Everything you need to know about HRM council's Sept 29 meeting | City | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Here's what happened at HRM council's regular meeting on September 13, 2022.

Everything you need to know about HRM council's Sept 29 meeting

Dalhousie University is a bad neighbour, so too are some pizza shops

Shorter-than-normal council meeting this week as the potentially contentious public hearings all got postponed. Public hearings need a minimum amount of notice given to people who want to attend. A last-minute postponement means that if the public hearings had gone ahead, they wouldn’t have counted, legally speaking.

In spite of what you may have read on the internet, Jubilee and Triple A are not being forced to close at 11pm. The bylaw passed the first reading, and now should come back to council with some suggestions on the exact wording of the bylaw. If you’re against this piece of legislation and don’t want it to go ahead, reach out to your councillor and tell them. Writing councillors emails or calling them is more effective than posting to social media. By a lot. Councillor's contact information can be found here. Interestingly, if this becomes law, this will be the first time I can remember of council doing something to hinder small business owners. Ah well, it looks like Nova Scotia only has room for one refugee fleeing a war-torn country and then creating a small business success story, and that’s Peace by Chocolate. Too bad for you, Amyoony family of Triple A, who twice had to flee war. Imagine surviving two wars and creating a successful small business only to be hamstrung by the ire of NIMBYs.

Things that passed:

The public hearing on 1245 Edward Street’s heritage status was postponed. Getting heritage status would protect it from Dalhousie University’s demolition rampage. 1102 Purcell’s Cove Road was also supposed to have a public hearing to become a heritage building.

The third and final public hearing was supposed to be about the regional plan review, but that was also postponed. The review is a sweeping document with a bunch of seemingly minor changes to how land can be used in the HRM. For example, riparian buffers in Eastern Passage could be built up in certain scenarios, like putting in a boat house for a fishing boat. There will be an explainer about the changes coming to the city on The Coast at some point once The Coast has had time to read and write about the 375-page PDF.

Those three public hearings will be rescheduled because, if they were held at the new Thursday council meeting time, they would not meet the legislative requirements for notification.

Councillor Paul Russell brought forward the city’s annual workforce report to council as an information item. He brought this forward because he wants the report to have more information on the HRM’s workforce. The report lacked a lot of basic data like demographic information. Council decided that this was the purview of the executive council and sent his request there, with only Russell voting against it.

Deputy mayor Pam Lovelace brought forward a report on the approval process for community area rates. She brought this forward because non-profits and community groups frequently need this information, and she believes the city should make it easier for them to get it.

Council was supposed to give first reading to a new bylaw (S-450) which will allow the city to pave Bayshore Drive, Tidal Way, Delmerle Drive, Maple Drive, Prospect River Court, Birchpond Court and Tara Drive. The streets are currently gravel and provincially owned. This bylaw, should it pass second reading, means the city and individual property owners on the affected streets will split the cost of paving provincial gravel roads. The total cost to those property owners will be $421,813.04, with each property paying roughly $57 per foot of property that touches the affected roads. However, this was removed from the consent agenda and deferred so the councillor for the area, Patty Cuttell, who was absent to attend a funeral, could speak to the motion.

Council directed city CAO Jaques Dubé to ask for money from the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Fund to make the Mill Cove Ferry a reality. The city is asking again because its first ask of the feds had “a high degree of uncertainty,” so the city is now asking for less money. It is an expensive project, up to $215 million, but getting out of cars and saving the planet will be expensive. The city, assuming the province doesn’t chicken out, is on the hook for 27% (up to $58 million). Russell voted against this motion because there is “no benefit” to this ferry because there are Halifax Transit buses on Bedford Highway. Someone has clearly not driven on Bedford Highway during rush hour.

The city is paying $184,295 more for a design consultant for Fire Station #8’s new design. The initial cost for the redesign was pegged at $751,886 and given to Architecture49 Inc. In March, the city gave Architecture49 an additional $4,615. The total cost of Phase 1 is now $940,796. When the work on Fire Station #8 is done, it should save the city $55,494 a year. In just shy of 17 years, the city will have made its money back for Phase 1’s expenses. Come, gather ‘round, bask in the warm glow of fiscal efficiency provided by public-private partnerships.

