Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre one step closer to new home after vote by Halifax council
Also at Halifax regional council's meeting: 'social policy lens' report gets the green light, and some new crosswalk flags will be allowed.
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The executive director said there’s still a long road ahead, but the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre is one step closer to building its new home on Gottingen Street.
Halifax regional council voted unanimously in favour of a motion that could see 1940 Gottingen St., the site that held the old Red Cross, sold to the Friendship Centre.
The terms of the deal reached are not public, but council voted in July to explore options for “proceeding to sale by economic development stream.” Tuesday’s vote puts the property in the economic development stream, and enters into an “option agreement” with the Friendship Centre.
“HRM is taking a huge leap of faith here, and we’re going to make it to the finish line,” executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers told reporters after the meeting on Tuesday.
“We still have a lot of engagement to do, not just with our own community but with the community as a whole because I do believe that’s the way forward. I think it’s with our community, but it’s also with the non-Indigenous community as well.”
The development at the site could be up to 200,000 square feet, and Glode-Desrochers said previously that the friendship centre needs about 70,000.
“We know that there’s a cultural component, that we want to make sure the Mi’kmaq territory is well-represented. We want that building to be an iconic building, but there’s also a lot of space there for everybody.”
That could mean office space or affordable housing, she said.
“It’s all on the table,” Glode-Desrochers said Tuesday. “We’re looking at ways we can partner with non-traditional partners, not just government funding.”
Mayor Mike Savage wouldn’t say what the price of the property was, but said that the Friendship Centre would need federal and provincial funding to make it work.
The key for Glode-Desrochers is to create that iconic space.
“Right now everybody refers to us as the building with the paintings on the outside,” she said.
“Well, we want it to be, you know what, when you’re in HRM or you’re in the province of Nova Scotia, you need to go see the waterfront, the library and don’t forget about the Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre.”
Council votes for ‘social policy lens’ report
After a debate Tuesday about the role of the municipality in what some councillors consider to be the provincial government’s realm, Halifax regional council voted unanimously in favour of a staff report on a “social policy lens.”
Coun. Lindell Smith brought the motion to council, looking for a staff report on developing a lens “through which to assess future initiatives” to support healthy and liveable communities, planning and land use, recreation programs and other work.
The report will also look at options for more social development work, “not limited to departmental expansion,” and research what other municipalities are doing.
Many councillors feared the report could lead to the municipality taking on more social work, and taking on more costs.
Mayor Mike Savage argued the municipality was already doing this work, and he didn’t want to see money spent on a social department.
Some crosswalk flags still allowed as HRM considers alternatives
After a seven-month moratorium on their installation, Halifax regional council voted Tuesday to allow new crosswalks safety flags to be installed at unlit crosswalks.
Council voted in May to suspend installation of the flags, work done by a community group using councillors’ discretionary funds, while the municipality tested other means of making it safer for Haligonians to cross the street.
HRM staff recommended the moratorium continue because it views the flags as ineffective, but a majority of councillors believe the bright orange flags do work.
The existing flags will stay put, and the Crosswalk Safety Society of Nova Scotia will be allowed to install new ones at basic intersections, where there are no lights.