While each project – like each municipality – is uniquely defined and distinct in its own right, there is a great deal in common. Like all levels of government, municipalities all face difficult decisions and competing interests. We all have to do more with less, stretch our dollars and find creative solutions to the challenges facing our communities. With a new year ahead comes a new beginning. While a lot is being done, there is still a lot to do. All of the pressures facing us must receive attention and be addressed. Narrowly-focused viewpoints have the potential to overlook the possibilities. So now, more than ever, we all must build on what we’ve started; be creative, collaborative and innovative as the success of one leads to the success of many. -30- As 2011 comes to a close, I would like to highlight some of the innovative projects and partnerships we’ve had the privilege of taking part in with our municipal partners. Projects that are making life better for Nova Scotians. This is an important time in the life cycle of municipalities. We are at a turning point that calls for us to make a decision – continue as we are or change direction for the better. I am aware of the challenges facing many Nova Scotia towns including aging infrastructure, population shifts and shrinking tax bases, and I am encouraged by new ideas and regional approaches between communities where it makes sense. One such example is the Towns Task Force, chaired by Kentville Mayor David Corkum, and made up of municipal elected officials, and staff from Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM), Association of Municipal Administrators of Nova Scotia and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The task force is working hard to come up with recommendations that will help us maintain our communities as great places to live, work and raise families. The province has committed $100,000 to assist with the work of the task force. It will bring recommendations forward to the UNSM and the province on measures to address the long term sustainability of communities. Another important collaborative project is the fiscal review, which is looking at all the provincial funding programs in collaboration with the UNSM, Association of Municipal Administrators of Nova Scotia, and municipalities. This review will include a steering committee of municipal and provincial representatives, which will be formed in the New Year.It has been 10 years since we engaged in a collaborative review of programs. It is important that, together, we review funding programs and services for municipalities to ensure they are meeting the needs of communities and consider the context of the province’s current fiscal reality. Both the Towns Task Force and fiscal review involve all municipalities, however many municipalities are entering into innovative collaborations at the regional level as well. In the Strait area, the province collaborated with nine municipalities to form a partnership to purchase new financial software. This initiative is saving these communities thousands of dollars that can be moved into other municipal priorities. The Kings County 2050 project is another example of collaboration among municipalities and the province. This comprehensive land use planning exercise is being conducted by Kings County Municipality with the co-operation of the towns of Kentville, Wolfville, and Berwick. Working together to solve cross jurisdictional issues, this is a true example of a regional municipal planning strategy. Other successful projects include: the province is assisting the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, Town of Bridgewater and the Town of Mahone Bay with a study that will explore opportunities for shared services and governance options the province is supporting Canso in its transition to become part of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough the province’s commitment of $300,000 to assist with the establishment of a Municipal Auditor General’s Office will bring more transparency and accountability to municipal operations with leadership from the province, residents and council in Bridgetown have come together to pass a budget, set a new tax rate, and are moving toward a more positive and sustainable future.
Couche-Tard chairman still sees opportunity to extend founders’ voting control LAVAL, Que. – Alimentation Couche-Tard’s chairman Alain Bouchard says a solution can be found over the next five years to protect the convenience store chain from the threat of a hostile takeover.His comments come a year after opposition from large institutional investors forced Couche-Tard’s four founders to withdraw a shareholder vote on extending their voting advantage.Bouchard declined to detail available options, but said an agreement is possible that eliminates the need for a formal vote.He said he would never go around shareholders.“I’m too respectful of our shareholders, even the ones that didn’t support me,” he told reporters after the company’s annual meeting.The founders last year withdrew, at the last minute, a proposal allowing them to retain multiple voting share as long as one sits on the company’s board.Under current rules set to expire in five years, the advantage ends when the last of the four turns 65 or dies. Jacques D’Amours reaches that age in December 2021, while Bouchard, Richard Fortin and Real Plourde are all at least 65.The founders require support from two-thirds of shareholders to make any change.They faced opposition last year from proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services, which many large companies follow in casting their votes.Bouchard said there appears more support now to the proposal.Even without the change, he said a hostile takeover would be difficult because of Couche-Tard’s (TSX:ATD.B) $37 billion in market capitalization, the 23 per cent controlled by the founders and support of long-standing shareholders.“So it won’t be easy tomorrow, or even in five years, if the environment doesn’t change,” he said.However, Bouchard said he’s most worried the company’s share price could dramatically fall as it has done several times, including in 2008 when its share price lost 65 per cent of its value almost overnight during the financial crisis.Meanwhile, Bouchard told reporters that he’s not opposed to government efforts to increase minimum wages to $15 per hour, but said the result would be higher prices as the costs would be passed to consumers.Earlier, Couche-Tard told shareholders that it will look to further grow fuel volumes, including in emerging markets, to offset the expected threat in the next five or six years from electric cars and more fuel-efficient vehicles.Bouchard said the company has seen a similar situation with tobacco as fewer people smoke. However, the company has grown its cigarette sales.He also defended against shareholder Yvon Gagnon’s criticism of chief executive Brian Hannasch’s lack of ability to speak French.“I find this somewhat insulting,” Gagnon said, noting that Bouchard promised two years ago that the American-born CEO would learn French.Bouchard responded that Hannasch has been instead focused on growing the company, including through a series of acquisitions that will make it the largest convenience store chain in North America.Follow @RossMarowits on Twitter. by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 20, 2016 3:31 pm MDT Last Updated Sep 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email