City-Hall1

The meeting starts at 1pm. I’ll be live-blogging via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer. Here are some of the bigger issues:

Tenders

Voith Canada Inc.—$1,348,912 for two propellers for a ferry. This is part of a plan to replace and expand the ferry fleet. The first new ferry in this plan, the Christopher Stannix, is now in service. The second, which will begin to be built next year, will replace the Dartmouth III. Each boat has two propellers, which take 11 months to be constructed, so these will be finished just as they’re needed for the new boat.


Governance

Sunshine list

City staff and city council are wringing their collective hands over a proposal first put forward by former councillor Jackie Barkhouse to align the city’s public reporting with the province’s requirement that public agencies like universities, hospitals, and crown corporations publicize the name and salary of each employee making over $100,000—the so-called “sunshine list.” To get to that point, staff is recommending that the city ask the province to designate the city and its dependent agencies (Water Commission, Library board, etc.) as named entities under the Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act.

No doubt, tomorrow we’ll see all sorts of ridiculous arguments about privacy, but this is just silly. Already, every provincial employee paid more than $25,000 is listed on the Public Accounts website, and has been since at least the 1990s. You can go to the site yourself and see how much your neighbour who works for the province makes.

As it should be. Public employees are paid with the public’s money, and so the public should have the right to access that information. It’s a quirk of history and bureaucracy-growing that there are a host of provincial agencies whose employees aren’t covered by Public Accounts—the payments to the agencies themselves are, however. Anyway, the province should extend the full accounting to all public agencies, whether crown corporations or city governments. Failing that, the city should start its own public accounts website mirroring the province’s, and list every salary and expense, and that should be the end of it.

The staff report mentions that there are about 300 city employees who make over $100,000. I don’t think this is necessarily a big deal. People should get paid well, and if they’re doing a job that requires that kind of salary, well, that’s a fair expense. If the salaries are defensible, defend them. If they’re not, change them. But by hiding behind a wall of secrecy and not publicizing these salaries, the city breeds distrust.

Council districts

The Utility and Review Board is conducting a review of the number of city councillors and the boundaries of council districts. You’ll recall that council was decreased from 23 to 16 members for the 2012 election.

Staff’s recommendation to council is that it tell the UARB that everything is working well enough, and there’s no reason to make anything but three very minor changes to the existing districts.

Powers of the Chief of Police

Since revisions to the Police Act in 1996, HRM’s four chiefs of police have been signing various documents committing the city to financial commitments, “some of which occur on a daily basis,” but apparently in violation of the city charter. To address that situation, staff is asking council to adopt changes in administrative orders that will make long-standing procedures legal.

Je ne parle pas Francais

Aider à faire Halifax une ville monde-cass, conseiller Darren Fisher rencontrera le français et manger des mégots de porc et boire du vin, en essayant de les convaincre de tenir des congrès ici.

Permanent residents

Likely, council will vote to ask the province to allow non-citizens with permanent residency to vote in city and school board elections.

I’m an immigrant who got permanent residency, and then citizenship. The path isn’t always simple, but is always time-consuming, and even more so due to bureaucratic cuts made by the Harper government.  Others may not want to get citizenship for personal or family reasons, but want to contribute to the community they live in. Allowing permanent residents to vote will perhaps make them feel more a part of the community, which may lead to them staying in Halifax.

Still, it’s all dependent on the province doing something, so council’s vote will probably be mostly symbolic.

Multicultural Advisory Committee

Councillor Linda Mosher wants to create a Multicultural Advisory Committee.


Garbage changes

The public hearing for proposed changes in the Solid Waste system will be held at 6pm. This is not for the very controversy proposal to extend the life of the landfill, but rather for more limited changes for how green waste is handled and to require clear garbage bags.


Naming stuff

Seven names will be added to the list of names that could be used for public streets or parks. Some are quite interesting:

Alvina Mae Perrier:

Mrs Perrier was born in West L’Ardoise in 1908. She and her husband raised their fifteen children on Lower Water Street, Halifax. Mr Perrier died just before the 15th child was born. Shortly after the death of her husband she received a gift of a Singer Sewing Machine from Ms Annie Dexter, a local radio host, who had heard of Mr Perrier’s passing and the number of children Mrs Perrier now had to look after.

Although Mrs. Perrier had many of her own children to look after she would receive bolts of flannelette from the Nuns at St Mary’s School which she would turn into diapers for struggling families in the neighbourhood. She made her children their winter jackets out of blanket coats purchased from the Army Navy Store. Any leftover material was used to make jackets for other neighbourhood children who needed a warm jacket.

