rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Halifax politicians and campaign funders: Time to end this cozy relationship

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Adventures of KM&G-Morris/flickr

So let me see if I have this correct.

Dino Capital proposed a 142-unit twin tower development on south-end Wellington Street that would squish 354 people into air space approved for just 253, increasing the overall density of the residential street by 50 per cent.

City planning staff objected. Volunteer planning experts argued the eight and ten-tower complex was a bad fit.

Over the objections of the two councillors who represent the area, the project proceeded to a public hearing. More than 50 people lined up at the microphones during a four-hour talkathon last December. It is fair to say they were not enthusiastic. In fact, more than 1,000 people, most from the neighbourhood, signed a petition opposing the development.

Last week, Halifax city councillors filled up yet another three hours debating the issue before voting (after an amendment that made the project 20 per cent smaller, but no more popular among residents) nine to six to -- wait for it: approve the project.

Why?

Well, if you ask Coun. David Hendsbee (Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore), who voted yes, he did so because residential Wellington Street, population roughly 700 individuals, is a "corporate street… it fits the landscape proportionately."

Uh... OK.

Coun. Gloria McCluskey (Dartmouth Centre) explained her yes vote by criticizing the planning department for having approved three buildings in her Dartmouth district a few years earlier with "no thought of compatibility… no test of sensitivity… no thought of the effect on the community… If I sat here today and said this is wrong, how would the people of Dartmouth feel?'

Wait a minute. You said yes to a project the planning department rejected for… spite?

Let us not burrow too deeply into the mental gymnastics of the individual councillors who voted in favour of this particular project.

Let us simply… ahem… consider the general generic reality of from whom would-be councillors raise funds to get themselves elected.

We know, without knowing details -- specific disclosure not required -- that close to half of all current councillors received one-third or more of their campaign donations from developers.

Is it time to pass realistic municipal campaign finance legislation?

Or is it past time?

Your call.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Adventures of KM&G-Morris/flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.