More than 565,000 assessment notices are in the mail today, Jan.12 to Nova Scotia property owners. Provincially, the total valueof property assessments in Nova Scotia is up by five per cent to$52.7 billion. The total assessed value of residential propertiesis up by 6.1 per cent while commercial properties have increasedby 2.4 per cent. In the Halifax Regional Municipality, total residentialassessment values are up by 7.9 per cent to more than $16.8billion. Total commercial assessment increased by 3.1 per cent toalmost $6.6 billion. The 2004 property assessments are based onmarket value at Jan. 1, 2002. “A strong real estate market in HRM is the primary reason for theincrease. Market value is the most equitable and widely acceptedapproach to property assessment in North America. Every provincein Canada and more than 120 other countries around the world usemarket value as a standard for property assessment,” said LloydMacLellan, director of the Central Regional Assessment Office. “The market value is easily understood by most property owners.It is determined by the buyers and sellers of the real estatemarket. That makes it easy for property owners to test fairnessbecause they can compare their assessment to sales of similarproperties. It also means that the same appraisal standards andprinciples can be applied to all residential properties acrossNova Scotia,” said Mr. MacLellan. Each year the assessment services division reassesses allproperties within Nova Scotia to establish an estimate of fairmarket value. Factors used to determine assessments includeanalysis of sales and building permits, local market conditions,depreciation, renovations and new construction. The Values arethen tested for statistical validity using internationallyaccepted assessment standards. In response to feedback from Nova Scotia property owners, asssessment services has added a new service to its website. Residential property owners can now obtain detailed informationabout their property by entering a personal identification number(PIN) and their assessment account number (AAN) atwww.nsassessment.ca . The PIN and AAN are printed on individualassessment notices. “Not everyone has Internet access, so property owners can alsoget that information and answers to their assessment questions bycalling our toll-free number at 1-800-667-5727,” said Mr.MacLellan. Property owners who disagree with their assessment have theopportunity to appeal. “Property owners should ask themselves if their assessment is a reflection of market value,” said Mr.MacLellan. “If they don’t think it is, they may appeal.” All appeals must be filed no later than midnight, Feb. 2. Once anappeal is received, an assessor will review the propertyvaluation and then notify the property owner with the result ofthe review. SERVICE N.S./MUNICIPAL RELATIONS–HRM Property Assessment Noticesin the Mail
In an address to a Security Council meeting on Darfur, Mr. Annan stressed that the humanitarian and security conditions have become so dire that Council members must use all their means to convince Khartoum that UN blue helmets should take over the work of the existing African Union (AU) force.“It is time to act. Not only in Darfur, but by people around the world, this is seen as a crucial test of the Council’s authority and effectiveness, its solidarity with people in need, and its seriousness in the quest for peace,” he said.Almost 2 million people are displaced as a result of the brutal conflict that has engulfed Darfur, an impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank, since 2003, while nearly 3 million people there depend on international aid for food, shelter and health care.The situation has worsened considerably since the signing in May of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) between the Government and some of the rebel groups it has been fighting. In the past two months, 12 aid workers have been killed – more than in the entire previous two years.Mr. Annan said the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will have to drastically scale back their humanitarian operations in Darfur unless the security situation improves.“Can we, in conscience, leave the people of Darfur to such a fate? Can the international community, having not done enough for the people of Rwanda in their time of need, just watch as this tragedy deepens?” he asked.“Having finally agreed just one year ago that there is a responsibility to protect, can we contemplate failing yet another test? Lessons are either learned or not; principles are either upheld or scorned. This is no time for the middle ground of half-measures or further debate.”The Secretary-General condemned the recent offensive by Government forces, which has included renewed aerial bombing and the deployment of thousands of armed troops, in violation of the DPA.He urged Khartoum to embrace resolution 1706, by which the Council voted to deploy a UN force of more than 17,000 peacekeepers across Darfur and said it “invites the consent” of the Sudanese Government.“My voice alone will not convince the Government,” said the Secretary-General, detailing his efforts to explain the transition to the Government, and to clear up any misconceptions or myths. “It is time now for additional voices to make themselves heard. We need governments and individual leaders in Africa and beyond, that are in a position to influence the government of Sudan, to bring that pressure to bear without delay. There must also be a clear, strong and uniform message from this Council,” Mr. Annan declared.Yassin Abdelsalam, Ambassador of Sudan – which has stated repeatedly that it does not want UN troops in Darfur – told the Council meeting that his Government remains open to dialogue and cooperation with the UN.But he said Council members had ignored or downplayed attacks by rebel groups and had not considered the Government’s own plan for stabilizing the situation in Darfur.Among the over one dozen participants addressing the Council, the League of Arab States’ Permanent Observer, Yaha Mahmassani, emphasized that cooperation was the only way to achieve a peaceful solution in Darfur, while the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s Permanent Observer Abdul Wahab said any UN deployment must have the consent of the Sudanese Government.