Nova Scotia is the seventh-most populous province in Canada with 923,598 residents as of the 2016 Census of Population, and the second-smallest province in land area at 52,942 km2 (20,441 sq mi). Nova Scotia's 50 municipalities cover 99.8% of the territory's land mass, and are home to 98.9% of its population.[a]
Unlike the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, which have two-tiered municipality systems, Nova Scotia has a one-tier system of municipalities inclusive of four municipality types – regional municipalities, towns, county municipalities and district municipalities. Regional municipalities may incorporate under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) of 1998, which came into force on April 1, 1999, while towns, county municipalities and district municipalities are continued as municipalities under the MGA. The MGA gives municipal councils the power to make bylaws for "health, well being, safety and protection of persons" and "safety and protection of property" in addition to a few expressed powers.
Of its 50 municipalities, Nova Scotia has 3 regional municipalities, 26 towns, 9 county municipalities and 12 district municipalities. Halifax, the provincial capital, is incorporated as a regional municipality. It is Nova Scotia's largest municipality by population with 403,131 residents as of the 2016 census and largest municipality by land area at 5,490.35 km2 (2,119.84 sq mi).
Regional municipalities are incorporated under the authority of section 372 of Nova Scotia's Municipal Government Act. To consider the incorporation of a regional municipality, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) must receive a request from all municipalities within a county. If the request is unanimous, the NSUARB commissions the preparation of a study to determine if the incorporation of "a regional municipality would be in the interests of the people of the county." Nova Scotia's Governor in Council can order the incorporation of a regional municipality if the results of the study are deemed to be in the best interests of the people, and if a plebiscite is undertaken that results in the majority of electors in the county voting in favour of incorporation of a regional municipality.
Nova Scotia has three regional municipalities. The largest regional municipality by population is Halifax, which is the capital and largest municipality of Nova Scotia by population. Halifax's 403,131 residents represent 44% of the total population of the province. Halifax is also the largest municipality by land area at 5,490.35 km2 (2,119.84 sq mi). The Region of Queens Municipality is Nova Scotia's smallest regional municipality both by population and land area at 10,307 residents and 2,392.63 km2 (923.80 sq mi) respectively.
A rural municipality in Nova Scotia provides local government for rural areas outside incorporated towns. Rural municipalities were established in 1879 and are inclusive of county municipalities and district municipalities. District municipalities are within historical counties that were previously subdivided into districts, whereas county municipalities are within historical counties that were not previously subdivided into districts.
Nova Scotia's county municipalities originate from a historical system of 18 counties. Prior to the establishment of rural municipalities in 1879, local government was administered by appointed courts of sessions. On April 17, 1879, the original non-elected courts of sessions were abolished in favour of elected councils when The County Incorporation Act came into force. As a result, 12 county municipalities were established, while the remaining 6 counties, which were previously divided into districts for court sessional purposes, were established as district municipalities.
The province had 12 county municipalities for over a century until the mid-1990s when 3 became regional municipalities. Its 9 remaining county municipalities were then continued as county municipalities in 1998 under the authority of the Municipal Government Act. These county municipalities provide local government to the residents of their historical counties who live outside incorporated towns.
Nova Scotia's largest county municipality by population is the Municipality of the County of Kings at 47,404 residents, while the largest by land area is the Municipality of the County of Cumberland at 4,255.04 km2 (1,642.88 sq mi). The Municipality of the County of Victoria is the least populated county municipality at a population of 6,552. The Municipality of the County of Richmond is Nova Scotia's smallest county municipality by land area at 1,243.72 km2 (480.20 sq mi).
Prior to the establishment of elected rural local government in Nova Scotia, 6 of the 18 historical counties were divided into districts for court sessional purposes. On April 17, 1879, these 6 historical counties were established as 12 district municipalities, rather than county municipalities, based on their previous district divisions. The district municipalities provide local government to the residents of the 6 historical counties who live outside incorporated towns. Nova Scotia's 12 district municipalities continue administratively as district municipalities under the authority of the Municipal Government Act of 1998.
Nova Scotia's largest and smallest district municipalities by population are Lunenburg and St. Mary's with 24,863 and 2,233 residents respectively. Nova Scotia's largest district municipality by land area is Guysborough at 2,116.86 km2 (817.32 sq mi), while the smallest by land area is Yarmouth at 586.65 km2 (226.51 sq mi).
