or partnering with non-profits more broadly. This could take different forms such as direct grants, partnerships with joint ownership of assets, or providing social programs and services directly.

c) Impact on borrowing and debt

NPPs relate to a number of activities generally associated with the private sector: buying and selling property, entering into contracts and mortgages, purchasing shares, issuing debt, and forming corporations. The municipality's ability to do these things now is strictly limited under the HRM Charter. For example, the municipality needs approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs for any multi-year expenditure over $500,000. HRM’s borrowing methods are restricted to debentures issued by the Province, and it cannot access other debt mechanisms such as a line of credit. NPPs would remove these restrictions and allow the municipality to raise money in different ways.

Do you agree with expanding the municipality's ability to borrow money or commit to multi-year expenditures, using different tools without provincial oversight?

d) Restrictions

Municipalities in eight provinces and territories have natural person powers. However in each case NPPs are accompanied by some restrictions. These are different in every province, but generally include limitations on giving grants to the private sector, forming corporations, limiting areas where municipal funds may be spent, and declaring bankruptcy. For examples of restrictions in place across Canada, please see the policy rationale attached to the Council report found here: http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/161108ca1415.pdf

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