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COMING TO COUNCIL: Single-use plastics, parking violation fines and wetlands

Council will meet for the first time in 2019 on Tuesday, and there are lots of topics up for discussion.
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Halifax City Hall (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

Halifax Regional Council has a packed meeting on tap for Tuesday, it's first session of the new year. 

Single-use plastics 

The much-discussed and somewhat controversial plan for dealing with single-use plastics in Halifax will come before council on Tuesday. 

HRM's Environment and Sustainability Committee came to a decision on the matter near the end of 2018. That committee's chair, Councillor Tony Mancini, said at that time there is widespread support for a ban on single-use plastics, including items like plastic grocery bags. 

That sentiment was echoed by many in the business community, although they argued in favour of a gradual ban rather than an immediate one. 

The motion outlines three recommendations made by the committee:

  1. That council start an education campaign aimed at getting people to reduce the amount of plastic they use. This campaign would apply to both residents of HRM, and the commercial, industrial and institutional sector. 
  2. Review and update the 2009 HRM Corporate Guidelines for Greening Meetings and Catering Requirements.
  3. Work with the ten largest municipalities in Nova Scotia and come up with a draft by-law, no later that Dec. 2019, that would eliminate the distribution of single-use plastic bags. The committee recommends there be no voluntary participation, but rather a total ban. 

Collaboration on this ban with the Nova Scotia's ten largest municipalities would essentially serve as a pseudo-provincial ban on plastic bags. The environment committee came to that decision after first approaching government about a provincial ban, but Nova Scotia currently has no plans to implement such a program. 

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, HRM processed 382 tonnes of single-use plastic bags. It is important to note that's just a small portion of the total amount of film plastic that was processed. 

Parking violation fines

A staff report coming to council is recommending changes to parking violation fines in HRM. 

The recommendations would see Category A fines increased from $25 to $50, Category B fines from $50 to $75 and Category Cines from $100 to $200. 

Category A offences include things blocking a bus stop or taxi stand, parking within five metres of a fire hydrant and blocking a driveway. 

Category B offences include parking that interferes with snow clearing, parking too close to Halifax Fire equipment in use and failing to obey a parking sign. 

Category C offences include stopping or parking in a fire lane, parking on the left-hand roadway of a divided highway and illegally parking in an accessible-parking zone. 

The staff report recommends council not change parking metre violation fines, which are currently set at $25 for every hour you're parked illegally. 

According to data collected by staff looking at comparable cities, these increases would actually bring Halifax more in line with the average fines for such offences, but in many cases HRM would still have slightly lower fines. An exception to that rule would be HRM's proposed $200 fine for parking in a fire lane, which staff finds is on average $103 dollars elsewhere. 

Staff says in 2017-18, HRM made $2.8 million off of parking violation fines. If these changes are adopted - which would require the province's blessing - those revenues could increase by 50 to 60 per cent. 

Wetlands

Another report is recommending council direct staff to come up with a list of potential wetland projects in the municipality. 

Those projects would be the focus of money via Nova Scotia Environment's wetland conservation funding. 

Staff says there are many benefits to wetlands, including flood mitigation, keeping drinking water clean and creating habitats for a wide range of species. 

The report suggests increasing the number of swamps and marshes in the municipality could end up saving money in the form of protecting property from potential flood damage. 




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Mark Hodgins

About the Author: Mark Hodgins

Mark Hodgins is an Ontario-born Haligonian. A graduate of the Loyalist College journalism program, he’s been with NEWS 95.7 since 2016. Mark is a lover of sports, politics and video games.
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