Tomorrow’s council meeting will be dominated by a discussion “fiscal direction.” This is a complicated collection of different policies and political priorities, and I can’t do it justice without hearing the discussion first. So I’ll report back on that Wednesday. Other items of interest:
Free wifi downtown
Ten years too late, the city is looking to provide public wifi downtown.
Staff is suggesting that the cost of free (to users) wifi can be part of the $50 million council has agreed to spend on capital projects downtown. That’s all well and good, but rather than just spending the money to establish a free service, staff wants to nickel and dime the cost down by contracting it out, and whoever wins the tender will make a bunch of money on it by, yep, making the user experience intolerable:
The service provider will have the opportunity to generate revenue to support the service and reduce municipal expenditure. This is commonly done through on-line advertising, digital signage, brand marketing, and collection and sale of analytics, all subject to guidelines HRM will establish.
No thanks. I don’t need any more advertising or data tracking in my life. I’ll continue to use the free wifi provided by businesses (I’m writing this at Midpoint, and will follow up either at the Shoe or Stillwell), or pay for it myself via my personal hot spot.
Still more advertising
Not content with forcing advertising upon the citizenry without their consent at municipal facilities (see “eyeball tax,” at the bottom of this Morning File), using city arenas as billboards for usurious banks, or bombarding us with advertising via the proposed downtown wifi system, council is also considering approving advertising basically everywhere in the suburbs: signs in empty lots, ads wrapping around light posts in parking lots, and sandwich boards all over the place.
The film Minority Report envisioned a nightmare society in the near-future where people are targeted by advertising at every conceivable point in their lives. It got the spiders wrong—the spying machines will be drones, not land-based—and the precrime unit is still being assembled, but otherwise the film was dead-on.
Good job, Halifax, making the dystopia real.
Africville dog park replacement
It looks like the Africville dog park issue is heading towards resolution. As I reported in July, an initially contentious public meeting over the issue simmered down when nearly all present agreed that moving the dog park over to the Mainland Common was a sensible compromise that almost everyone liked. Staff has put together a report which will make that move happen, should council agree.
The new dog park will be in this area, south of the artificial sports fields and Westridge Ball Field:
The grassy section of the area can be ready for the end-of-year deadline council had set for a replacement park, but the forested area won’t be ready until spring, because a fence and other improvements will have to be constructed. Those costs will be included in the annual city budget, which council deals with in April.
I don’t think there will be much discussion on these issues, but you never know.
The Transportation Standing Committee has been discussing changing the building codes to require accessible door levers and bathroom fixtures in new housing. This shouldn’t be controversial, but people get worked up about stuff, and so the committee is moving slowly, asking building industry reps to sit on a committee to look at the proposal.
Councillor Gloria McCluskey wants to rant about gas leaks.
Councillor Reg Rankin wants the city to pay attention to the mystery walls in Bayers Lake.
There is an alternative path not chosen by the deep thinkers at City Hall, to understand advertising as a form of pollution, as in the brilliant case of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where billboards are banned:
I suspect that when the new library opens the Wi-Fi footprint will be pretty large and will cover quite a bit of the area around the library. You’ll need a library card to log in. The library has been expanding the range of Wi-Fi at branches over the last year or so.