7 sto­ries from city hall

Hends­bee’s pen­sion pro­posal halted, Ot­ter Lake land­fill fund trashed and a $25-mil­lion fuel ten­der runs out of gas.

The Coast - - THE CITY - BY JA­COB BOON

Hends­bee hin­dered

David Hends­bee won’t be get­ting any pub­lic money to top up his pen­sion. Coun­cil shot down a re­quest from the long­time Pre­ston-Chezzetcook-East­ern Shore rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who wanted HRM to match costs so he could more eas­ily buy back years of ser­vice. “No way, no how, not on my watch,” said Lisa Black­burn. “You have my sym­pa­thy, but not my sup­port on this.” The 57-year-old Hends­bee only bought into the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s pen­sion plan last Oc­to­ber, de­spite 20 years of pub­lic ser­vice.

Land­fill fund trashed Hal­i­fax has thrown out plans for a new Ot­ter Lake com­mu­nity fund. Staff ar­gued the idea—cash for pub­lic im­prove­ments per ton­nage of waste pro­cessed at the land­fill—went against pol­icy. His­tor­i­cally, sim­i­lar funds have only been used on new projects (like Har­bour So­lu­tions) or ex­pand­ing old projects (like the Sackville dump). Since the pro­vin­cial Ot­ter Lake Act sets the land­fill’s cell heights in stone, ex­pan­sion isn’t a pos­si­bil­ity.

Gaslight­ing A po­ten­tial $25-mil­lion con­tract for the city’s fuel needs has been de­ferred be­cause of staff’s brevity. The multi-year agree­ment to pay High­land Fuel, Blue­wave En­ergy and the Irv­ings close to $12 mil­lion an­nu­ally for heat­ing oil, propane, diesel and gaso­line only war­ranted a two-page re­port. “It’s al­most em­bar­rass­ing to have so lit­tle in­for­ma­tion,” said Shawn Cleary. “There’s no way I can vote with­out ac­tu­ally know­ing what the heck we’re vot­ing on.” Staff will re­turn in two weeks with more info on the joint-ten­der of­fer, which is ex­pected to save Nova Sco­tia $14.25 mil­lion an­nu­ally by let­ting the prov­ince and its mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties buy in bulk.

In-cam­era se­crets Coun­cil met be­hind closed doors late in the day for a ver­bal up­date on an uniden­ti­fied per­son­nel mat­ter. Tues­day was the first coun­cil meet­ing since the city also fired its plan­ning direc­tor, Bob Bjerke, two weeks ago. The sud­den staffing change by CAO Jac­ques Dubé came as a sur­prise to sev­eral coun­cil­lors and mayor Mike Sav­age. No word on if Tues­day’s meet­ing is re­lated.

Pay to spay Fe­line ad­vo­cate Stephen Adams made some last-minute al­ter­ations to the city’s pro­posed spay and neuter pro­gram for feral cats. The coun­cil­lor con­vinced his col­leagues to vote down an ad­min­is­tra­tive or­der that would have given $50,000 a year to any char­ity work­ing with HRM’s wild cats, and in­stead put for­ward a mo­tion to di­rect that money solely to the SPCA. The SPCA has al­ready been run­ning a sim­i­lar spay and neuter pi­lot project, and Adams says the di­vi­sive lo­cal cat or­ga­ni­za­tions are all on board. “This is the first time in my mem­ory that the cat res­cue groups are all on the same page.” A vote on the mat­ter was de­ferred un­til coun­cil’s next meet­ing.

Rails to trails Staff will look into se­cur­ing land be­tween Wind­sor Junc­tion and Hantsport in hopes of turn­ing an un­used rail­way into an ac­tive trans­porta­tion route. Deputy mayor Steve Craig put for­ward the re­quest, which was born out of Hal­i­fax’s own green­way plans, along with talks al­ready oc­cur­ring be­tween lo­cal trail or­ga­ni­za­tions and of­fi­cials in Hants County.

Li­brary’s new life There’s fi­nally some hope for the old Spring Gar­den Road Li­brary. Coun­cil en­dorsed Waye Ma­son’s re­quest for a staff re­port on for­mally with­draw­ing HRM’s of­fer to re­turn the derelict prop­erty back to the prov­ince, and in­stead pur­sue other po­ten­tial pub­lic uses for the site. Ma­son said sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions have been “kick­ing the tires” on us­ing the space, but so far no one has come for­ward with an ex­e­cutable plan. “What we need is money on the ta­ble so we can give some­body the keys.”

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