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General - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens in the event that a municipal sewer line causes a back-up of sewage in my home?
  2. When is a councillor in a conflict of interest?
  3. Where can I find information on local service districts
  4. What is a poll tax?
  5. Am I required to pay poll taxes?
  6. Who is exempt from poll tax?
  7. How can I find more information about the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund?
  8. Where can I obtain a list of all municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador with their respective addresses and telephone numbers?
  9. Where can I find statistical information about municipalities?
  10. Where can I find information on emergency preparedness?
  11. Where can I find information on flooding?
  12. How can I obtain a copy of the Municipalities Act, 1999?
  13. When sending a letter to the Minister or the Department of Municipal Affairs, how long should I expect to wait before receiving a response?
  14. What are the guidelines for approval of the use of the coat of arms and shield?

1. What happens in the event that a municipal sewer line causes a back-up of sewage in my home?

Most municipal councils will have regulations governing this situation such as by-laws that require property owners to have a back-water check valve on their sewer lines to prevent sewage from backing up into their homes.

If you are not fortunate enough to have a back-water check valve on your line and you have sewage backing up into your home, you should immediately take whatever action is necessary to deal with the situation. (Clean-up, repairs, etc.) You should also contact your council to inform them of your problem. Council can have the matter checked out to determine possible causes and inform you of the city/town’s obligation, if any. You should immediately contact your insurance company as there may be an option for claims on damages.

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2. When is a councillor in a conflict of interest?

A councillor is in a conflict of interest when an issue comes before Council wherein he/she has a monetary interest. The Municipalities Act, 1999 Section 207 states

  1. A councillor shall not vote on or speak to a matter before the council or a committee of the council where
    1. The councillor has a monetary interest in the matter distinct from an interest arising from his or her functions as a councillor;
    2. The councillor has a monetary interest directly or indirectly in the matter;
    3. A relative of the councillor has a monetary interest in the matter;
    4. The councillor is an officer, employee or agent of an incorporated or unincorporated company, or other association of persons, that has a monetary interest in the matter.
  2. For the purpose of subsection (1) a relative of a councillor means a father, mother, spouse, cohabiting partner, sister, brother, child, step-child, ward, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law of the councillor.
  3. For the purpose of subsection (2)
    1. "Cohabiting partner" means a person with whom a councillor is living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage;
    2. "Spouse" means a person to whom a councillor is married, unless the person and the councillor have made a separation agreement or their support obligations and family property have been dealt with by a court order.
  4. In order for an interest to be considered as one falling within the prohibition set out in subsection (1) it shall be an interest distinct from an interest held in common with the other citizens or classes of citizens of the municipality.

councillors should be familiar with the Sections of the Municipalities Act, 1999 pertaining to conflict of interest and to seek advice from administrative staff, legal counsel or the Department of Municipal Affairs on issues of potential conflict.

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3. Where can I find information on local service districts?

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4. What is a poll tax?

A Poll tax is an individual tax based principally on income. Many municipalities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador charge poll taxes. We recommend you check with your local council or representative for confirmation or further information.

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5. Am I required to pay poll taxes?

Please refer to the following excerpt of the Municipalities Act, 1999 to verify whether or not you are liable for paying poll taxes: SECTION 126

  1. A council may impose an annual tax, to be known as "the poll tax" on
    1. A person who is 18 years of age or older and who is ordinarily resident in the municipality during the financial year;
    2. A person who is 18 years of age or older and who is employed in the municipality for not fewer than 90 days in total during the financial year of the council;
    3. An individual, partnership, association or corporation who is not ordinarily resident in the municipality but owns real property in the municipality.
  2. A person to whom paragraph (1)(a) refers who does not ordinarily reside in a municipality for the full current financial year is entitled to a rebate of the poll tax that the person has paid for the full year, the rebate to be in proportion to the duration of time that person is not resident.
  3. For the purpose of this section and section 127, the rules for determining the residency of a person under section 24 of the Municipal Elections Act shall apply to the determination of whether or not a person is ordinarily resident or non- resident in a municipality.
  4. Notwithstanding section 127, a poll tax is payable by a person when he or she becomes liable under subsection (1).

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6. Who is exempt from poll tax?

If you fall into any of the categories listed in the following excerpt of the Municipalities Act, 1999, you are not liable for poll taxes. Please refer to the following excerpt: SECTION 127

  1. The following persons or class of persons are not liable for a poll tax imposed under Section 126:
    1. A person who is liable to pay the real property tax in the municipality;
    2. A non-resident of the municipality who is employed in the municipality for a period of not fewer than a total of 90 days during the financial year of the council which would impose that tax where that non-resident pays a
      1. Real property tax,
      2. Poll tax, or
      3. Fee for service to the municipality or local service district in which he or she resides; and
    3. Upon application to a council, a person whose income from all sources for the taxation year under the Income Tax Act (Canada) immediately before the date on which a poll tax is due is less than the basic personal exemption provided for under that Act, or a greater amount which the council may determine.
  2. An application for an exemption under paragraph (1) (c) shall be made before July 1 in a financial year in order for that exemption to be applicable to that financial year.
  3. For the purpose of paragraph (1) (c), pension income received under the Old Age Security Act (Canada) and pensions and allowances that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may prescribe by regulation shall not be considered to be income.

