Everything you need to know about HRM council’s March 26, 2024 meeting

At this week’s regular Tuesday meeting of city council, multiple councillors wore purple shirts to bring attention to epilepsy. Purple Shirt Day was started in 2009 by a Nova Scotian named Cassidy Megan, who wanted to raise awareness about people living with epilepsy and the challenges they face. It’s a good thing the purple shirt is only about awareness and not about action, because otherwise council could be accused of political grandstanding. Like people without full sight, people with epilepsy are often not allowed to drive. Thanks to the persistent and continued failure of Halifax’s bureaucracy and elected leaders, people who don’t drive cars are functionally second-class citizens in the HRM due to limited and unreliable transportation options that are not private automobiles.

So Purple Shirt Day, like all days, is a good day to be reminded that Halifax’s municipal government continues to fail people with epilepsy in the realm of transportation. Good of councillors to embrace the occasion by raising awareness of their transportation failures.

Things that passed:

Councillor Pam Lovelace put forward an information item about the climate adaptation strategy of “managed retreat” and wants the city to come up with a plan. This’ll get a report; councillor Iona Stoddard was the lone vote no.

Planning for the Strawberry Hill “future growth node” will start with this report from the Chief Administrative Officer. This passed unanimously and with very little debate. The contentious debates will come later when the public hearings start.

The city had to charge Airbnb owners who didn’t file proper paperwork for the municipal marketing levy if they report that they didn’t have to pay any money. Council is working to get rid of this needless administration for Airbnb owners because needless administrative burdens are only for The Poors in the HRM who have to prove how poor they are to access affordable municipal services. For Airbnb owners, the province has changed the legislation, and now the city will change their legislation too, with more details to come when staff comes back with a report in about a month. The city will be issuing refunds totalling about $63,000 to Airbnb owners who didn’t keep up with their legislatively required paperwork because Airbnb owners have power, and they flexed that power to get their municipal councillors and provincial MLAs to change legislation in their favour. Councillors Shawn Cleary, Lovelace, Paul Russell and Tim Outhit were the only no votes on this one.

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Taxpayers are subsidizing the driving for the residents of Noble Court, Lake Mist Court, Lake Eagle Drive, Hope Ave, Glory Ave, Joel Crescent and Queen’s Roads. For just over half a million dollars the city will pave approximately 1.8 kilometers of currently gravel roads to make driving easier for the residents of those seven streets. In the middle of a climate emergency that is accelerating, we just can’t stop subsidizing car driving. This passed unanimously.

Councillor Kathryn Morse’s motion is back and council voted unanimously to adopt a plan to prevent the spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid in the HRM. This plan will be funded next budget year, there is no urgency this year because the initial threat of the HWA in the HRM was eradicated. And although we may have won the opening battle in this war, the earth’s rythyms are a lot slower than humanity’s. The climate emergency is just starting to kick off and there’s a long fight ahead.

Council chambers are getting updated to reflect the modern era of hybrid council meetings. This will cost $155,000 and is much better use of tax money than paving gravel roads. This motion passed with councillors Trish Purdy, Sam Austin and Outhit voting no.

How bad is the housing crisis? Councillor David Hendsbee wants to know if we can let people live in RVs. This motion passed unanimously, so a report will be coming.

And some in-camera stuff too!

Notable Debates

Weirdly, there were none. This was one of the fastest and least controversial council meetings I’ve ever covered.

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