Prior to mid-2015, towns were incorporated under the authority of sections 383 through 388 of Nova Scotia's Municipal Government Act (MGA). To incorporate an area as a town, 100 electors within the area were required to prepare and submit an application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB). Upon receiving the application, the NSUARB would undertake a hearing to solicit input from interested parties and determine if there were reasonable grounds to incorporate as a town. The NSUARB would issue an incorporation order if the application was deemed reasonable. On May 11, 2015, sections 383 through 388 of the MGA were repealed, thereby preventing further incorporations of towns.
Nova Scotia had 27 towns at the time of the 2016 census. This total has since been reduced to 26 due to the dissolution of the Town of Parrsboro. In the 2016 census, the remaining 26 towns had a cumulative population of 97,495. Nova Scotia's largest and smallest towns by population are Truro and Annapolis Royal with 12,261 and 491 residents respectively. These two towns are also Nova Scotia's largest and smallest by land area at 34.49 km2 (13.32 sq mi) and 2.04 km2 (0.79 sq mi) respectively.
|2016 Census of Population|
|Cape Breton||Regional municipality||August 1, 1995||94,285||97,398||−3.2%||2,430.06||38.8/km2|
|Halifax||Regional municipality||April 1, 1996||403,131||390,086||+3.3%||5,490.35||73.4/km2|
|Queens||Regional municipality||April 1, 1996||10,307||10,917||−5.6%||2,392.63||4.3/km2|
|Annapolis[b]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||18,252||18,526||−1.5%||3,178.21||5.7/km2|
|Antigonish[c]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||14,584||14,692||−0.7%||1,450.27||10.1/km2|
|Colchester[d]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||36,091||36,624||−1.5%||3,572.49||10.1/km2|
|Cumberland[e]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||19,402||20,485||−5.3%||4,255.04||4.6/km2|
|Inverness[f]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||13,190||13,781||−4.3%||3,815.59||3.5/km2|
|Kings[g]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||47,404||47,569||−0.3%||2,094.05||22.6/km2|
|Pictou[h]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||20,692||21,278||−2.8%||2,797.25||7.4/km2|
|Richmond[i]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||8,458||8,812||−4.0%||1,243.72||6.8/km2|
|Victoria[j]||County municipality||April 17, 1879||6,552||6,597||−0.7%||2,854.01||2.3/km2|
|Argyle||District municipality||April 17, 1879||7,899||8,252||−4.3%||1,528.17||5.2/km2|
|Barrington||District municipality||April 17, 1879||6,646||6,994||−5.0%||632.35||10.5/km2|
|Chester||District municipality||April 17, 1879||10,310||10,599||−2.7%||1,122.11||9.2/km2|
|Clare||District municipality||April 17, 1879||8,018||8,319||−3.6%||852.55||9.4/km2|
|Digby||District municipality||April 17, 1879||7,107||7,463||−4.8%||1,657.33||4.3/km2|
|East Hants||District municipality||April 17, 1879||22,453||22,111||+1.5%||1,786.56||12.6/km2|
|Guysborough||District municipality||April 17, 1879||4,670||4,995||−6.5%||2,116.86||2.2/km2|
|Lunenburg||District municipality||April 17, 1879||24,863||25,118||−1.0%||1,759.59||14.1/km2|
|Shelburne||District municipality||April 17, 1879||4,288||4,408||−2.7%||1,821.07||2.4/km2|
|St. Mary's||District municipality||April 17, 1879||2,233||2,354||−5.1%||1,909.47||1.2/km2|
|West Hants||District municipality||April 17, 1879||15,368||15,324||+0.3%||1,244.09||12.4/km2|
|Yarmouth||District municipality||April 17, 1879||9,845||10,105||−2.6%||586.65||16.8/km2|
|Amherst||Town||December 18, 1889||9,413||9,717||−3.1%||12.07||779.9/km2|
