Coming to Halifax council: Smoking ban, Halifax Convention Centre, diversity review

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

Halifax Regional Council is back after a nearly month-long break.

They’re set to revisit a number of hot-button topics from previous council meetings, including a possible smoking ban and the Nova Centre’s business plan.

Here are some of the highlights heading to council on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Halifax council resigned to pay Nova Centre payments

Halifax Convention Centre business plan

The Halifax Convention Centre is once again in front of regional council on Tuesday.

Council is set to examine the 2018-2019 Events East business plan and budget on Tuesday, marking the second full year of operation for the convention centre.

A city staff report accompanying the budget recommends that council pass the business plan.

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This is despite the convention centre being budgeted to operate at a loss of $4.1 million.

Halifax will be responsible for covering half of that figure ($2.06 million) as a result of a 50-50 cost-sharing agreement with the province.

WATCH: How smoking prohibition will negatively impact society’s most vulnerable

Click to play video: 'How smoking prohibition will negatively impact society’s most vulnerable' How smoking prohibition will negatively impact society’s most vulnerable
How smoking prohibition will negatively impact society’s most vulnerable – Aug 1, 2018

Council urged to keep tobacco in smoking ban

After Halifax councillors flip-flopped on banning the smoking of tobacco and cannabis on public property, city staff are recommending that a bylaw amendment approved nearly two months ago remain the same.

At a council meeting on July 31, council voted 11 to five in favour of directing staff to create a report and a new draft of its nuisance bylaw excluding tobacco from its ban on smoking in the municipality’s public places.

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That staff report is headed to council on Tuesday and recommends that the nuisance bylaw keep its prohibition of smoking any substance, including tobacco and cannabis.

The report’s recommendation is based off the “public health implications of smoking” and the “prosecution implications of limiting the prohibition to cannabis.”

READ MORE: Halifax’s new smoking and cannabis bylaws to be in place by Oct. 1

Staff cite Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief public health officer, who says non-smoking regulations can reduce rates of smoking in the general population.

The report says that restricting the bylaw to a single substance such as cannabis will make enforcement more difficult. It suggests courts may require some level of “scientific analysis” that the substance is, in fact, prohibited.

However, if council does decide to restrict the ban to only cannabis, staff is recommending they add a provision in the bylaw permitting a judge to allow a witness to testify that a potential offender has smoked cannabis.

City staff also wish to change the name of the Nuisance Bylaw to the Nuisance and Smoking Bylaw and are recommending the removal of the word “weed” in the bylaw in favour of the phrase “cannabis plant.”

READ MORE: Halifax learned of diversity problem 2 years ago, but workers say little has changed

Council to discuss update on city racial discrimination report

Council is also set discuss the update of a 2016 report on racial discrimination in the workplace that has found one in five recommendations made in the initial report are currently “at risk,” or unresolved.

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The Employment Systems Review, conducted by Turner Consultant Group, was once confidential before it became public at a protest outside city hall in May. The update was later published online after a motion was passed by council in June.

“The overwhelming opinion of the African Nova Scotian employees with whom we spoke is that they have experienced incidents of harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” the original report reads.

The update found that of the 90 recommendations made in the report, 63.3 per cent are complete, 12.2 per cent are on track and 18.9 per cent are at risk.

“Recommendations marked ‘at risk’ require immediate attention in order to clear the path so necessary actions can ensue,” the update reads.

At least four of the “at risk” recommendations are related to reference checks during the application process that “assess the job candidate’s ability to work effectively in a diverse workforce and with a diverse client population.”

After the heavily publicized finding of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that there was a “poisonous work environment” at Halifax Transit, expect this report to be discussed extensively.

READ MORE: Matt Whitman taking it ‘day-by-day’ as he recovers from a broken leg, dislocated shoulder from crash

Whitman set to be in council despite injuries

Matt Whitman, councillor for Hammonds Plains, is expected to attend council on Tuesday after breaking multiple bones in his leg, dislocating his shoulder and suffering multiple cuts and bruises in a motorcycle crash in August.

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Whitman missed the Aug. 14 meeting of council as a result of the crash.

He told Global News soon after the crash that he was taking it day-by-day.

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