Halifax Regional Council is back and in business on Tuesday after a two-week break as they examine a number of proposals.
However, the most important discussion this week will likely happen outside of the regular council schedule as municipal councilors prepare to debate the final pieces of the 2020/2021 budget.
That discussion will wrap up before the council agenda kicks off. Here’s what you can expect to see on Tuesday.
Halifax Forum redevelopment to cost as much at $86-million
Halifax municipal council has known for quite some time that the Halifax Forum requires a much-needed facelift.
On Tuesday, a report looking at the preliminary plans for renovating the complex is set to come before council and it brings with it a price tag that ranges between $70-million and $86-million.
Part of the costs comes from the building’s unique status as a heritage building.
The Forum, which includes two hockey rinks and multi-purpose spaces, was completed in 1927. It was registered as a heritage building in 2003.
“A thorough review of the entire complex determined that based on the condition of the facility and limitations associated with the structure and grades, it is not able to meet current standards for service delivery, reliability and accessibility,” the report reads.
Council’s other options would not be that much cheaper; building a replica of the Forum would cost approximately $69.7-million and building a generic two-ice surface arena would come in at about $63.8-million.
Renovation of the Forum would be considered a substantial alteration of heritage property and would require another council approval after input from the municipality’s heritage advisory committee.
Staff with the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are recommending that the council redevelop the building due to the heritage value of the property, the similar costs of tearing everything down and starting from scratch and the “inconsistency with municipal policy and provincial legislation” if they were to tear it down.
Funding for Downtown Dartmouth Ice Festival
Halifax council will look at a request from Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, at helping to fund the 2020 version of the Downtown Dartmouth Ice Festival.
The motion asks for a staff report on whether the HRM will provide funding to the event, the brainchild of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission (DDBC).
Austin’s request describes the 2019 event as a “success that wildly exceeded” the commission’s expectations
Even with the bitter cold, thousands attended and they’re hoping for a repeat this year. The DDBC want to hold a two-day $65,000 event and have already received $25,000 in funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
Austin is asking that council direct staff to take a second look at providing funding for the growing festival, scheduled for Feb. 7 to Feb. 9, 2020.
House-cleaning on single-use plastic bag ban
Halifax council will look at wrapping up its proposed plan to draft a bylaw to ban single-use plastic bags.
The motion to work with the province’s 10 largest municipalities to create a ban was introduced in January. But Nova Scotia’s decision to introduce their own legislation in Oct., makes the deal moot.
As a result, Deputy mayor Tony Mancini will introduce a motion to rescind its vote from earlier this year. It will require two-thirds of councillors support but at this point should be a simple house-cleaning issue.
Council to choose new deputy mayor
Mancini’s one-year term as deputy mayor is set to come to an end and council will select one of its members to serve as deputy mayor.
The councillor for Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East, was acclaimed to the position after he was the only councillor to put his name forward last year.
The deputy mayor is chosen from among the municipality’s 16 regional councillors and the role brings with it additional duties as well as a 10 per cent pay increase over other councillors.
Council will get underway once the 2020/2021 budget committee wraps up its meeting. That committee is set to begin at 9:30 a.m., at Halifax City Hall on Tuesday.