Reversing direction from last week, Halifax council this morning voted to approve the Chebucto Road widening project. Construction crews are expected to start work almost immediately.
The council's action came through a series of three votes:
First, councillor David Hensbee put forward a motion of reconsideration. Councillor Sheila Fougere objected to the motion on procedural grounds, but the council's attorney ruled that even though the move violated the letter of council's procedural manual, it was consistent with actual practice (more on this later). Sixteen "yea" votes were needed, and Hensbee's motion passed on a 16- 6 recorded vote.
Second, council than voted 16-6 to "agendize" the reconsideration. That vote was also recorded.
Third, having the matter agendized, council then re-considered the original motion from last week--- the tender to pay for the work. A voice vote was taken, with no record taken, and the motion passed.
Since there is no recorded vote on the actual road widening vote from this week, we can only surmise that those councillors who voted for the first two motions had also voted for the third.
Those councillors who voted "no" last week, but voted in favour of the project this week are:
Council is meeting all day today, and into the evening. I'll attempt to corner at least some of these councillors and find out what induced them to change their vote.
Those who voted yes both weeks are:
Councillors Steve Streach and Harry McInroy were absent last week but voted for the project today.Councillor Gloria McCluskey voted for the project last week but was absent today.Councillor Sue Uteck voted against the project last week but was absent today.
My initial take is that city staff obviously had worked the council, and got what they wanted in the end. Certainly, transportation director Dave McCusker was hovering around council chambers all morning, and he and CAO Dan English had a series of conversations immediately before and after the vote.
More on this as it develops.