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City Hall round-up

Halifax council meets for 12 hours, does a few things.

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An artist's rendition of the rebuilt Fenwick Tower
  • An artist's rendition of the rebuilt Fenwick Tower

Halifax council met for 12 hours Tuesday, dealing with a handful of weighty issues, mostly by kicking them down a road a piece.

First, council reviewed a consultant’s report on transit options for connecting the Bedford-Hammond’s Plains area to downtown; the report compared commuter rail, fast ferries and express buses. Bottom line: either option might have some success, but it’ll take lots and lots of money, and maybe 20 years, to get any of them up and running.

Councillors fell over themselves praising transit as the only sensible transportation strategy, an odd stance for a group that just last week approved an $18 million highway underpass and which in recent years has OKed about $100 million in suburban highway infrastructure. Regardless, staff was directed to further explore all three options, and council committed itself to talking about them some more over the course of the next year.

Next, council heard an interminably boring three-hour staff presentation on “corporate plan outcome areas,” with councillor Steve Streatch joking that he would rather be at a “Chinese water torture session.” But councillors were polite, smiled when appropriate and accepted the tedium with something resembling grace.

In the evening, the public weighed in on a development proposal for Fenwick Tower, which calls for expanding and re-facing the structure and adding nearby eight- and 10-storey buildings. Some nearby residents thought this was a wonderful idea; others said it would destroy the neighbourhood. Council agreed with the former, so construction should start soon.

Later, council debated whether and for how much the Armour Group, developers of the Waterside Centre, should be given an easement under Water Street for a pipe. The issue is complex, and blown out of all reasonable proportion on all sides. The most interesting thing about the debate was councillor’s Sue Uteck’s reaction when mayor Peter Kelly stepped out of his usual role as chair and expressed an opinion on the matter: “Un-fucking-believable,” Uteck said into her mic, employing language usually reserved for alt weeklies.

But councillors shrugged off the offence and called it a day.

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