Council Update: Public Wifi, Canal Greenway, Low-Income Transit Pass

February 7, 2017

Wifi: Council passed public wifi 9-8. I voted against the proposal. My main reason is that the geographic coverage was originally much larger and the areas it was reduced down to already have some wifi access. $2.6 million for a very limited network with no certainty as to how, when and what the cost would be to expand it into something more useful. Also, there were no partners at the table with any concrete contributions (WDCL, Dalhousie, Port, BIDs etc). I think we would have been better off to put the $2.6 million we’re going to spend on wifi over the next five years towards Downtown streetscaping projects. Streetscaping ranked much higher in terms of impact in the original Downtown Report. Wifi was pursued because it was supposed to be cheap and expansive, but what we’re getting is expensive and limited. I’m not against the concept, but I don’t think we’re getting good value here. I will wait to see if we can turn this into something more useful in the years ahead. I would like to see wifi on transit and in public housing. That to me would be much more useful.

Tender for Canal Greenway. This is for landscaping around the Power House replica (that big building at Prince Albert and Pleasant Street). The Canal Greenway is still very much a work in progress with work to come on daylighting Sawmill River and the Trans Canada Trail. Still, it’s nice to see this work planned for the coming season.

Low-Income Transit Pass: Expanded the pilot for another year and increased the number of eligible participants to 1,000. I introduced a motion to amend the bylaw to allow HRM to remove anyone who doesn’t buy a pass after 6 months. During the pilot, 15% of those who signed up never followed through with buying a pass, which meant that 75 spaces ended up being of no use to anyone. This would help minimize that waste by ensuring that unused spaces can be offered to someone else for at least part of the year.


Other noteworthy stuff that passed today: (1) Community Facilities Master Plan, (2) LiDAR Data for the whole of HRM, (3) tender for a new mobile command unit for the Fire Department, (4) funding for tourism marketing on the Eastern Shore and (5) rodent control requirements for construction sites.