Halifax considering neighbour mediation program

Coun. Tony Mancini wants to divert complaints away from bylaw officers

A Halifax regional councillor is fed up with neighbours tying up city resources with their disputes.

In a regional council meeting on Tuesday, Coun. Tony Mancini asked his colleagues to consider an alternative solution to deal with persistent community or neighbour to neighbour conflicts.

“Everyone of us on council have had an experience with neighbours contacting you and saying, ‘my neighbour has done this, what are you going to do about it?’” said Mancini, councillor for Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East, in the meeting.

“It’s actually quite sad. I can’t imagine leaving my house or going to my home and looking over, gazing at my neighbour and hating my neighbour, but it happens.”

Mancini’s solution to this problem is a third-party mediation program that would give neighbours the opportunity to sit down together and get to the root cause of the problem. Certain bylaw cases would be referred to the free, community mediation services.

Coun. David Hendsbee, representing Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore, said he’s also frustrated by the complaints and calls the city receives.

“It’s harassment by the bureaucracy,” said Hendsbee. “People are complaining, calling and sending the bylaw officers out just to find that they’re using the municipalities between their battles.”

Hendsbee agreed that having an alternate mechanism in place to deal with neighbour disputes is needed, and said he thinks most problems can be resolved with some education.

Mancini said he’s found other municipalities across Canada have similar programs in place and thinks HRM would benefit from implementing a program as well.

Mancini requested a staff report for a proposed pilot program. He wants staff to look at the need for internal training and develop criteria for determining cases for mediation.

Council passed his motion unanimously.

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