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MLA Jessome Tables Bills to Improve Emergency Preparedness in Nova Scotia

Mar 26, 2024

Hammonds Plains-Lucasville MLA and Emergency Management Office critic Ben Jessome will table several bills today in response to community concerns after devastating wildfires swept his riding on May 28th, 2023.

“Our community has dealt with unimaginable tragedy and loss this past year from the wildfire,” said Jessome. “Today’s bills reflect the work of the community to come up with practical solutions the government can implement to help victims of wildfires and strengthen emergency preparedness for all Nova Scotians, now and in the future.”

Property tax assessments are often punitive for victims of emergencies and disasters. An amendment to the Assessment Act would ensure those impacted by emergencies such as wildfires, hurricanes, and floods won’t lose their property tax assessment cap by when reconstructing their home.

The Emergency Preparedness Act would improve and standardize emergency responsiveness by creating a specific fund to respond to disasters and emergencies for things such as the purchase of equipment, assistance to municipalities, and relief for victims.

The Emergency Access and Connector Roads Act would establish an infrastructure fund for emergency access and connector roads in areas deemed high-risk by municipalities, emergency management officials, and other experts.

Additional Quotes:

“Subdivisions are in great need of egress. Residents are requesting the province to provide funding to help support HRM in ensuring residents have the ability to evacuate their subdivisions through multiple routes. Residents should never be forced to be stuck in a traffic jam within their subdivision. This happened on May 28th in Highland Park Subdivision. We need to see the province and HRM work together for all residents from this point forward.”

- Marion Gillespie, Board Member and Former Chair of Highland Park Ratepayers Association

"The Capped Assessment Program was put in place by the Province of Nova Scotia in 2005 to protect Nova Scotians from sudden and dramatic increases in property assessments. The government at the time was concerned that people would be forced out of their homes due to rising taxes.

I believe that when writing the legislation, the drafters did not consider what would happen if someone experienced a disaster that took away their home and had to rebuild. This is particularly true given that, at the time, the cost to rebuild was lower, and the differences between capped assessments and fair market value assessments were not as significant despite fears it could get there.

Now, disaster victims who lose their homes and work to rebuild their homes will face sudden and dramatic increases in property assessments as their capped values will be removed and replaced with a new fair market value post build, less only a small savings differential. For some, this increase has already resulted in a 38% increase to their tax bills and, for others, could mean more than doubling it. Now, disaster victims could be forced out of their homes due to rising taxes. The same problem is here, and we need the government to bring in a regulation or legislative change that helps ensure disaster victims are protected from this sudden and dramatic increase when reconstructing their homes. Fixing this will only help disaster victims, including wildfire victims, to not be penalized by unintended consequences. We call upon the government to do the right thing."

- Tricia Murray-d'Eon, Highland Park Resident

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