|Annapolis Royal||Town||November 29, 1892||491||481||+2.1%||2.04||240.7/km2|
|Antigonish||Town||January 9, 1889||4,364||4,524||−3.5%||5.01||871.1/km2|
|Berwick||Town||May 25, 1923||2,509||2,454||+2.2%||6.58||381.3/km2|
|Bridgewater||Town||February 13, 1899||8,532||8,241||+3.5%||13.63||626.0/km2|
|Clark's Harbour||Town||March 4, 1919||758||820||−7.6%||2.81||269.8/km2|
|Digby||Town||December 18, 1890||2,060||2,152||−4.3%||3.15||654.0/km2|
|Kentville||Town||May 1, 1886||6,271||6,094||+2.9%||17.26||363.3/km2|
|Lockeport||Town||February 26, 1907||531||588||−9.7%||2.33||227.9/km2|
|Lunenburg||Town||October 29, 1888||2,263||2,313||−2.2%||4.04||560.1/km2|
|Mahone Bay||Town||March 31, 1919||1,036||943||+9.9%||3.12||332.1/km2|
|Middleton||Town||May 31, 1909||1,832||1,749||+4.7%||5.57||328.9/km2|
|Mulgrave||Town||December 1, 1923||722||794||−9.1%||17.83||40.5/km2|
|New Glasgow||Town||May 6, 1875||9,075||9,562||−5.1%||9.96||911.1/km2|
|Oxford||Town||April 19, 1904||1,190||1,151||+3.4%||10.76||110.6/km2|
|Pictou||Town||May 4, 1874||3,186||3,437||−7.3%||8.01||397.8/km2|
|Port Hawkesbury||Town||January 22, 1889||3,214||3,366||−4.5%||8.1||396.8/km2|
|Shelburne||Town||April 4, 1907||1,743||1,686||+3.4%||8.84||197.2/km2|
|Stellarton||Town||October 22, 1889||4,208||4,485||−6.2%||8.99||468.1/km2|
|Stewiacke||Town||August 30, 1906||1,373||1,438||−4.5%||17.62||77.9/km2|
|Trenton||Town||March 18, 1911||2,474||2,616||−5.4%||6.07||407.6/km2|
|Truro||Town||May 6, 1875||12,261||12,059||+1.7%||34.49||355.5/km2|
|Westville||Town||August 20, 1894||3,628||3,798||−4.5%||14.23||255.0/km2|
|Windsor||Town||April 4, 1878||3,648||3,785||−3.6%||9.11||400.4/km2|
|Wolfville||Town||March 4, 1893||4,195||4,269||−1.7%||6.46||649.4/km2|
|Yarmouth||Town||August 6, 1890||6,518||6,761||−3.6%||10.57||616.7/km2|
|Total regional municipalities||—||—||507,723||498,401||+1.9%||10,313.04||49.2/km2|
|Total county municipalities||—||—||184,625||188,364||−2.0%||25,260.63||7.3/km2|
|Total district municipalities||—||—||123,700||126,042||−1.9%||17,016.8||7.3/km2|
|Province of Nova Scotia||—||—||923,598||921,727||+0.2%||52,942.27||17.45/km2|
Nova Scotia has undergone reforms to local government since the mid-1990s, which has seen various municipalities amalgamate to form larger municipalities or dissolve into surrounding municipalities.
The Municipality of the County of Cape Breton, the City of Sydney, and the towns of Dominion, Glace Bay, Louisbourg, New Waterford, North Sydney, and Sydney Mines dissolved and amalgamated on April 1, 1995 to form the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The City of Halifax along with the City of Dartmouth, the Town of Bedford and the Municipality of the County of Halifax also dissolved and amalgamated on April 1, 1996 to become the Halifax Regional Municipality. Also on April 1, 1996, the Municipality of the County of Queens amalgamated with the Town of Liverpool to form the Region of Queens Municipality.
Five towns have dissolved since 2011 and are now under the jurisdiction of their adjacent rural municipalities. Canso dissolved on July 1, 2012 to become part of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. On April 1, 2015, Bridgetown and Springhill dissolved to become parts of the Municipality of the County of Annapolis and the Municipality of the County of Cumberland respectively. Hantsport became part of the Municipality of the District of West Hants on July 1, 2015. Parrsboro dissolved to become part of the Municipality of the County of Cumberland on November 1, 2016.
The Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have two-tier municipality systems.
