Municipal Government is often called "local government" or "grassroots government" because it's the level of government that is perceived to be closest to citizens. In a three-level system, municipal government is on the bottom floor. The Federal Government governs the whole nation; the Provincial Government governs individual provinces, like Nova Scotia; and Municipal Government governs municipalities (districts and towns). Each are responsible for different programs, services, and types of infrastructure. The Provincial Government is responsible for Municipal Governments.
The Municipality of the District of Chester is one of 51 municipal units in Nova Scotia incorporated under The Municipal Government Act (MGA). The MGA lists all of the rules that municipalities must follow. The Municipality was incorporated in 1879.
The Municipality is divided into "districts" (sections of land) that are each represented by one Councillor that is elected by that district's residents. The number of districts that the Municipality has is based on population and density. Each district has to represent a fairly equal number of citizens (+/- 10%). District boundaries are periodically reviewed to ensure that each Councillor isn't representing too many or too few residents than their fellow Councillors. Currently, we have seven districts.
During a Municipal Election (every four years in Nova Scotia), one person is elected to represent a district. If only one person is nominated in a district, they are "elected by acclamation" and automatically a Councillor. After the Election, successful candidates gather on the next regularly scheduled Council meeting and they are sworn in. Once that happens, they are officially Councillors and select a Warden to chair meetings. From there, Council makes policy decisions, such as by-laws and resolutions; prioritizes direction; presides over public hearings; and much more.
In our organizational chart, Council is at the top. They are supported by staff and advised by Standing and Special Committees. Each Councillor is expected to sit on Committees and report back to Council. Committees fully discuss and explore issues, consequences, and options. Once discussions reach a conclusion, a recommendation is given to Council in hopes that they will pass a resolution (decision). If Council agrees with the recommendation and are satisfied with the supporting information, they approve the recommendation. If they don't agree, the issue may be sent back to the Committee level for further investigation or alternate options; or, Council may choose their own option.
In the Municipality of Chester, Council adopted a "CAO System", which means that the CAO has the autonomy to manage staff during day-to-day operations. Staff will report to Council if they need supporting data, background reports, or any information that will provide clarity to an issue.