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COMING TO COUNCIL: Municipal racism discussion, Gottingen Transit Corridor and Halifax Green Network

During its next meeting, Council will have its first public discussion about racism within municipal operations after a 2016 consultants report
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Halifax City Hall (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

HALIFAX – Halifax Regional Council is set to have its first public discussion about progress on addressing racism within the municipal ranks.

A report by Turner Consulting was given to Council in 2016 with 90 recommendations to address ‘anti-black racism’ within the Municipal Operations Department, along with unchecked sexism and homophobia.

An information report from staff to update the progress of those recommendations was given to Councillors before their last meeting and Councillor Matt Whitman successfully motioned for a public discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.

The report indicates the completion rate on the 90 recommendations is at just over 60 per cent with roughly 20 per cent, or 17 in total, in danger of not being completed at all.

A number of the completed recommendations surround different forms of training, as the staff report notes 40 supervisors had completed diversity training while over 80 employees had taken part in a ‘Cultural Proficiency Session.’

Some ‘at-risk’ recommendations include diversity training for managers on ‘unconscious bias;’ how it can impact the hiring process and how to minimize that impact. Another advised verification managers were indeed hiring based on skills and qualifications, “not personality or cultural background.”

Tuesday’s discussion will be the first to happen in public, as before June, updates happened during the ‘in-camera’ portion of Council or behind closed doors.

Gottingen Street Transit Corridor

The proposed Gottingen Street bus lane will come to Council for final approval Tuesday after some changes to the original plan at committee level.  

If approved by Council, work would begin this fall to put three lanes on Gottingen: one each for northbound and southbound traffic and one northbound lane for busses.

The original plan pitched by staff had the dedicated bus lane in place permanently but outcry from the business community about lost parking and loading spaces prompted a change to ‘peak-hours only.’

Committee voted last month to only allow the dedicated lanes on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which would mean parking and loading would be allowed during all other times.

Request to maintain peak transit service in North Beaver Bank

District 14 Councillor Lisa Blackburn will ask for a staff report at Tuesday’s meeting to look at the different options available to maintain transit service during peak in North Beaver Bank once the municipality’s ‘Moving Forward Together Plan’ comes into effect.

In her motion to be tabled Tuesday, Blackburn writes changes to Halifax Transit routes outlined in the plan means service is removed from Beaver Bank Road north of Kinsac Road. The new local ‘Route 89 Beaver Bank’ and ‘Route 189 Beaver Bank Express,’ scheduled to be implemented in 2020-2021, will also not provide peak service to this area and Blackburn says residents have been “very vocal” about maintaining service during peak times.

If Blackburn’s motion passes, staff’s report will outline the available options to maintain morning and afternoon service from Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre to Ivy Meadows Assisted Living Facility.

Halifax Green Network

The long-awaited Halifax Green Network Plan and its 80 recommendations will make its way to Regional Council Tuesday after being endorsed by committee last month.

If approved, the plan amends HRM’s regional plan to preserve open spaces, limiting the amount of development in designated areas. It also limits how far municipal service boundaries can be expanded.

The plan is expected to work in conjunction with the Centre Plan, the coming planning blueprint for the peninsula that outlines areas of development, along with the already approved Integrated Mobility Plan.

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