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Council to explore making open street events more affordable

A staff report on ways to reduce costs to come



Council's work to help support open street events is now in motion. Councillor Sam Austin requested this week for the city to find ways to help support and reduce the costs of policing and street closures for these events.

Austin says open street events provide a lot of value in his district, and thinks it could do even more. The report will hopefully help lower the costs of these events, like policing, which for Switch Dartmouth is a third of its cost, says Austin.

Switch Dartmouth and Halifax are the largest open street events in the city. Kieran Stepan is the director of operations at the planning and design centre in Halifax, which organizes Switch events. She agrees the city needs to help reduce the costs of these events in the future. "It's a major issue for our events, the cost of street closure is a barrier for us."

Stepan wants the city to know just how expensive the costs are to close the streets and have police on site. "Our Dartmouth event is about $10,000 to close the street," she says. "As an organization who has a small budget to pay for this, it's a struggle. Our Halifax event is $15,000, even though it's free for us to close Argyle."

Past requests for support were sent to the province. Council asked the province to change the Motor Vehicle Act to allow for traffic control personnel to close streets for special events. The province was concerned about the training needed in order to manage these types of events and refused to amend the act.

Councillors also mentioned whether this should include future parades and street parties happening in the city. Austin hopes the city can create a possible grant program to help these events or subsidize policing costs in the future.

Council supported the motion, so staff will report back on options for the city to help support and reduce the cost for future open street events.

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