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Auditor general finds Halifax council not being kept up to date on surplus properties

Halifax Regional Municipality spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year maintaining surplus buildings and land.

Halifax Auditor General Evangeline Colman-Sadd speaks to reporters at Halifax City Hall on Nov. 15, 2017.

Zane Woodford / Metro Order this photo

Halifax Auditor General Evangeline Colman-Sadd speaks to reporters at Halifax City Hall on Nov. 15, 2017.

Regional council isn’t being kept up to date on the municipality’s surplus properties, according to a report from the Halifax auditor general.

Auditor General Evangeline Colman-Sadd tabled a report at the municipality’s Audit and Finance Committee on Wednesday on HRM’s management of surplus buildings and land.
Colman-Sadd’s presentation said the municipality has spent $2.5 million maintaining these properties since 2013.

Metro reported last year on the cost of a few of those buildings. For instance, the former Halifax library on Spring Garden Road costs $135,000 annually to maintain, the old Dartmouth City Hall building costs $90,000, and the Bloomfield Centre on Robie Street costs $86,000.

Unless it’s dealing with one of the properties specifically, council isn’t updated on these costs.

One of Colman-Sadd’s recommendations is that councillors be updated on the costs and status of these properties.

“I think it’s up to management to decide how frequently and up to council to decide how frequently they want that information,” she told reporters after the meeting. “That could take the form of something on a quarterly basis, a couple of times a year, or even an annual basis.”

Colman-Sadd also found that council isn’t always properly informed about the environmental risks associated with the properties when they sell them.

“If you’re going to dispose of land or a building on an ‘as is’ basis to a community group, regional council may want to know if there are environmental concerns with that,” she said.

“A community group may not have the reason to deal with environmental risks the way a company or an individual might have.”

Municipal managers accepted all eight of the report’s recommendations.

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