Lake Banook Pollution Study: The most important piece on Council’s agenda for District 5 was the Lake Banook Pollution Study. The proposed study has come out of a motion I made back in September in response to the significant increase in beach closures at Birch Cove over the last three years. Closures have steadily increased over the last several years, peaking at half the season last summer. With all the recreational value that Lake Banook provides to our community, we need to find out what’s happening in the lake.
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The proposed study would sample locations throughout Banook and Mic Mac and source water entering the lakes to determine where the bacteria is present and where it’s coming from. The sampling would also identify the source (bird, dog, human) and provide recommendations on what to do. Council accepted the staff report and the Lake Banook study is on the budget options list alongside keeping the ferry hours. Dartmouth has a lot riding on Council’s deliberations on March 28. I’m hoping Council will fund the study.
Council Complaints: If you followed the news this week, the main item grabbing media attention was citizen complaints against councillors Cleary, Mason and Whitman under HRM’s Code of Conduct. Code of Conduct complaints are dealt with in camera, but that requirement can be waived if Council votes to do so and if the councillor that is subject to the complaint agrees. Whitman tried to move that all complaints be dealt with in public, but Cleary didn’t agree so Whitman’s motion was ruled out of order. Councillor Outhit then tried to move that Whitman’s complaints be dealt with in public, but Whitman wouldn’t consent unless all complaints were included so Outhit’s motion was also ruled out of order. With both attempts to deal with the complaints in public failing to get off the ground, Council proceeded to review the complaints in camera.
Council’s eventual decision was to dismiss the complaints against Cleary and accept the apologies that Mason had previously provided. Council did, however, find that Whitman had violated two sections of the Code of Conduct: 3(c), Standards of Conduct and (9) Release of Confidential Information. Council voted to censure Whitman and suspend him from HRM committees for a period of three months. I can’t discuss what was said in camera, but all in camera motions have to be ratified publicly. I was one of the 12 councillors who voted in favour of the public ratification of the motion. Hopefully this will prove to be a one-time thing and that Council won’t find itself back in this awkward spot of judging each other in the future.
Alcohol on Argyle: Another item that attracted some media attention was Council’s decision to list Argyle Street in Schedule A of HRM’s Alcohol Policy. All the addition of Argyle to Schedule A does is allow alcohol to be served when the street is closed for special events without organizers having to seek special permission from Council. Other municipal properties already listed in Schedule A include community centres, fire halls, rinks, some sports fields, Granville Mall, Sackville Landing, and DeWolfe Park. Council isn’t creating New Orleans North. You won’t be able to wander from bar to bar on Argyle, pitcher in hand any day of the week. What you might be able to do though is have a glass of wine or a beer when the street is closed for a special event. Honestly, it was much ado about not much of a change.
4-Pad Naming: HRM has received bids from its request for proposals for naming rights for the Dartmouth 4-Pad and Council voted on an award. The winning bid and name hasn’t been finalized yet and will be released to the public in the near future.
I voted for the deal on the 4-Pad, but I’m really conflicted when it comes to selling naming rights for public facilities. On one hand, it’s free money that otherwise wouldn’t be available to the municipality. But, on the other hand, we lose something of our civic soul in the process. We lose out on the ability to celebrate communities, events or prominent locals when we hand over naming rights. In all past naming right deals, the sponsor has contributed a small amount of money relative to the facilities actual cost. The Oval and its adjoining plaza, Metro Centre, and BMO Centre all bare the names of corporate sponsorship, but it’s the public that’s really paid for them. We live in a corporate age.
- Amended the Dartmouth Municipal Planning Strategy to allow for the garage at the corner of Victoria and Albro Lake to shift their operation into the existing strip mall on the same block of land
- Increased the contract award for repairs to the Alderney Landing wharf (work was carried out this summer but ended up $18,772 over budget)
- Initiated planning processes for a residential development in Fall River (Opportunity Site C), and an expansion of an existing construction waste transfer facility on Ross Road.
- Scheduled public hearings to consider allowing commercial and industrial uses in the Conrad Quarry lands in Waverley and to register the United Memorial Church on Kaye Street as a heritage property
- Amended the tax relief for non-profits bylaw to add organizations to the list (Fort Sackville Foundation, Ketch Harbour Residents Association), reinstate others (Kinsmen Club of Sackville, MacDonald House Association) and enhanced grants to another (Estabrooks Community Hall)
- Approved a request by Councillor Nicoll to review policing services in HRM
- Approved a request by Councillor Hendsbee for a staff report on reinstating a crosswalk by the Easthern Shore Memorial Hospital (rural crosswalks apparently need to be formally requested of the province)
- Created a program similar to Solar City to allow HRM to provide assistance for rural residents with inadequate wells
- Referred the funding request for a second HRM parade float to the budget committee on March 28