Halifax city council was never “formally” consulted by the province on a bill that would give individual districts the choice to have as many as four elected councillors representing each area, the municipal relations minister admitted yesterday.
If all districts took advantage of this proposed legislation, an additional 92 seats would have to be added to city council.
The Halifax Regional Municipality Charter was first introduced last Friday and Municipal Relations Minister Jamie Muir said yesterday that the last-minute addition to the charter came about because a group of residents from Bedford expressed to him their discontent with council’s current setup.
They feel they don’t have enough say in city politics, he said.
“There’s no question, everybody knows, there’s some tension between Bedford and HRM,” Muir said.
Critics say the reason this last-minute addition was made to the proposed HRM charter is because Muir’s executive assistant, Matthew Christie, ran for the recent Bedford byelection and he promoted this idea in his platform.
“My feeling is that it was done for political motivation,” said Liberal MLA Diana Whalen.
Christie was also formerly part of a Bedford group that lobbies for the former municipality to have more control over HRM policies and spending.
She said the section was added in “haste” and there wasn’t adequate consultation with the city about the issue.
Both Muir and his assistant said Christie’s Bedford connection had nothing to do with the last-minute change to the charter.
Muir said he had no idea his assistant used to be in the lobby group and he and Christie never discussed the issue.
New Democrat MLA Becky Kent said Christie’s connection to Bedford and his close position with the municipal relations minister is suspect.
“I’d be shocked to hear that he and the minister wouldn’t have had some conversation,” she said.