A Halifax city councillor says that when the city is looking to get rid of surplus vehicles in its fleet, it should first look to see whether any local community groups need the vehicles.

At a June 13 council meeting, council chose to donate three Metro X buses that were at the end of their economic lifespan, two to the Town of Bridgewater for a pilot transit project and one to the Halifax Christian Academy, which was seeking a bus to transport its students.

According to city staff, the buses might have had several years of life left if maintained, but the upkeep was estimated to cost the city more than the cost of replacing the buses.

The city could have chosen to either sell or donate the buses.

The buses were originally acquired for $139,000 each and were estimated to have a resale value of $5,000 to $7,000 each when they were donated.

'Only 8 years old'

Streatch voted in favour of the donation motion at the June 13 meeting, which carried unanimously.

He said he voted for the measure because the maintenance work would have cost more than operating costs, but he now says he would like to have seen the vehicles donated to community groups within the municipality.

"I quite simply question whether it was maybe a little too early to divest ourselves of a vehicle that was only eight years old," he said.

Streatch said he'd like the process for getting rid of surplus city vehicles to first look at whether there are community groups within HRM that need the vehicles.

Stricter process for future?

At the June 13 council meeting, city staff explained there was no widespread public notice made about the plans to get rid of the old buses. The two organizations that received the buses had contacted Halifax Transit about two months apart, and asked if they could either buy or have the vehicles donated to them.

Coun. Lorelei Nicoll asked city CAO Jacques Dube if there could be more parameters put around the process for donating surplus equipment in the future, to which Dube agreed there should be.

"If people knew about these opportunities there might be more ask, and you'd have to have criteria attached to it as to who is actually qualified to get it," said Nicoll on June 13.

"It would be nice to be more fair and more accountable in the process."