Committee votes for slightly smaller council

Wants reduction from 23 to 20

A subcommittee of Halifax council today voted to make the council smaller-- by just three members.

The Governance & Boundary Review Committee passed the following motion:

MOVED by Councillor Mosher, seconded by Councillor Dalrymple that Halifax Regional Council be reduced to 20 Councillors plus the Mayor with four Community Councils made up of five Districts.
That motion now goes to the full council, probably in June.

This afternoon, I spoke with councillor Gloria McCluskey, who sits on the committee and was present at the meeting. As she relates, councillor Reg Rankin stood up and said that he'd like to have a council of 15 members, but that wouldn't be acceptable to the full council, so he moved a council of 19 members. According to McCluskey, councillor Linda Mosher then asked for 20 members, so there could be four community councils of five members each. That was the motion that passed.

McCluskey had harsh words for Rankin. "If he wanted 15 members, he should've moved 15 members," she said. "But he didn't want much of a change, because his district is safe." McCluskey went on to explain that Rankin's district (Timberlea), along with councillor Barry Dalrymple's district (Fall River--Dalrymple voted for the motion as well), have about 20,000 residents in them, compared to 15-16,000 in urban districts. "They'll make fewer urban districts," said McCluskey. It's her contention that urban councillors have more constituency work than rural councillors, because there are more traffic issues and so forth.

McCluskey herself is ambivalent on council size, saying that the real issue is cost, not size. "Before amalgamation, we had 64 councillors, and it cost less than 23 are costing us now," she said, referring to all the elected reps in the old cities of Dartmouth and Halifax, the town of Bedford, and the county of Halifax.

"If people think this [making council smaller] is going to save money, they're crazy," said McCluskey.

Readers will recall that I've editorialized against reducing the size of council.

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