The Chebucto Road widening project was supposed to be a done deal. Regional council debated it, approved it, funded it. On Monday, our reporter Chris Benjamin submitted his copy for this week’s paper, an article about how the residents along Chebucto Road were dealing with the loss of their properties (either the strip along the road, or in some cases the entire house). The bulldozers were ready to go, and word was that the work could begin as soon as Thursday.
But today, the anti-widening faction on council won a huge victory, and now the widening project may not happen at all. How’d they do it? They counted votes.
At issue was what should have been a simple procedural matter, approving the tender for the widening--- $2,080,619.14 awarded to Basin Contracting Company for the widening project and associated intersection and other work. But not so fast...
New councillor Tim Outhit joined the anti-widening side, raising their number to 11. Because councillors Steve Streatch and Harry McInroy didn’t think it was important to show up at the meeting, the anti- side also had only 10 votes. The motion to award the contract was defeated, effectively stopping the bulldozers.
It's not entirely clear what happens now. According to council's rules of procedure (bottom of page 24), a motion to reconsider must either have a 2/3 council approval (which clearly won't happen in this case) or must wait two months to be tabled. Councillors are of different opinions as to what happens after two months-- some think that the entire tender process must start anew, which means advertising the work, accepting and grading the bids, etc.; that process would derail the work until cold weather and, probably, until after the October election, in which case it's anybody's guess what will happen. Others, though, thought the work could go ahead as planned just two months from now.
And, as I was leaving council chambers, deputy CAO Wayne Amsteyu cryptically told me that "the work may yet happen," but didn't elaborate. No doubt staff will try to wiggle out of this setback.
Regardless, this just underscores how important it is for councillors to show up to meetings. Should the project be killed, those who support the Chebucto Road widening should put the blame squarely on Steve Streatch and Harry McInroy.
Of course, The Coast remains solidly against the project.
Stay tuned for further updates.