Mayor Peter Kelly used the occasion of his “state of the municipality” address on Thursday to issue a call to action for the city’s business community.

“Make no mistake, we hear the bugle call to action loud and clear,” he said. “The question is — do you?”

Kelly was speaking at a luncheon of politicians, bureaucrats, and business leaders hosted by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

In response to a question about whether or not tax reform will once again be put on council’s agenda, Kelly said everybody wants to pay less, while demanding more investment and spending.

“We have heard many times from residents who want to pay less, from commercial (businesses) who want to pay less, but at the same time are wanting more,” Kelly said.

“Well, you can’t have it both ways, folks. It’s either one or the other, or a balance.”

Crystal clear on transit authority
While discussing improvements to Metro Transit’s service, Kelly launched into a renewed call for a regional integrated transportation authority.

Kelly said city staff have been talking with the province about re-opening discussions on a regional authority, funded by allocating money from provincial gas tax revenues.

“(A regional authority) would be responsible for all aspects of roads, bridges and transit,” he said.

“Let’s not have many people looking many ways at many items. Let’s bring it together and have it focused on transportation. Period.”

Openness stands out in speech

The overall message of Kelly’s speech seemed to be one of openness — that HRM is open for business and open for input from the business community.

He referenced several environmental, social and economic milestones of the past decade, while looking forward to projects like the four-pad arena in Bedford and the new public library on Queen Street.

– What do you think?