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the wreath-laying ceremony on the occasion of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.UN Photo/Rick Bajornas Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the wreath-laying ceremony on the occasion of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas “Since its beginning in 1948, United Nations peacekeeping has evolved into one of the main tools used by the international community to manage complex crises that threaten international peace and security,” said Mr. Ban in message to mark the Day. “Throughout its history, the United Nations has established a total of 71 peacekeeping operations. More than one million military, police and civilian personnel have served as UN peacekeepers, including 125,000 in the sixteen missions in operation today.”The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is an occasion to salute the peacekeepers of today who serve in some of the world’s most volatile and dangerous environments. It is commemorated each year on 29 May because that that was the date in1948 when the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) – the world’s first peacekeeping mission – began operations in Palestine.“United Nations peacekeeping has given life to the UN Charter’s aim ‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security,’” said Mr. Ban. “Through years of struggle and sacrifice, the iconic Blue Helmet has earned its place as a symbol of hope to millions of people living in war-ravaged lands.”The message added that the Day exists as a chance to mourn fallen peacekeepers, noting that during its history, more than 3,300 “Blue Helmets” have died devoting their lives to peace, including 126 men and women in 2014.To mark the Day at UN Headquarters, the Secretary-General participated in a wreath-laying ceremony in the morning, then presided over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal was awarded posthumously to the military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations last year. Participants at the wreath-laying ceremony on the occasion of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas Participants at the wreath-laying ceremony on the occasion of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas ‹ ›At the wreath laying, Mr. Ban and gathered dignitaries observed a solemn moment of silence to honour those who had died in the past year. “Threats continue. Already this year, 49 peacekeepers have lost their lives,” he said. “The operational environments are getting worse. Our peacekeepers are increasingly exposed to asymmetric threats. They are attacked, targeted and killed by extremists.”He described particularly hazardous conditions faced by operations in Mali and Darfur, which were responsible for the largest losses of life, and in Liberia, where a peacekeeper was lost to Ebola.At the presentation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, Mr. Ban said that the 126 peacekeepers killed last year marked a saddening trend, as the danger grew and 2014 entered the books as the seventh in a row in which more than 100 peacekeepers had been killed. “Of all the ceremonies that the UN organizes, this is perhaps the most solemn and most difficult. But in many ways it is the most inspiring,” he said. “Their sacrifice, and the way that they lived their lives, makes us all proud and spurs us on to work harder to ensure that their lives were not lost in vain.”Currently, demand for UN peacekeeping operations is at an all-time high. Operations receive contributions of military and police personnel from 122 Member States. This impressive number reflects strong global confidence in the value of United Nations peacekeeping as a tool for collective security. In a press conference at headquarters, the Under-Secretary-Generals for Peacekeeping and for Field Support also reflected on the service of Blue Helmets who served the UN in the cause of peace in what he described as a “difficult world” but one in which there were extensive efforts to adjust to and rise to the expectations of the international community.“It’s an opportunity to reflect on the nature of the threats that we face on the ground,” said Mr. Ladsous on the evolution of peacekeeping in the modern world. “More than ever our obligation is to improve performance. We improve on performance by the use of up to date technology.”He said that did not mean merely the use of high-tech equipment like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) but was about putting a lot more technical means, many of which were available on commercial markets, to improve safety and security.This idea was echoed by Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support. He also underlined the need for availability of a wide variety of technology to counter the many “grave and asymmetrical” threats faced by peacekeepers as they discharged their complex mandates and he outlined his priorities for his tenure. They were to improve rapidity and proactivity of support, as well as its effectiveness and the efficiency with which it was delivered.He said he was “truly humbled” to receive the Dag Hammarskjöld medal on behalf of civilian peacekeepers, and noted that of the 126 peacekeepers who died last year, 19 were civilians, which he noted was a large proportion of the total. “Today is a day for reflection and gratitude for the service of peacekeepers,” he said. “But today is also a day of introspection, of reflection, on the sacrifices that serve as a stark reminder of the massive challenges that we face on the ground every day.”