Once Mrs. Perrier’s children were grown she went to work at St Thomas Aquinas housekeeping for the priests. After that she moved to St Patrick’s Parish where she worked with Father Joseph Mills. She assisted Father Mills with his endeavours for the homeless including getting Hope Cottage started.

In addition to her work with the homeless she also was involved in the L’Arche Movement. L’Arche is an international federation of faith-based communities creating homes and day programs with people who have developmental disabilities. Started by Jean Vanier in the 1960s, Mrs. Perrier became involved in the 1980s and was instrumental in developing a Halifax Charter. She helped organize many retreats at Mount St Vincent.

Harrison Eisenhauer:

Harrison Eisenhauer, sitting at far left with his family. Photo: Nova Scotia Archives.

Arthur Harrison Eisenhauer (most commonly known as Harrison) was born in 1885, the son of Samuel and Sarah Eisenhauer of Hammonds Plains.

In 1927 he was hired as a Forest Ranger (aka Game Warden) with the Provincial Forestry Department for the local Hammonds Plains area.

On November 29, 1931, while he and a colleague were checking on a complaint of Sunday hunting in the Kearney Lake area he was beaten by illegal hunters with the butt of a rifle. With serious head wounds, he was taken to the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax. He died while still in the hospital on December 12th and is buried in St Nicholas’ Anglican Cemetery in Hammonds Plains.

Following the death of Mr. Eisenhauer, murder charges were laid against 3 individuals.

Peter Saulnier:

Mr. Saulnier passed away in Spryfield in 2008 at the age of 61. He was a devoted Santa’s helper who portrayed Santa in the Spryfield Santa Clause Parade and the Spryfield Mall for 29 years. In 1990 Mr. Saulnier had collected many artifacts and photographs pertaining to the history of Spryfield and surrounding communities. In 1990 he was the founder of Mainland South Heritage Society and the local historian and genealogist. Local teachers called upon Peter to talk to their classes about the history of their communities. He constructed many miniature replicas of the local historical buildings of Spryfield, which are currently on display at the Captain William Spry Library. As well, he was an active member of the Maritime Civic War Living History Association and the Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield.

Ruth Goldbloom:

Ruth Goldbloom (b 1923) was a philanthropist who co-founded the Pier 21 museum in Halifax. She was born and raised in New Waterford, NS, to immigrant parents. Their immigrant experience influenced her throughout her life and was a major factor in her helping to found Pier 21. As Chair of the Pier 21 Foundation, Ruth raised $9 million in donations for the original restoration of Pier 21, and she spearheaded the $7 million Nation Builders Campaign. She became the first Jew to Chair Mount Saint Vincent University’s board, which was a Catholic women’s university at the time. She was the chancellor of the Technical University of Nova Scotia in the 1990s and fundraising chair for the Halifax area United Way.

Basil Landry:

Mr. Landry was born in 1933 and became a fire fighter. On October 1978 Mr. Landry, with the aid of his fellow fire fighters, but without the aid of his breathing apparatus, rescued a baby boy from a burning home on Federal Ave, Halifax. Upon arriving on the scene the crew was informed that there was someone trapped inside. Mr. Landry realized that there was no time to wait for a ladder to gain access to the building. Landry climbed up a trellis and onto a small overhanging porch roof. He then jumped from the roof and grabbed the rain gutter above. Hand over hand he moved his way along the gutter until he reached the window where a child was trapped. He broke the window with his helmet and climbed in. The room was completely black from the smoke. Landry felt his way around the room and found the crib. He managed to find the baby and gave it mouth to mouth as he attempted to exit via the window. When Landry reached the window his mates had a ladder in place and he handed the baby to firefighter Les Power.

Constable Charles Fulton:

Born in 1896, Fulton joined the Halifax Police Force at the age of 24. During the First World War he served overseas with field artillery. Because of his excellent record for service to his country, Fulton received the Military Medal.

At the young age of 28 Constable Fulton was shot while trying to apprehend a suspect on July 14, 1924.

Police were attempting to capture a bandit gang of thugs who had been terrorizing the city and suburbs. The battle began in the morning and raged on all day across the city. Every available police officer and constable in the city were sent out with orders to shoot to kill. One of the suspects was cornered near St. Thomas Aquinas School when he turns his gun on Constable Fulton, and instantly killed the policeman.

A 25 year old man was eventually taken into custody and confessed to the shootings. He had 3 accomplices a 21 year old male and two teenage girls.

Fulton was the first Halifax police officer killed in the line of duty.

