ouncillors kicked off the month of September with another virtual regional council meeting.
It was a meeting of mostly housekeeping items, and you can get the full rundown watching our live-'gramming coverage at the 09/01 council highlight on The Coast's Instagram page.
- Council approved updates to the public art policy—mostly making it easier for the city to fund public art as part of new developments from different accounts, and providing much clearer guidelines. Councillor Sam Austin, who asked for the rules to be updated, worried that using the word "may" when talking about installing public art was too soft, and would result in less public art being included overall. HRM staffperson Jamie MacLellan says they wanted to keep some flexibility in the language “especially with the times we’re in now” with revenue and cashflow difficulties. He says the intention is that public art is included, “but it does provide council with perhaps a bit more discretion when there are resource pressures in a fiscal year.”
Halifax actor Kat McCormack responded via Instagram to this issue saying "The pitch is usually “well, we have to choose between art or a hospital!” or “we had to cut the arts for schools!” but somehow other sectors with the majority of the budget are never even considered.
"Cutting money from the arts is like when your phone is out of storage and instead of backing up your photos, you start deleting all of your tiny 2mb apps," says Mccormack.
- The report came back on the Gottingen Street bus lane project and the results were positive, with an increase in ridership. Bus lane restrictions will now be reduced to only weekday afternoons and not the morning.
- Council approved a list of projects put together by staff that HRM will put forward in its application for funding from the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Climate Change Mitigation Sub-Stream Funding Applications. Projects made it onto the list if staff felt they were most likely to qualify for funding, which prioritizes projects that focus on public transit, green and social infrastructure. These projects made the cut:
- A motion from councillor Richard Zurawski to get a staff report to look at a system to ensure have better communication and direction regarding the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Regional Wilderness Park passed.
- Council approved the bylaw and planning rule amendments to allow secondary and backyard suites in homes across HRM after a lengthy public hearing. Read all about that here.