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Here's what happened at council this week 

A look at the use of “Micmac” in municipal streets and buildings, year-round cafe approval and more.

City hall remains underused because of the pandemic. - THE COAST
  • City hall remains underused because of the pandemic.
  • The Coast
Another day, another dollar, another look at the use of Micmac instead of Mi'kmaq in Halifax. As usual, The Coast live-'grammed Tuesday's council meeting on our Instagram stories—click here to see what happened in real time—but we hope you enjoy this recap, too.

click to enlarge Councillor Sam Austin
  • Councillor Sam Austin
On the heels of the landmark report from the Task Force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History, comes a motion from councillor Sam Austin to actually put some of those recommendations into practice, by looking into renaming streets, boulevards, courts and drives in HRM that have the name Micmac, as well as the Micmac transit terminal and other locations that use the anglicized spelling of the people who were here first. 

The report, which starts on page five of this link here, is required reading for anyone living in Halifax wondering what reconciliation can and should look like.

In other news from the November 17 meeting of Halifax Regional Council…
  • Council approved a motion to make changes to the cafe patio rules, allowing businesses to operate year-round if they meet the requirements. This will leave snow clearing up to the businesses, and loosen some of the restrictions that would otherwise disqualify a business from setting up a patio. Businesses have to apply before December 31 to be considered.

  • A pre-2016 motion to consider giving not-for-profit daycare centres access to less-than-market-value leases (which is necessary to see daycares and early childhood learning centres in HRM rec centres) was moved forward, and staff will return to council with a report at some point.

  • Council accepted the public benefit density bonusing offer from Killam Apartment REIT and Architecture 49 for this building at the corner of Hollis and Bishop Streets:

    click to enlarge screen_shot_2020-11-17_at_2.12.43_pm.png

    What the developer offered as a public benefit, in order to get permission to build a little bigger than the rules normally allow, was to put the wiring around the building underground. The report on the deal says it'll come at a cost of $72,000.

    You may be thinking, "but I thought they set up that special account so the public benefit could be cash that ends up in the hands of non-profits providing housing?" And that account does exist, but it's just one of many options a developer can choose as its public benefit in exchange for more square footage.

  • click to enlarge Councillor Becky Kent
    • Councillor Becky Kent
    The new council sorted out who'll be sitting on which standing committees for the next while. Notably, councillor Tony Mancini's seat on the board of police commissioners went to Becky Kent, who joins deputy mayor Lisa Blackburn and councillor Lindell Smith. These standing committees will appoint members to the executive standing committee, likely in early January says HRM spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray. The executive standing committee will then appoint members to the remaining boards and committees, so that'll happen in 2021 too. The groundwork for things that happen at council starts at the committee level, so it's worth keeping tabs of who is where. Here's a breakdown of who's on each standing committee:

  • click to enlarge screen_shot_2020-11-19_at_5.40.32_pm.png

  • click to enlarge Councillor Tony Mancini
    • Councillor Tony Mancini
    Councillor Mancini presented his notice of motion to get HRM to look at bringing back in-person public hearings. A public hearing is often the last point in a decision or policy for the public to participate, and while the switch to virtual in some cases has enabled more people to participate, it's prevented others. The Coast asked readers (via our Instagram Stories live-reporting of council) if they think HRM should work to bring back in-person public hearings, and 56 percent of respondents said no. Eighty-eight percent said that shouldn't happen until the risk of COVID-19 has gone away, and 94 percent of respondents said HRM should double down on online and virtual public participation.

  • Council voted to sell HRM land in Dartmouth to the affordable housing association of Nova Scotia at a public hearing after the regional council meeting.

  • Next week, regional council will have a special meeting on Tuesday to decide what to do with the $8.6 million from CMHC for the creation of 28 affordable housing units.

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