ANOTHER DISCUSSION IN THE COMMUNITY OF MOUNT UNIACKE

ANOTHER “DISCUSSION” IN THE COMMUNITY ABOUT IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT WE ALL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HAS BEEN CIRCULATING. THE CORRECT INFORMATION IS ALREADY OUT THERE AND WAS SHARED WITH THE COMMUNITY OVER A YEAR AGO, BUT PEOPLE HAVE TO MAKE THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE. THE UPDATE ON THE “NEW” POOL DESTINED FOR ELMSDALE HAS SPARKED A DEBATE AND CREATED MIS-INFORMATION AND QUESTIONS. TO UNDERSTAND AND RECEIVE COMPLETE TRUE INFORMATION ON WHAT THE FEDERAL GAS TAX REBATE FUNDING IS FOR AND WHERE IT COMES FROM, GO TO http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/gtf-fte-eng.html

For those readers without computer access: quoted from Federal Government web site: “The federal GTF provides $2 billion annually, and is legislated as a permanent source of federal infrastructure funding for municipalities. As announced in Economic Action Plan 2013, the renewed federal GTF is being indexed at two per cent per year, to be applied in $100 million increments, which means that it will grow by $1.8 billion over the next decade. Funding is provided up front, twice-a-year, to provinces and territories, who in turn flow this funding to their municipalities to support local infrastructure priorities. Municipalities can pool, bank and borrow against this funding, providing significant financial flexibility.
Communities are able to use the renewed GTF towards a wide range of projects. Under the renewed GTF, allocations to provinces and territories over the first five years of the NBCP (2014-2019) are based on Census 2011 data.”

UNDERSTANDING THE FEDERAL GAS TAX REBATE
Excerpt from April 2016 edition of the Uniacke Newsletter:
Letter to the Editor: The April 13, 2016 PUBLIC MEETING to introduce the Federal Gas Tax Fund, was very informative and interesting, but the attendance was less than one would expect for such an important function that will provide financial benefits for our social economy.
Councilor Bland provided an overview of the renewed Federal Gas Tax Fund and the guidelines for completion of a community wish list.
An extract from the written presentation provided at the meeting states, “TO ALL MOUNT UNIACKE RESIDENTS / BUSINESS OWNERS. Every community has a wish list for enhancements to their “living / working space” and we are asking Mount Uniacke’s residents for input on this wish list.”

The attendance and discussions with our Municipal MLA and Municipal Warden were interesting and informative. Many interesting recommendations were presented and discussed by attendees. The deposit box for written suggestions appeared to have attracted many written suggestions.
We must encourage residents and business owners from all four communities within Mount Uniacke to attend the next public meeting and to bring forth their desires on how this Federal Gas Tax Fund will be spent within their individual community. It is very important to have a committee comprised of residential / business taxpayers from all four residential communities to finalize the wish list. Ken Isles

Also from May 2016 edition of Uniacke Newsletter:
New Building Canada Plan – What is it? – As part of the New Building Canada Plan, the renewed Federal Gas Tax fund (GTF) provides predictable, long-term, stable funding for Canadian municipalities to help them build and revitalize their local public infrastructure while creating jobs and long term prosperity.
Why is it important? – Each year, the federal GTF assists municipalities by providing funding for local infrastructure projects. From coast to coast to coast, the federal GTF is making a difference in all communities across Canada. Every year, municipalities benefit from the financial support and flexibility of the Federal GTF. To date, $13 billion has been invested in municipalities through the Federal Gas Tax Fund, with close to $22 billion to flow over the next 10 years. Municipalities now have even more ways in which they can put their GTF funding to work in their communities.
March 23/16 – Municipality of East Hants Council Meeting: On the motion of Councilors Roulston and John A. MacDonald: “Moved that Council allocate approximately $682,000 of unallocated gas tax funds using a 75% / 12.5% / 12.5% split, resulting in approximately $511,000 to the Aquatics Centre and $85,000 to each of the Mount Uniacke and rural tax gas reserves.” Twelve (12) voting in favour
On the motion of Councilors Roulston and Hebb: “Moved that any decisions with regard to the 25% allocation of the gas tax money be put off until the right groups, the Mount Uniacke groups and rural groups, can meet and come up with some decisions on how to use the gas tax money.” Twelve (12) voting in favour.

Two reserve funds will be set up under the Gas Tax Reserve Fund to receive 12.5% of the Annual Gas Tax allocation to help fund the development of recreation / tourism assets in Mount Uniacke (12.5%) and the Rural districts (12.5%)

TO ALL MOUNT UNIACKE RESIDENTS / BUSINESS OWNERS
Every community has a wish list for enhancements to their “living / working space” and we are asking Mount Uniacke’s residents for input on this wish list.
If you read up on the Federal Gas Tax Refund you will understand better how the “rebate” to Nova Scotia works and eventually to the Nova Scotia municipalities and onto the individual areas of each municipality:
1. Disaster Mitigation Infrastructure
2. Solid Waste Management Infrastructure
3. Brownfield Redevelopment Infrastructure
4. Cultural Infrastructure
5. Sports Infrastructure
6. Connectivity and Broadband Infrastructure
7. Local Road Infrastructure
8. Short-line Rail Infrastructure
9. Short Sea Shipping Infrastructure
10. Tourism Infrastructure
11. Regional and Local Airport Infrastructure

