March has been a busy month-- so much so that I think the term "March Madness" could better describe municipal politics than college basketball. We have had budget deliberations, an introduction to our draft MPS/LUB (Municipal Planning Strategy/Land Use By-Law), and a Strategic Planning workshop on top of our regular Council meetings and commitments. My brain is full.
Balance also seems be a theme this month. In terms of our budget, we must make it balanced in terms of dollars but also in terms of being fair and reflective of Council's priorities, on which we sometimes have differing opinions. How do we decide where best to allocate these scarce dollar amounts? What are the best investments for the future taxpayers as well as the taxpayers of today?
Another balancing act has come up in our planning documents, and the most controversial so far has been the protection of agricultural land. The discussion has been whether we limit the use of land in agricultural zones to strictly agriculture-- meaning to restrict subdivision of land, building non-farm dwellings, etc., in many areas of the County. I believe in order to support our farmers of today and of tomorrow, we have to protect this land. It is our responsibility to be stewards of our County's future, and one of the most effective tools we have to do this is by creating rules that protect our productive land, and our land with the potential to be farmed. Farmers are thriving. Young farmers are trying to make a go of it. We have to set an example for future Councils and keep these documents designed to protect our current and future productive capacity. In balancing private interests against the future of our County's agriculture industry, for me the balance will always fall toward long-term planning.
Finally, work-life balance is another important balance to be maintained. I'm happy to inform you that with the coming of spring, my little outdoorsman and I have spent lots of time starting seeds, playing in chilly puddles, and pruning our grapevines. Without this balance, I'd hardly be prepared to try and find it in other avenues of my work.
The engagement process for the New Municipal Complex has been released!
Our current Municipal offices on Cornwallis Street in Kentville have been sold and we are looking for a new place to meet and do business. Council has determined that the previous consultation process was incomplete, so to ensure proper consultation we have decided to restart the process. We would like to hear your thoughts and recommendations regarding location criteria and various elements of the building.
The first consultation will be held on March 30th at 6:30pm at the Waterville Fire Hall. In aligning with the Municipality’s Community Engagement Strategy, passed August 2nd, 2016, the consultation will be conducted using a facilitated World Café style, which will allow large group dialogue as well as small group discussion in a café setting.
For those who are unable to attend the consultation, our online engagement tool, PlaceSpeak, will be made available starting at 9:00am March 21 st until 4:00pm March 31st to receive feedback. To join the conversation click the PlaceSpeak icon on our website at: www.countyofkings.ca, or you can find it at the top of this page! Each of the 3 consultation stages will provide opportunities for the public and staff to provide feedback. Public input will also be gathered online at PlaceSpeak the days before and after each consultation to ensure all who wish to provide feedback have the opportunity to join the conversation.
With help from Kings County, i-Valley has obtained a powerful tool from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) that could accelerate the delivery of broadband service to your home or business. They have asked Councillors to share the following information:
"The Internet Performance Test (IPT) -- “Heat Map” -- is a neutral measurement of actual Internet speed. It gives performance data which are not owned by Internet service providers. It collects 100 data parameters specific to the quality of your Internet connection.
The information will be used to provide evidence-based mapping for provincial and federal funding and planning agencies. There are millions of dollars recently targeted for communities like ours.
Please do this:
In a few moments you will be shown your upload and download speeds. It’s that simple. Two short steps will help bring better, faster Internet service to your location. The Heat Map runs with browsers such as Firefox, Edge (Internet Explorer), and Chrome, and will run on your smart phone and tablet as well as your computer. Note: If the test doesn’t completely run that means that your Internet connection performance is poor and having problems.
Run the Heat Map as often as you like -- the more times the better. Run it from home or work, coffee shops with Wi-Fi … anywhere … the more tests we get, and from all communities in the greater Annapolis Valley region the better.
Please share with anyone you know so they can do the testing as well. If their community is outside the Annapolis Valley Region identified in the map, it’s still good -- we represent all communities in the Atlantic Provinces. Please share this with folks in your communities.
The Annapolis Valley is the only rural region to be able to use this tool. Contact i-Valley directly to let us know how you made out or to report issues. i-Valley is a not-for-profit association representing the towns, districts, businesses, and academic organizations in the Annapolis Valley. Please check us out at:
There you have it! The road to better internet is in our hands, so if you've got bad internet in particular (like me), the more the better in your area.
March 7th marks the sixth time our Council has sat as a legislative body in our formal sessions. We met an extra session in January to discuss our municipal complex, but generally we gather once a month on the first Tuesday, from 6:00 pm until ... well, it depends on the type of issues we are discussing!
This past month I have tackled issues like J-class roads, renewable energy, internet, potholes, and met with folks like the West Nova MP Colin Fraser, a trail society, concerned residents, and community groups needing assistance with grants. I'm always available to help with all things municipal. Check out our agenda this month, listen online, and be sure to add your voice to the conversation using our new online engagement tool, PlaceSpeak (more to come on that later!)