News / Halifax

Halifax regional council denies funding for 'road train'

Also at council on Tuesday: Coun. Shawn Cleary's motion for a report on a lobbyist registry for Halifax City Hall goes ahead.

The &quotroad train" as seen in downtown Halifax. Uploaded by: Woodford, Zane

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The "road train" as seen in downtown Halifax. Uploaded by: Woodford, Zane

Road train funding denied

Halifax regional council stopped funding for a downtown “road train” in its tracks with a tie vote on Tuesday.

The initiative, pitched to council by Ambassatours CEO Dennis Campbell earlier this year, had passed all hurdles to get $50,000 in funding from the municipality.

Ambassatours set up a not-for-profit society to run the train and receive the money – a condition of council’s earlier approval – and council’s finance committee recommended it approve the funding.

On Tuesday, Coun. Sam Austin argued the not-for-profit society wasn’t enough to make him feel like the municipality wasn’t just giving money to a for-profit business – something it’s prohibited from doing. He moved that the matter be deferred pending a new staff report, but that motion was defeated.

The overall motion ended in a tie vote, as Coun. Waye Mason, a board member at the not-for-profit society, had recused himself.

In this scenario, a tie vote means a no vote, so the society will have to reapply for funding next year.

The program already ran this summer and into the fall without the municipal contribution.

Lobbyist registry report on the way

Coun. Shawn Cleary’s motion for a lobbyist registry for the municipality sparked a heated debate in council chambers on Tuesday, but the idea found enough support to move forward.

Cleary sought a staff report “with recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a municipal lobbyist registry, which should include a regular, transparent reporting process,” asking staff to look into what other municipalities and provinces have done.

Coun. Bill Karsten was vehemently opposed to the idea, arguing that the public doesn’t care, that the municipal government is transparent enough as is, and remarking that if council lets “any more sunshine in on our transparency, I'll get a sunburn."

Several councillors were concerned about the definition of a lobbyist, worried that everyday citizens calling to ask for something would be considered lobbyists.

City solicitor John Traves told them lobbyists are generally paid to ask for something, and assured that there’d be a clear definition in the staff report.

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