Council quick hits
Planner’s exit an unknown impact to Centre Plan, Ticket Atlantic profits need to go to the city and racism update’s delay a “slap in the face.”
Jacob Ritchie’s exit
Mayor Mike Savage says he’s not sure what impact the departure of urban planner Jacob Ritchie will have on the Centre Plan’s timeline. Ritchie’s been shepherding the new planning bible through a slow, often-delayed approval process for the past few years. He’s leaving city hall behind this week to head up the school board-replacing Halifax Regional Centre for Education, just as the long-awaited Centre Plan nears some sort of finish line. “We don’t keep people forever. That’s just a fact of life,” says Savage. The mayor has faith, however, that HRM’s remaining planning stars will finish the work Ritchie started. “We are supposed to be running our business in a way that nobody is indispensable. I think we’ll be OK.”
Big ticket item
Halifax will look into reclaiming the Scotiabank Centre’s box office. Ticket Atlantic is currently the sole provider for ticketing at the HRM-owned facility, but any profits from those ticket sales go to the province and not the city. It’s been that way ever since former Trade Centre Limited president Fred MacGillivray “transferred ownership” of the operation from Halifax to TCL (now Events East) without council’s authority or approval. “The money goes to the province right now,” said Waye Mason, on his motion to look at taking back the box office. “I think it should probably come to us.” The deputy mayor is hopeful both HRM and Events East can have “a big adult discussion” about the matter and figure out a way forward.
Slap in the face
Councillor Lindell Smith asked for an update way back in December on HRM’s efforts to address egregious racial discrimination in the workplace. But it was only after workers protested in front of City Hall in May that the report was fast-tracked. “Which to me, was almost a slap in the face,” Smith said during Tuesday’s update on the issue. “It took protesters for us to get this report when it was already asked for a year ahead of time. I just think, as a municipality, it looks more reactive than proactive.” Human resources director Catherine Mullally assured the councillors that much progress has been made on employee equity. We’ll see next week when the first quarterly public report on racism, sexism and harassment in HRM’s workplace is brought to council.
During the aforementioned racism talk, Richard Zurawski buzzed in with a question about water conservation. The councillor presumably had zoned out and didn’t notice a prior presentation from Halifax Water was already over. Later, during a routine agenda item on debt financing, the eco-conscious Zurawski suddenly questioned HRM’s streetlight conversion project, which is nearing completion after three years. “Would it not be cheaper just to leave the streetlights as they are rather than switch them over to LEDs?” Zurawski ended his day announcing he wants a staff report on creating a “social impact lens” to guide municipal decisions. It’s virtually identical to Lindell Smith’s request last December to implement a “social policy lens.” Council will sort it all out at next week’s meeting.
Councillors (from left) Waye Mason, Lindell Smith and Richard Zurawksi, in happier times.