Government is giving municipalities an important tool to help residents who are experiencing dry wells as a result of a historic water shortage. Amendments to the Municipal Government Act and the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter introduced today, Nov. 3, allow municipalities to create a program that would pay the costs of drilling or expanding wells upfront. These costs would then be applied to a property’s tax bill and repaid over a specific period of time. “The lack of rainfall over the past number of months has caused about 2,000 wells in southwest Nova Scotia to go dry. Drilling a new well can be expensive and residents need support to get water flowing again,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill. “This program will provide Nova Scotians with opportunities to improve their water situation without having to worry about paying right away. It will also give municipalities another mechanism to help property owners fund similar projects in the future.” This financing model is used throughout Canada and the United States to fund improvements on commercial or residential properties. It has also been used by some Nova Scotia municipalities to fund energy efficiency projects. Under these amendments, municipalities that wish to participate would create a by-law that lays out the details of the program. The program would be voluntary, may cover up to 100 per cent of the project’s costs, have financing terms of up to 20 years, and could be combined with other federal or provincial programs. If required, municipalities can secure funding from the Nova Scotia Municipal Finance Corporation. “The past few months have been difficult for many of our residents who are struggling with dry wells,” said Eddie Nickerson, warden of the Municipality of the District of Barrington. “While our community has come together to offer help for those without water, these amendments will allow us to put affordable, long-term fixes in place to avoid these situations in the future.” The Province of Nova Scotia has been working with municipalities and community partners to help residents through this unprecedented water shortage by providing ongoing water delivery and direction to alternate shower facilities.
The instrument presently being negotiated will create a “verifiable and enforceable” regime for the protection and promotion of the human rights of disabled persons, committee President Luis Gallegos of Ecuador told a news briefing.The Ad Hoc Working Group Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disability, established by the General Assembly in 2001, has been holding its second session at UN Headquarters in New York since 16 June.Mr. Gallegos said the process constituted a major step in international efforts to legislate on behalf of the disabled community. Such a convention would also guide attitudes for generations to come.It was an important step for the UN, which sought to be in the forefront of the evolution towards a holistic and integrated society that incorporated groups which, for different reasons, had been discriminated against, he declared. The disabled community had been participating actively in the talks, as they were the shareholders and “guiders” of the process. As facilitator, he greatly admired their dedication to meet their community’s challenges.The authors were trying to follow a regime of human rights protection and promotion, with the major subject being that of disability, no matter the reason for that disability, Mr. Gallegos said. The convention would seek to protect the individuals’ human rights.The process was at a stage of “trying to vocalize” that the convention should deal with all types of disabilities – not necessarily the causes, but the consequences of being disabled, he added. People who were disabled as a result of war or armed conflict, whose human rights were not respected, could use the convention as an enforceable right not to be discriminated against. Mr. Gallegos said his goal was to have an instrument that responded to the needs of the disabled community, whatever the cause of their disability.