The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has burrowed head first into the innards of our municipal governments with its just-released Municipal Performance Report.
They came up wondering where all the guts were, and it’s no surprise.

In many cases municipalities were handed a lower grade than others simply due to the fact that they couldn’t – or wouldn’t – provide AIMS with information.

“This missing data reflects the weakness of current public reporting. There are no penalties for a municipality that fails to report, much of the data isn’t current and we were told because all municipalities did not agree, some information would not be made public,” reads the report’s summary on AIMS website.

This is a problem in many Nova Scotia towns, and we can’t call it anything else.
From a media perspective, town administrators and municipal politicians are generally co-operative when it comes to proactive disclosure of public information, but there are exceptions to the rule.

In our estimation, those exceptions occur when it’s uncertain whether the information requested should be made public – or when the information simply doesn’t exist, because it was never collected.

We concede it takes time, effort and – most importantly – money to produce and provide accurate information within a requested context. After all, it’s our job. But unfortunately, many smaller, cash-strapped towns in this province don’t have the resources they require to self-report.

It’s time for the Nova Scotia government to step in and make public reporting mandatory for Nova Scotia towns and penalize those who don’t – or won’t.

But it will mean more than simply drawing up a statute. The Department of Municipal Services must work with have-not towns to make sure they’re able to remain accountable to the public they serve.

Public reporting should never be considered a luxury.