It was incorporated as a town on April 4, 1907.
Annapolis County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia located in the western part of the province on the Bay of Fundy. The county seat is Annapolis Royal.Antigonish County
The Municipality of the County of Antigonish is a municipality in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is also known as Antigonish County. It is located in northern Nova Scotia on the Northumberland Strait.Colchester County
Colchester County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. With a population of 50,585 the county is the fourth largest in Nova Scotia. Colchester County is located in north central Nova Scotia.
The majority of the county is governed by the Municipality of the County of Colchester, the county also is home to two independent incorporated towns, Stewiacke and Truro, two village commissions in Bible Hill and Tatamagouche, and the Millbrook 27 First Nations reserve.Cumberland County, Nova Scotia
Cumberland County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Inverness County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Its territory is almost contiguous with the Municipality of Inverness County, which only excludes the town of Port Hawkesbury and Miꞌkmaq reserves.List of counties of Nova Scotia
The Canadian province of Nova Scotia has a historical system of 18 counties that originally had appointed court systems to administer local governance prior to the establishment of elected local governments in 1879. The historical counties continue as census divisions used by Statistics Canada for statistical purposes in administering the Canadian census.Lockeport
Lockeport is a town and port in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is a traditional Nova Scotian fishing town, situated on a peninsula in Allendale Bay. It is connected to the mainland by the Crescent Beach causeway. The area that surrounds the bay is known as the "Ragged Islands."Mulgrave, Nova Scotia
Mulgrave is a town on the Strait of Canso in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The town's current name was adopted in 1859 to honour the colonial Lieutenant Governor, the Earl of Mulgrave. The town of Mulgrave lies on the Strait of Canso opposite the town of Port Hawkesbury.Municipality of the District of Guysborough
Guysborough, officially named the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, is a district municipality in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Statistics Canada classifies the district municipality as a municipal district.
It is home to the Boylston and Salsman Provincial Parks. The parks are located between Boylston and Guysborough.Municipality of the District of Lunenburg
Lunenburg, officially named the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, is a district municipality in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Statistics Canada classifies the district municipality as a municipal district.
Lunenburg surrounds the towns of Bridgewater, Lunenberg, and Mahone Bay, which are incorporated separately and not part of the district municipality.Municipality of the District of Shelburne
Shelburne, officially named the Municipality of the District of Shelburne, is a district municipality comprising the eastern section of Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Statistics Canada classifies the district municipality as a municipal district.Oxford, Nova Scotia
Oxford is a town in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Canada 32 km (20 mi) east of Amherst. The town is directly serviced by Routes 104, 204, 301, and 321. Oxford is the only town in Nova Scotia that doesn't provide its' tax paying citizens with garbage collection.Region of Queens Municipality
The Region of Queens Municipality is a Canadian regional municipality located in southwestern Nova Scotia. Queens is the southern gateway of the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, where outdoor activities are always close at hand. Campgrounds at Kejimukujik National Park and National Historic Site, Thomas H. Raddall Provincial Park, and several other locations are great places for hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The seacoast and inland areas provide excellent photo opportunities.Richmond County, Nova Scotia
Richmond County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. For a list of communities in Richmond County, see the eponymous page.Stellarton
Stellarton is a town located in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is adjacent and to the south of the larger town of New Glasgow. In pioneer times the area was called Coal Mines Station, and from 1833 until 1870, it was known as Albion Mines. The town was incorporated as Stellarton in 1889 and owes its name to a specific type of torbanite which came to be known as "stellarite" because of the "stars of fire" given off by its sparky flame.Stewiacke
Stewiacke is a town located in southern Colchester County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The town was incorporated on August 30, 1906.Trenton, Nova Scotia
Trenton is a Canadian town located in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Founded in 1786, it is situated on the east bank of the East River of Pictou. The community gained its name in 1882 at the suggestion of a prominent citizen, Harvey Graham, after he visited Trenton, New Jersey. It was incorporated as a town on 11 March 1911.Victoria County, Nova Scotia
Victoria County is a county in Nova Scotia, Canada. The shire town and largest municipality is the village of Baddeck.Westville, Nova Scotia
Westville is a town in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is located immediately west of Stellarton and about four kilometres southwest of New Glasgow, the major town in the area.