Government of Nova Scotianovascotia.ca
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Community Identity

The Nova Scotia Gazetteer identifies 2,750 official community names–from historic settlements to new subdivisions. All these diverse communities have been incorporated into only 54 municipalities. Over the years, some communities have expressed concern about their identity. Municipal governments want to address these concerns and strengthen the sense of community identity within their municipalities.

What does community identity mean to Nova Scotians?

Community identity can be broadly defined as emotional attachment or sense of belonging to a geographic area. It can also refer to a community of interest. Citizens' concerns with community identity can range from simply wanting their geographic area recognized as distinct, to wanting formal recognition with representation and access to community decision-making.

Factors affecting community identity can include:

  • growth beyond the early historic community boundaries
  • a decrease in population base
  • a decline of a community's economic base, either through the loss of industry or diminished natural resources
  • realignment of municipal boundaries
  • a loss of influence in decision making

What can municipalities and citizens do?

While community identity cannot be forced or legislated, the Municipal Government Act (MGA) provides guidelines for creating committees where citizens and municipalities can work together to address concerns. These committees include:

  • Standing, Special and Advisory Committees (MGA s.24)
  • Citizen Advisory Committees (MGA s.26)
  • Community Council (MGA s.27)
  • Area Planning Advisory Committees (MGA s.201)
  • HRM Community Councils

The MGA requires the municipality to adopt the appropriate policy for creating these advisory committees. The 2006 Nova Scotia Model Policy Manual for Municipalities, developed by the Association of Municipal Administrators (AMA) Nova Scotia, provides model policies in:

  • Chapter 2, Policy on Committees of Council
  • Chapter 3, Citizen Advisory Committees Policy
  • Chapter 4, Community Committees Policy

As an individual or member of a business group, neighbourhood group or special interest group, you may request the formation of a committee.

Write to your council or councilor outlining your concerns. Indicate the type of committee you would like to see and, if you want to get involved, offer your name or nominate someone who is willing to sit on this committee.

Committees can be an integral part of every municipality, and an effective means of enhancing community identity. The most important factor, though, will be the commitment of the municipal council and the citizens.