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7. How can I find more information about the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund?

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8. Where can I obtain a list of all municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador with their respective addresses and telephone numbers?

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9. Where can I find statistical information about municipalities?

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10. Where can I find information on emergency preparedness?

The Division of Fire and Emergency Services is responsible for emergency preparedness. Their website is available from the link below:

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11. Where can I find information on flooding?

Please visit the Flood Risk Policy section for information on the follow:

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12. How can I obtain a copy of the Municipalities Act, 1999?

There are 3 ways to obtain a copy of this act:

  1. The House of Assembly Website
  2. Municipal Affairs Website under the Legislation
  3. The Office of the Queen's Printer (some printing fees may apply)

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13. When sending a letter to the Minister or the Department of Municipal Affairs, how long should I expect to wait before receiving a response?

Normally, a response to a written letter will take approximately 3 weeks after being received. Depending on the subject, some letters may require extensive research; therefore a response may take longer. Please contact the Department of Municipal Affairs by telephone if your concern is of great importance or urgency.

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14. What are the guidelines for approval of the use of the coat of arms and shield?

Authority:

  • Bill 29, passed in the First Session of the 44th General Assembly, amended the Coat of Arms Act by transferring authority for granting permission to use the Coat of Arms to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Uses of the Coat of Arms:

  • The use of the Coat of Arms by both government and non-governmental bodies must be dignified and tasteful
  • Periodically, requests for permission to use the Coat of Arms of Newfoundland and Labrador are received from organizations and businesses
  • The nature of these requests range from inclusion of the Coat of Arms of all Canadian jurisdictions on instructional or educational material to the production of sets of tourist memorabilia such as mugs bearing Canadian jurisdictional emblems

Process for Considering Requests:

  • The Policy and Planning Division of the Department of Municipal Affairs is responsible for reviewing all requests for the use of the Coat of Arms and its component parts
  • The Policy and Planning Division will evaluate all requests received and report to the Minister on the acceptability of the request
  • Requests for the use of these symbols must be in writing and must conform to the guidelines contained below:

Guidelines for Granting Permission to use the Coat of Arms or Shield of Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • The Coat of Arms and its components (Shield) are visual identity tools which portray strong symbols associated with the history and culture of the province
  • Its use is primarily as a provincial government identity tool, but it may also be used by non-government bodies, with the express written permission of the Minister of Municipal Affairs
  • Requests for the use of these symbols by non-governmental bodies will be evaluated against the following criteria:
    • Requests for the use of the Coat of Arms or the Provincial Shield must not infringe on the Trade Marks Act
    • Requests for permission to use the Coat of Arms or the Provincial Shield must be in writing, and must outline the intended use of these visual identity tools
    • Each request will be evaluated to ensure that the Coat of Arms or Provincial Shield will be used in a dignified manner, befitting these symbols of the province
    • A prototype, model, copy, photograph or other facsimile of the proposed product must be submitted with the request. Such reproductions of the Coat of Arms or the Provincial Shield must be an accurate representation of the symbols and must be in good taste
    • The use of the Coat of Arms must be in accordance with government’s Visual Identity Program
  • Each request will be evaluated to ensure that the Coat of Arms or Provincial Shield will be used in a dignified manner, befitting these symbols of the province
  • Typically, requests for the use of the Coat of Arms or Provincial Shield for instructional or educational purposes will be granted
  • Other requests will be evaluated on the basis of their merits, with approval being at the discretion of the Minister
  • Approval to use the Coat of Arms or the Provincial Shield will not suggest any connection, association, involvement or endorsement by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Approvals granted will be for a one-time use. If approval is granted, for example, to use the Coat of Arms in an educational brochure, the approval will be for that singular publication. If the applicant subsequently produces another brochure or book, and again wishes to use the Coat of Arms, another request for approval will be required
  • Where the reproduction of the Coat of Arms or Provincial Shield will be subject to deterioration, such as on an outdoor banner, flag or decal, approval would be conditional upon the symbol being restored regularly to prevent fading or deterioration
  • Other conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the Minister

Requests for the use of the Coat of Arms or the Shield should be forwarded to:

Mr. Rick Healey

Director
Policy and Planning Division
Department of Municipal Affairs
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL
A1B 4J6
Tel: (709) 729-2787

To Find Out More

For information and assistance, contact the Municipal Affairs office nearest you.

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