Municipal Government (General)

Purpose of Government

  • Protect public and property from internal and external threats
  • Influence economic development
  • Carry out major projects that the private sector does not provide (e.g. roads, sewer systems, recreation centres, etc.)
  • Encourage safe working and living conditions
  • Mediate amongst diverse interests and build consensus where possible
  • Provide a wide variety of social programs that protect citizens from economic uncertainties and support those unable to fend for themselves

What is Municipal Government?

It is the part of the government structure in Canada that regulates, mediates, and promotes the interest of people. Municipal governments are non profit and are not a business.

No independant powers were given to municipalities by the Constitution Act of 1982 and therefore they are considered "creatures of the Province".  As such, their legal authority flows through provincial legislation and their powers are determined by the Province. These powers can be changed, added, or removed at the Province's discretion. It is important to note municipalities vary in form, function, and responsibilities across Canada. In Nova Scotia, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is responsible for municipal affairs.

The first Municipality to be incorporated was Halifax in 1841. Yarmouth was incorporated in 1855, but was later unincorporated in 1858. The County Incorporation Act was created in 1879.

The Municipal Government Act or MGA is enabling legislation, which means that municipalities can only do what it says they can do in the Act. This is to say that municipalities cannot legally do anything that has not been authorized through provincial legislation, such as, but not limited to:

Municipal Government Act and Halifax Charter
Assessment Act
Municipal Grants Act
Municipal Elections Act
Municipal Conflict of Interest Act

The MGA Resource Binder is available on the Internet.