Nova Scotia

Halifax council size up for debate

The Halifax Regional Municipality will have fewer councillors if a community group has its way.

The Halifax Regional Municipality will have fewer councillors if a community group has its way.

The group Citizens for Halifax is among those lobbying the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for a smaller council.

Paula Minnikin said her group believes no more than 15 councillors are needed.

"The number of citizens per councillor in Halifax is seriously out of whack. They drive inefficiency, poor communication. You have very disparate interests," she said.

A hearing to determine the size of regional council begins on Monday.

The municipality has asked the review board to maintain all 23 districts, with some boundary adjustments. Council voted last year for the status quo, even though a committee recommended only 20 districts for 2012, when the next municipal election is held.

The board's own consultant criticized the way regional council handled the matter and said there could be an argument for having only 20 councillors.

Every written submission to the review board calls for a smaller council.

Coun. Tim Outhit, the representative for Bedford, has his own views.

"Certainly 15 to 17 would mean more efficient meetings and still have people well represented," he said.

Outhit, two other councillors and the mayor are scheduled to speak at the hearing. Representatives of Fusion Halifax and the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, as well as several members of the public are also on the list.

The charter for the municipality requires a boundary review every eight years. The last major review took place in 2003, prior to the 2004 election, when council voted to remain with the status quo.

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