MOUNT UNIACKE, this is our opportunity to make our “wish list” for long-awaited recreational, tourism and other infrastructure projects come alive and we ask for community input from our young residents to our older residents so everyone can join in and share their desires to make Mount Uniacke / Lakelands a more “active” community.
One example of what the Federal Gas Tax refund can do for our community in the way of recreation is upcoming installation of the Mount Uniacke Skateboard Park planned for completion the summer of 2016. This facility is being installed / paid for by excess Federal Gas Tax funding from the previous Federal Gas Tax refund year.
Sidewalks is another possibility for the use of this funding as outlined by the Federal Government.
If you missed the first meeting held in Mount Uniacke to discuss what our community needs and wants, there will be other meetings organized and held very soon and we urge you to come out and help us invest this gas tax funding in the positive growth of the structure of the community we call home.

The following is a list of some of the residents’ suggestions dropped in the box after the meeting and discussed during the meeting:
**speed signs in residential area and on Highway 1 / sidewalks / bicycle lanes through the core area from Post Office to West Lake Rd
**a fully registered community group such as “Uniacke district Ratepayers Association” comprised of one or two directors from each of the following sub-districts: Lakelands, Mount Uniacke, South Uniacke, East Uniacke. The group operates under a specific constitution. We must have a fully-registered community ratepayers society.
**Could money be made available to maintain and upgrade and expand Bell Park? Bell Park is used year round
**Unsightly litter and signage
**Buddy Bench
**Cultural Infrastructure – create and foster a culture of inclusion and kindness
**Sidewalks – ten-year plan – active transportation
**Green energy – wind, water or solar
**Charging station for electric cars
**Union Church repairs / maintenance
**Uniacke Estate trails, archaeology
**Fix roads **Recycle facility
**What about wastewater districts in particular on lakes? Ties in with the lakeshore zoning with environmental impacts ie original cottages with non-approved septics now converted into year-round homes
**Sidewalks in core OK idea but street lights required. Full understanding of on-going cost to be given prior to approval
**Full community commitment if an area tax rate is required for whatever is decided
**Change name of meeting to be “Uniacke and area” rather than Mount Uniacke
**Priorities: 1. Sidewalk 2. Trail system with Uniacke House 3. Upgrade Municipal land within hand for recreational use ie swimming area, picnic, etc.
**I would like to have a place for us to dispose of renovation projects. Example: shingles, drywall, wood, etc. I find myself and a lot of other people find, It is too far to drive out to Georgefield
**Ball complex at Legion – repairs/upgrades
**Playground facility near ball diamonds at Legion -have safety netting overhead of playground with safety netting on side of playground facing ball diamonds
**Off-leash fenced-in dog park – either near the ball diamonds at Legion or at the side of old MacKenzie field in East Uniacke
**Clean up entrance to Mount Uniacke by Irving – it’s derelict
**clean up telephone poles all along Hwy 1
**sidewalks in business park
**sidewalk on Hwy 1 near school
End of list
There are new and more improved suggestions coming out which would benefit the ENTIRE community. It’s a MUST that the entire community should benefit from OUR portion of the FEDERAL GAS TAX REBATE PROGRAM since the rebate is available from money we are ALL spending on gas for our vehicles, generators, and anything else we are putting into the tax portion of our gas purchases. But, nobody will know what you want if you don’t express your wishes.

The following is copied from the MEH web site. It refers directly to the new pool which seems to have created a lot of community discussion.
QUOTE:
BACKGROUND – The Aquatic Center
The Municipality makes every effort to ensure residents understand our decision-making process when developing and implementing major projects. See below a detailed backgrounder in relation to the new Aquatic Center. If you have any further questions, please contact the Communications Department.

Why is a new pool being built?
The existing pool in Milford is reaching the end of its useful life. Major electrical and mechanical components are failing and the tank itself has significant challenges that would not make good use of taxpayer money to try to repair. The pool is situated on a fairly large tract of land but the land has geotechnical challenges that prevented the site from being considered for re-development. Any option for development on the site would have required removal of the existing facility which would have meant loss of pool service for two to three years. In addition, a pool located on a site with an onsite well is a risky situation. The pool is one of the best-used facilities in East Hants. Support from the public for a new facility has been demonstrated in various studies and reports over the last number of years and Councilors are always a good gauge of the support of their public for such a development. The support was confirmed in the significant participation in the public survey done to seek input into desired components for a new pool. Over 900 submissions were obtained.
Why is the new aquatics facility being built in Elmsdale?
• Elmsdale is the community closest to the largest population in East Hants as well as the most central spot for East Hants residents who live in the rural areas. All residents of East Hants pay for the operation of the facility and Council was concerned with making it as accessible as possible to the greatest number of residents. The business plan for the operations involves maximizing revenue potential from lessons and other programming. This is best achieved by locating the facility nearest the greatest population density. The pool also relies on staff coming from the high school age population. In a community the size of East Hants, much effort goes into training and maintaining a pool of young talent. The best opportunity to source such talent is in the more densely populated area of East Hants.

