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Coming to Halifax council: Cornwallis report, Nova Scotia Nature Trust

Halifax city staff are currently working with Halifax Regional Police to determine whether photo radar systems would increase safety on municipal roads.
Halifax city staff are currently working with Halifax Regional Police to determine whether photo radar systems would increase safety on municipal roads. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Halifax Regional Council is back on Tuesday and councillors have a full agenda on their plate.

Here’s what you can expect at the July 21, 2020, edition of Halifax council.

Edward Cornwallis task force report

The biggest topic — and what will likely be one of the most controversial — is the report from the Task Force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History.

Edward Cornwallis, Halifax’s founder, is known for putting a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps in 1749 while governor of Nova Scotia.

Read more: Cornwallis task force recommends renaming, investing

The report is the conclusion of a process that began in 2018 when the Halifax Regional Municipality drew national attention when council decided to remove a statue of Cornwallis from a downtown park that also bears his name.

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As Global News reported last week, the report calls on the city to sever its ties with its founder and issues a list of 20 recommendations.

Suggestions include renaming streets and parks named after the controversial colonizer, supporting youth activities that recognize Indigenous heritage, and distributing copies of the report in schools and libraries throughout the region.

Staff have recommended that council agree or agree in principle with all of the recommendations in the report and that they direct the municipality’s CAO to provide annual updates on progress addressing the recommendations.

Click to play video 'Cornwallis Street name being revisited' Cornwallis Street name being revisited
Cornwallis Street name being revisited – Jan 22, 2019

We Day contribution

A number of special event grants are up for a vote on Tuesday, and although many will likely conclude with a simple vote, there is one topic that could prompt some interesting discussion.

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Municipal staff are recommending that council approve a $20,000 grant in support of a virtual WE Day in Atlantic Canada.

However, as a result of the recent and still ongoing scandal involving the WE charity, that vote may not turn out to be so simple.

Click to play video 'Ethics watchdog expands WE Charity investigation to include finance minister' Ethics watchdog expands WE Charity investigation to include finance minister
Ethics watchdog expands WE Charity investigation to include finance minister – Jul 17, 2020

Nova Scotia Nature Trust

Councillors will decide whether to help the Nova Scotia Nature Trust acquire a key piece of property within the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lake wilderness area.

Municipal staff recommend councillors reject the request for a $750,000 contribution from the nature trust, despite there being “merit” to the request.

That decision, at least according to the report, results from the municipality’s strained financial situation due to COVID-19.

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“The financial situation as a result of Covid-19 means not only are this year’s revenues impacted, but the future is unknown,” the report reads.

“Until there is a better understanding of the municipality’s finances on a longer term, it is recommended that Regional Council not approve the request from the Nature Trust.”

Read more: Halifax land secured for large wilderness park with two lakes, hiking trails

The trust is banking on the $750,000 to help fund the purchase of 232 hectares from a private landowner. The land is located between two areas that the province has designated as the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove lakes wilderness area.

The cost of the purchase is $2,525,250 and the municipality would bear the largest burden of the proposed funding.

The $750,000 from the municipality would be in addition to $500,000 from the Canada Nature Fund; $200,000 in provincial assistance; $500,000 from the Nova Scotia Crown Land Legacy Fund; $414,000 in a land donation; and $161,250 in public fundraising.

If councillors decide to provide the funding to the Nature Trust, staff recommend using the municipality’s Parkland Reserve as it can be used for the acquisition of parkland for public purposes.

Read more: Coun. Lorelei Nicoll announces end to 12-year municipal politics career in Halifax

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Click to play video 'Artists Rally to Help Nature Trust Save Blue Mountain Urban Wilderness' Artists Rally to Help Nature Trust Save Blue Mountain Urban Wilderness
Artists Rally to Help Nature Trust Save Blue Mountain Urban Wilderness – Feb 6, 2020

Municipal election looms

The municipal election is growing closer and that means the municipality is beginning preparations.

Council needs to vote on the distribution of mailout cards in order to promote the 2020 HRM and CSAP election scheduled for Oct. 17.

Staff are recommending that the council vote to provide notification to voters in the municipality through postcards, notifying them that the preliminary list of electors has been prepared.

Municipal staff are also recommending that council push back the end of the period that would allow residents to contact the municipality’s voter help centre to ensure that their information is correct ahead of the official list of electors being finalized.

The proposed end date is Aug. 21.

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There should be relatively little discussion on this topic as any costs associated with the project are already part of the elections budget.

Council is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

— With files from Global News Elizabeth McSheffrey