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Coming to Halifax council: CCTV use, Nova Centre and more cannabis by-laws

Halifax City Hall is seen on June 8, 2018. Alexander Quon/Global News

Halifax Regional Council is back on Tuesday and they have another full slate of proposals to consider.

Council also has three separate public hearings: amendments to the municipality’s development agreement for 31 and 33 Brewer Court, amendments to the Sackville land use by-law and a hearing on a 14-storey building on lands fronting Robie, Pepperell and Shirley Streets.

The hearings are scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.

It’ll be a long day, so here are some of the highlights that you can expect council to tackle.

Move to streamline council

One of the more unique proposals heading to regional council this week is a request by Sam Austin, Councillor for Dartmouth Centre.

He’s asking for a staff report on introducing consent agendas at regional council.

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A consent agenda would group routine business that doesn’t typically generate debate — such as procurement, request for a staff report, and first reading of bylaws — into a single motion.

According to Austin’s request, this would allow council to better focus on “items that require explanation and debate.”

Council could still move certain items off of the consent agenda if they wanted to, thereby allowing them to continue to have oversight.

According to Austin’s motion, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Saskatoon and Montreal already employ consent agendas at their municipal councils.

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Rubber stamp on Nova Centre business plan

The municipality is set to examine a 2018-2019 business plan for the the Halifax Convention Centre, known as the Nova Centre, as prepared by the company that operates the facility, Events East Group.

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According to the staff report prepared for council, the business plan was developed in consultation with the municipality and provincial government.

The two levels of government are 50/50 partners in the convention centre.

This will be the first time that municipal councillors will discuss the Nova Centre’s business policy since it was revealed in a staff report that the reserve fund they created to cover transition costs will be running a $17.8-million deficit within 10 years.

Municipal staff are recommending in their staff report that council move to approve the business plan.

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Mobile Food Market funding

Regional council is set to look at extending funding for the Mobile Food Market until at least 2021.

The Mobile Food Market,  a fresh produce grocery store on wheels, was created in 2016 to address food insecurity in the HRM.

The market uses a Halifax Transit bus to bring fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables to communities throughout the municipality.

Councillors are being asked to approve the municipality’s continued support of the program.

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Some of the specific recommendations include directing staff to look at the option of donating an HRM vehicle to the program in the 2019-20 fiscal year and asking for a staff report in the 2020-21 fiscal year on funding the project into the future.

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Policy on CCTV on Halifax municipal property

Halifax has been operating without a policy governing the use of closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) on municipal property — but if council passes a motion on Tuesday, that will change.

According to a municipal staff report on the administrative order, the purpose of the proposed policy is to provide guidelines for the use of CCTV on Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) property, including its transit system.

Without a defined process, staff say that various municipal business units have installed CCTV cameras without “appropriate consultation.”

The new policy clearly outlines when and where CCTV may be used — primarily to enhance the security and safety of municipal employees.

The policy also states that systems will be designed in a way that minimizes privacy intrusions.

If passed, the policy will not apply to Halifax Regional Police as they are governed by another piece of municipal policy.

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Cannabis and the municpality’s land use by-laws

Halifax will look to finish off its creation of a municipal framework regulating cannabis on Tuesday.

The move comes after council’s decision earlier this month to modify its smoking bylaw was met with a mixed response by consumers and business people.

A staff report heading to council details the last set of by-law amendments coming to council ahead of federal legislation coming into effect that that will legalize consumption of cannabis.

The amendments will add a definition of cannabis production facility to the municipality’s land-use by-law, effectively allowing them to be monitored in a similar manner to existing industrial facilities in the HRM.

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The report also details that at least three development permits have been issued for proposed medical cannabis production facilities in the HRM.

— With files from Rebecca Lau

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