Isabel Macneill:

Born in Halifax in 1908, Isabel showed an early interest in art, design, music and gardening. She was educated at Mount St Vincent Academy and the Nova Scotia College of Art before proceeding overseas for study at Heatherley’s in London. When World War II erupted Isabel immediately became involved. She helped organize a Service Canteen and later became Secretary of the Ajax Club (to improve the social life of the sailors stationed in Halifax). In 1942 Isabel enlisted in the Women’s Royal Canadian Navy Service. She was appointed commanding officer of the HMCS Comestoga with the responsibility of training 6,000 wrens. In recognition of her valuable service she was invested with the Order of British Empire in 1944.

Two years after Isabel resigned from the Navy, she was appointed Director of the Ontario Training School for girls with the task of training 1200 delinquent children. After six years she felt she had contributed all she could for these girls. The Navy, at this time, was requesting her return to the Royal Canadian Navy as a Commander R.C.N. Reserves on the Staff of the Chief of Personnel to assist in the creation of a permanent force of the R.C.N. Wrens. This assigned was completed in three years.

In 1959 she set out to explore the correctional facilities in various parts of Europe. On her return in 1960, she was appointed Superintendent of Canada’s Federal Prison for Women at Kingston, ON.

In 1966 she resigned her position and in 1967 she was requested by the Ontario Alcohol Drug Addiction and Research Foundation to do a short study of the narcotic addiction in Metro Toronto. After two years she compiled a report which advocated the treatment of those with narcotic addiction as sick people not as criminals. Miss Macneil was also a member of the Elizabeth Fry Society, a Council member of the Canadian Corrections Association and a member of the American Corrections Association.


The missing auditor general’s report

The auditor general’s report on the Washmill Underpass fiasco was initially supposed to be released in April. Eight months later, still no report. I’m told it’s being tied up by the city’s legal staff, which tells me this is going to be one “holy hell” report. An the more time that goes by, the worse the situation appears.

Tomorrow, council is going into secret session to discuss a “private and confidential report” produced by the Audit and Finance Committee and related to “A matter pertaining to an identifiable individual or group.” I’m not sure that this involves the Washmill report, but it sure looks like it.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. How is comparison of private and public the correct comparison? Private for profit pays workers less including because of profit and lower unionised rates plus you would have to compare educational levels etc. Assuming the labour market is merit based gender and race blind? More complex analysis might lead us to shine a light on some underlying issues.

  2. I sent the following to the Mayor and all Councillors,

    With respect to Dec 2nd, 2014 Regional Council Agenda Item 11.1.2
    SUBJECT: 3273 Prospect Road, PID 00377861, White’s Lake

    The recommendation to not acquire this property and consideration to also purchase the 2 much smaller adjacent properties to the east, for recreational and tourism purposes is flawed for the following reasons:
    1. No public engagement has occurred, so how was previous recreational usage determined?
    2. The property was popular for people to visit prior to the “No Trespassing” fence being erected.
    3. This site is popular for people to launch their kayaks and canoes or rowboats to go fishing and paddling.
    4. Boat launching usually occurred from the adjacent much smaller properties to the east, with parking on the subject property.
    5. A boat launch location could be easily be created on the subject property if the adjacent properties were not also acquired.
    6. Roadside access is equivalent to that of numerous businesses located along Prospect Road, so why is this site deemed a safety issue?
    7. The perceived difficulty accessing the property likely exists due to the temporary “No Trespassing” fence presently in place; without this fence, safe vehicle maneuvering is possible.
    8. A small community general-store was operated on this property for a number of years; parking safety was not an issue to prevent its operation.
    9. Plenty of room onsite for two picnic tables and adjacent vehicle parking.
    10. The view of the lake is exceptional at this location.
    11. Tourists have often stopped to view the lake, eat a picnic lunch, and then head onward to Peggy’s Cove.
    12. There has never been a safety incident at this site associated with seasonal water flow issues, that I am aware of.
    13. This is a “cold water” lake and few people ever swim in it, so a lifeguard station would not be required.
    14. Interpretive signage can be installed, directing swimmers to the mostly unknown Whites Lake Beach.
    15. Due to a lack of business development potential onsite, the property acquisition values should not be high.
    16. This property is not large, but it is a valued recreational resource that will require very little maintenance and upkeep.
    17. A smaller recreational potential does not make this property a worthless recreational site, or a bad investment.
    18. 3273 Prospect Road, Whites Lake , PID: 00377861, with an Assessed value: $38,100
    19. The assessed values of the adjacent properties are grossly higher that the properties are potentially worth, given their size and location.
    20. PID: 40813420, Assessed at: $11,400 and PID: 40846347, Assessed at: $22,900… the values are laughable.
    21. If the site(s) were acquired for recreational purposes, the site(s) would be used by the public.
    22. Once a community access point to a lake is lost, it is gone forever; it would be a shame for this to happen.

