Nova Scotia

New, more diverse Halifax regional council sworn in

A new Halifax council was sworn in on Thursday. It will be the first time that the council has gender parity.

New council has gender parity and the first Black woman to sit at the council table.

Physical distancing was in effect for the HRM swearing-in ceremony. (Robert Short/CBC)

There was African drumming, a Mi'kmaw honour song and bagpipes at the swearing in ceremony for Halifax's new council at the Halifax Convention Centre on Thursday evening.

It was a diverse introduction for a council chamber that will have gender parity for the first time, and two representatives who are Black.

"It shouldn't be a big deal, but it is," said Mayor Mike Savage. "That half of our council are now women."

Afterwards, the mayor said he told municipal colleagues in other parts of the country that they should strive for similar results.

Mayor Mike Savage hopes other municipal councils in Canada will achieve gender parity. (Robert Short/CBC)

As has become the norm with COVID-19, it was a small gathering with few in attendance and physical distancing in effect. 

The podium where the newly elected representatives took the oath of office, and the table where they signed documents, were sanitized in between every oath.

Savage joked it was the cleanest table in the city. He said it was important to hold an in-person ceremony despite COVID-19.

After taking the oath, which was administered by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Duncan, some of the newly elected councillors talked about being part of a more diverse team, and the issues they want to tackle first.

Iona Stoddard of District 12 is the first Black woman to serve on the Halifax council. (Robert Short/CBC)

"Being the first woman of colour [on Halifax council], it'll open up the door for somebody else to come through," said Iona Stoddard.

"One of the biggest issues that people spoke to me about is affordable housing," said Kathryn Morse. "That's on the top of my list."

"I think it's road safety in general, just creating safer designs and safer infrastructure," said Pamela Lovelace.

There was no councillor sworn in for District 11. One of the candidates in that race, Bruce Holland, has asked for a recount. It's been scheduled for Monday.

Municipal elections were held on Oct. 17. 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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