At Issue Briefing Note:
Municipal Boundary Review
The Halifax Regional Municipality recently underwent a review of the size and structure of City Council. The review conducted by a Committee of Council, following consultations with the community, recommended several options for change:
1. Status quo - 23 councillors
2. reduce council to either 16, 18 or 20 councillors
The Committee of Council brought forward these recommendations to City Council. Council voted on the proposed size and structure August 3, 2010, voting to maintain the Status quo.
Halifax undertook the last major District Boundary Review in 2003 and a limited review process was undertaken in 2007 in advance of the 2008 elections. In 2007 the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) ordered that a full district boundary review be submitted to the NSUARB by December 31, 2010.
The NSUARB, through their previous decisions, provided specific direction to the Council with regard to this review. The NSUARB stated that a full disctrict boundary review is to include the following:
“Determining the size of Council involves the consideration of the desired style of Council, the governance structure of Council, and a determination of an effective and efficient number of councillors. The style of government is a question which should not be decided by Council until adequate public consultation has occurred respecting the expectation of constituents.”
The Chamber monitored the District Boundary review process and knows that from tax decisions to setting infrastructure priorities, businesses in this city depend on an efficient and effective City Council to make the right choices for them, and to make them in a timely fashion.
The Chamber advocated that the size of Council be reduced to help ensure that councillors work within the best structure possible, a structure that enables them to keep focused on their leadership role.
The Chamber also recognized however that while a smaller Council may be the way to go, it’s not the magic bullet. A smaller Council would be better able to work together, be more focused and cohesive. However, reducing the size of council alone won’t do the job. The onus will fall to the councillors to demonstrate their leadership and ensure we have an effective Council devoted to making Halifax a better, future focused city, without consideration to personal agendas or regional biases.