Nova Scotia

Halifax mayor endorses smaller council

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has added his voice to the chorus calling for a smaller council.

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has added his voice to the chorus calling for a smaller council.

Kelly told the provincial regulator Monday that there should only be 16 councillors and a mayor, rather than the current total of 24.

"I believe a smaller council would be just as accessible to residents, it would be just as responsible to residents' expectations and would certainly allow for just as wide a range of political perspectives," he said.

Last year, regional council voted to maintain the status quo but tweak the district boundaries.

Kelly said his position as mayor has given him insight into how council works. He said similarly sized cities have much smaller councils.

Kelly was one of 10 people to speak at a hearing of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Most supported a smaller council.

Earle Wagner, a veteran of the Second World War and longtime Halifax resident, said dropping to 12 members would be cheaper and more efficient.

"The council of 23 members and mayor is too big and unwieldy for effective decision-making and does not provide good critical review of large expenditures," said Wagner.

Pollster Don Mills said he conducted four surveys over the past year and found that 80 per cent of respondents preferred a smaller council.

But Jack Novak, an expert on municipal government at Hensen College, argued against shrinking council, saying homeowners could be worse off.

The hearing continues on Tuesday. The review board is expected to make a decision within three months.