Why was a leased site considered?
• Council, by majority decision, wanted the new aquatic center sited somewhere on the #214 to be conveniently available to a majority of taxpayers who span the entire Municipality. Not many properties are available for consideration. Land in the Municipal Business Park was considered, and initially dismissed, due to cost of land, size of available parcels and proximity for the walking public. The site at the Superstore was explored and, based on initial negotiations, was deemed to be the best financial decision for the taxpayer. As can be appreciated, the details of the negotiations with Choice Properties is confidential. Part of the consideration was whether the siting of the center on that land could be leveraged to attract other businesses to East Hants. As time went on, it was determined that the cost of putting piped and transportation infrastructure into the site was going to be very high. Council received an additional report from staff and decided to invest in land, while minimizing the cost of infrastructure, which was more readily available next to the Lloyd E. Matheson Center. In terms of operations, it was also noted that efficiencies could be realized by having a site adjoining an existing site that is already maintained by the Municipality.

How much was spent to evaluate the Choice Properties site?
• The cost associated with the negotiations on the Choice site were limited to some legal advice, some minor costs for geotechnical work (approximately $8,000) and staff time.

What about pool design costs?
• Only conceptual design, which was very minimal to this point (under $25,000). This is a normal first step in any such project. Until the site was confirmed, the design work could not begin. The announcement of the site on Choice Properties had indicated that the Municipality was “negotiating”. It did not confirm the site as a certainty. The site beside the Lloyd E. Matheson Center has now been confirmed as the site and work towards a design will begin.

What about the budget?
• Based on very preliminary conceptual design, the cost of the center was estimated in the $17M range. Regrettably, in today’s market, that amount only provides for a basic functional facility that would include two pools, a hot tub and a two story slide. Other components of interest to the public (lazy river, diving board etc) are probably not achievable in a 17M budget. Early on the Municipality realized the US/Canadian exchange was likely to have significant impact on the price of certain components and the price of $17M was looking quite tight. Council was not pleased to be considering additional funding for the pool and reluctantly increased the budget to $19 million but with the provision that the other levels of government provide 2/3 of the funding.

What about a splash pad?
• As noted above, the center is not yet designed. The final product will depend on whether funding is made available by higher levels of government. The conceptual design called for a structure that would allow for a splash pad down the road but not likely in the first phase of the build. The estimated cost for a splash pad is $500,000.

How will it be paid for?
• The original business plan assumed that the aquatic center would be paid for with gas tax funds but that other levels of government would be asked to provide some support. With an increase in budget to 19M the Council made it contingent on 2/3 funding from the federal and provincial levels of government. If that outside funding is not achieved, Council will need to consider the budget again and determine what the original budget can provide. If the senior levels of government kick in 2/3 it would not be possible to also use gas tax money toward the center as this kind of “stacking” of funding is not permitted. The Municipal portion of the funding would be borrowed and the debt charges paid by the taxpayers.

Operating Costs
• Operating costs of pools are very much impacted by how the pool is designed and built. The municipality will be looking for a design that is operationally efficient. Clearly, in some cases, this means putting more money in up front to reduce operational costs thereafter. These are decisions that drive the capital budget. All taxpayers of East Hants will pay the operating costs of the new aquatic center. Revenue generation will be maximized by the types of programming chosen to run in the pool.
END OF QUOTE

Having quoted all of the above, Mount Uniacke, as you can see, will be helping to pay for the East Hants pool. Some of the Federal gas tax rebate funding is being put into this recreational facility with the balance coming from Municipal taxes.
Having said that, it has been indicated by some residents of Mount Uniacke that perhaps we could have our public lake accesses returned to an OPEN DOOR for all our residents and visitors to use equally? With Federal Gas Tax Funding we could have the lake accesses that were evident in years gone by: ie Pentz Lake, Lewis Lake (several different locations), Pigott Lake, Cockscomb Lake (one of the nicest natural sand beaches on a lake in our community), Lily Lake, West Lake (lost to Halifax Municipality), Norman Lake, etc. returned to our community’s residents for public swimming, fishing, boating, etc. Gas Tax Funding could come in handy to clean up the shorelines and enable people to enjoy the lakes. No taxes would be involved in “opening up our local lakes for the enjoyment of all residents”, just as they were in years gone by. Several years ago the Municipality made presentations to our residents regarding the “public land with lake access” that was given to our community as per public lake access by-laws but it was not acted upon / requested by our community and/or the municipality and it has become silent once again. Perhaps it’s time to re-open these allowable public access locations and put our lakes to open use rather than remain closed to the majority of our residents and visitors????
Just a few thoughts as to the fairest way to “share” the Federal Gas Tax Rebate that is available for ALL residents to enjoy and to encourage people to make valid suggestions that would enhance the Mount Uniacke areas for EVERYONE to enjoy and that we DO NOT have to pay for through countless upcoming years!