WM Fares wants to put a six-storey building on Westerwald Street, and Upland Planning and Design Studio wants to put a six-storey building on the corner of Titus and Main. The next step in this process would have been a public hearing; councillor Kathryn Morse wants a supplemental report to see whether density bonuses could be attached to this development to try and get some sort of benefit for the surrounding community. This motion was deferred to figure out if density bonuses could be applied, with only mayor Mike Savage voting no.

KWR Approvals, on behalf of Perry Lakes Developments, is trying to put three apartment/condo buildings at the end of Ingram Drive. The city needs to change the zoning to allow the density these buildings will require, and this first reading is the first step in that process. Shawn Cleary was the only no vote.

Councillor Waye Mason is coming for Jubilee Junction and Triple A Convenience & Pizzeria. If this bylaw comes back for second reading as is, those two legendairy (cheese pun!) late-night pizza institutions have been a thorn in non-student residents’ sides since they introduced late-night pizza in 2012. Should this bylaw pass as is, both of these stores will be forced to close by 11pm. Putting an end to Halifax’s not-quite-bodega-level-of-fame tradition of residential pizza corners. This passed first reading unanimously.

Council also voted to make a plan to work with Dalhousie so the city isn’t caught unaware again by Dal’s wrecking ball. This was taken off the consent agenda by Lovelace to add an arguably redundant amendment, saying the city should work collaboratively with the universities to make more housing for students. This motion was amended to direct the city to be more “collaborative” with universities. The amended motion passed unanimously.

After the city’s transportation standing committee meeting last week—during which the failure of the Spring Garden Road pedestrian-only pilot project was discussed—council told its CAO to figure out how to do it right this time. Hopefully the city fully learns the lesson that drivers do not follow posted signs if it even mildly inconveniences their drive. It passed with councillor Trish Purdy voting no.

Council has voted to extend the lease of West Halifax Housing Co-Operative Limited. The co-op has been running the building on Regent Road for 40 years and wants to renew the lease a bit early to secure federal funding. It passed unanimously.

Councillor Lisa Blackburn has asked for a staff report on delisting St. John Anglican Church on Old Sackville Road. The church wants to create a seniors care facility but can’t do that with its current heritage registration. The church is breaking off a part of its property and is trying to create a new section of the lot that does not have heritage designation.

And finally, Savage put forward a notice for motion. He wants to know the specific bureaucratic details of just how hard Halifax can party; policy, safety, service standards and procedurally speaking.

Notable debates:

During the demographic workforce info session, Russell asked the CAO for a supplemental report with all of the missing information. The report used to have the data Russell wanted, but that data was unreliable, so it was irresponsible to send it to council, which resulted in a shorter report with just the confirmable, accurate data the city has. Councillor Tim Outhit wants this information for the city, and since the city should now be able to provide that data with some new software it received in the past year, it would be good information for council to have for budget season. City staff told council that the more robust data collection is still too new to show trends, but the current more accurate snapshot of HRM’s workforce demographics should be available for the next budget season. The only reason this is being included in the notable debate section is because there is a growing trend in mostly Conservative circles which is the belief that white people are the most discriminated against in society. It’s just worth keeping an eye on with what’s going on in the zeitgeist these days, and Russell’s strayed close to the line before.

The other notable debate at council was about Dalhousie University’s aggressive demolition of potential heritage buildings. Councillors told each other at the meeting that Dal has been pretty consistent in saying it just wants to preserve heritage buildings and make more housing for students. Mason is calling foul on Dal, saying its argument is likely a lie. He said Dal has enough land being used as parking lots it can turn into housing if the school was serious about housing. He also says it’s hard to believe Dalhousie is serious about heritage protections, as the university wants to tear down all its historic non-housing buildings on campus. “They’re not great at working with us,” added Cleary about Dalhousie. Councillor Becky Kent says that she doesn’t think Dalhousie is acting in bad faith, but even if it is, it should be invited to the table.

Councillor ratings:

This section will be suspended until a better schedule for ratings can be determined. There is just not consistently enough that happens in routine budget meetings to be able to justify scores for all councillors. Especially ones who only speak when they need to, as compared to some others who only speak when it’s been too long since they’ve heard their own voice in the Clear-ish silence of council chambers.

Matt Stickland

Matt spent 10 years in the Navy where he deployed to Libya with HMCS Charlottetown and then became a submariner until ‘retiring’ in 2018. In 2019 he completed his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of King’s College. Matt is an almost award winning opinion writer.
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