    All too often, development occurs around a lake for which community and local public access is limited. Few people who are not living on Whites Lake even know of the so called public beach that was mentioned in the report, there is next to no parking, and try to find it on a map or identified as a local recreational resource by HRM or anyone else for that matter. The 3273 Prospect Road property is best suited as cozy picnic site with small boat craft launching capabilities. Myself and others have often used this site prior to the fence being erected. The view from the site is indeed a tourist attraction and valued by others who visit from the outside the Whites Lake area.

    Please purchase this site and zone as park land; we will raise the money to put in the picnic tables, as a minimum.

    1. This will likely NEVER happen for one simple reason: Whenever something sensible and affordable is presented to Council, it FIRST has to be deferred until the Right People can get their oar in (ptp!). Viz.: Spirit Place, and many other worthy, and very sensible projects — BLOCKED because their proponents aren’t members of the Right People Club. «STAFF», with Council complicity has consistently blocked such projects because the Right People weren’t lined up with their hands out.

      OF COURSE this lovely and convenient spot should become a Public Access Point — but don’t hold your breath.

  3. The delay in releasing the AG report for so long while the CAO’s office has been reviewing it makes a mockery of the supposed independence of the AG.

  4. Over $5 million went to IMP Group/IMP Aerospace on the Sunshine list. Doesn’t Ken Rowe realize the province is nearly bankrupt?

  5. I’m curious what the justification is on the sole source tender for those props?

    Of course Voith Schneider is the only supplier of a Voith Schneider propeller. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voith_Schneider_Propeller

    I mean, they’re definitely ‘world-class’ for lack of a better term; but was the tender open to competing technologies? Or does that work differently somehow?

    To me it’s like saying “We’re purchasing aluminium uni-body laptops with a retina screen, of course; anyone is free to bid”

  6. Oh that list is so interesting.

    Look at Service NS, they paid 500k to a numbered company, nearly a millio on recruitment.

    Dept of transportation spends 4 million on bellaliant, 700k on office furniture..

    I need to get into government work!

  7. I am torn on the sunshine list. The it is public money the public has a right to know is valid. However here in NS we love to bash anyone who make a decent wage (nothing fails like success). 100 grand for significant management responsibilities is not out of line yet those who do a good job and make a proper wage will be castigated in the media. It could be said this is the price of public service, it could also be said this is why talented folks don’t want to be bothered with government work. What I would like to see is a list of those who work for the government who are making say 20% or more over the national average for their position. That would give more focus to areas that need sunshine. For those who make good money, do good work and live a good life we should pat them on the back and say good job.

    1. If they’re making significantly more then their private sector peers, they should be bashed in the media.

      If they’re not, there’s nothing to bash.

      The premier is the CEO of the province and makes somehing like $160k. Dick Butts makes like twice that running the city. Something doesn’t add up there, and I’m sure there are more.

      1. Arguably, the CAO’s job is tougher than that of the Premier and doesn’t come with the lifetime of easy money (board appointments, etc) that comes to high ranking provincial politicians after ‘retirement’.

        1. The average salary for a city manager is $88k. Dick Butts (sorry, I can’t fathom naming a kid that) makes comparable salary to Harper.

          Does he do more work than a supreme court judge at 222k?

          I guess salary just isn’t tied to economoc output at that point.

      2. Sr management in government don’t come close to earning what their private sector peers make but they will get bashed anyway. An average of city managers is a meaningless number, that includes managers for every tiny city in Canada.

      3. Based on what comparison? Where is the publicly-available information on what private sector employees make? This argument presumes that the public will make an informed, market based comparison. In reality, the public is simply given a context free list of salaries and asked to judge whether they seem fair.

        1. Well, picking one at random, the national average for the trades is $22.36, govt starts at $19.30 all the way up to $36.21

          Are there real numbers anywhere comparing public to private?

    2. SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE!!!
      WE, the taxpaying citizens are the Board of Directors and we have the RIGHT to KNOW upon whom our money is being showered.

      We delegate, via elections, and for the purpose of efficiency, hiring, firing, and daily operations to «councillors» who, in turn, delegate to CEOs and other high-priced management «experts». However they are ALL «responsible» to the taxpayer.

      ««He who pays the piper (SHOULD) call the tune…»»

      The day of the old Family Compact is still alive and well hereabouts: «we know what’s good for »you« err… US…» but it’s high time this paternalistic and patronizing attitude was confronted and ENDED.

      Those who want their Platinum Aggrandizements kept secret should find employment ELSEWHERE — starting with the egregious entitlements of the smoke & mirrors troughers (past and present) wallowing in their ridiculously rich rewards at Trade Centre UN-limited, Halifax Water, and Halifax Transit!