By Yvette d’Entremont-The Weekly News
Whatever shape the new HRM council takes after Oct. 20, the man who represented the Lower Sackville area for the last 23 years won’t be part of it.
Bob Harvey was first elected in a 1989 by-election. Among many other things, he was on hand for Acadia School’s redevelopment into a library, the closing of the Sackville landfill site and the start of the Harbour Solutions project.
He backed trail development and saw the First Lake, Second Lake and Bedford to Sackville connector trails built over his 23 year tenure. He was also a vocal supporter of banning smoking in public places.
“It still reverberates. Every election since, (some) people refused to support me because they lost their smoking rights as they see them,” Harvey said. “It was a polarizing issue in the community, but one I feel I was on the right side of.”
He recalls one regional council colleague years ago who refused to support him as a deputy mayor candidate because he felt Harvey was “too radical.”
“It made for interesting years,” Harvey laughed. “Now it is quite accepted and we have changed public thinking on this (smoking in public spaces) through legislation and public education. It was a long struggle.”
One of the low points for Harvey was that HRM didn’t complete the tax reform process. He also wanted to see a few more capital projects realized in the district, including sidewalks on Cobequid Road and a connecting trail to Sucker Brook.
He also hopes to see capital debt of the Sackville Sports Stadium and all regional facilities taken over by the municipality, and thinks Lower Sackville’s streets need upgrading and must be made more accessible.
Despite having made the firm decision in 2008 that he was embarking on his last term as a municipal councillor, Harvey does find it a bit tough to sit back and watch the campaign for the newly configured Lower Sackville district unfold.
“When I see the electioneering going on I have pangs that I’m not out with them,” he admitted. “I’m more on the sidelines and it’s a little different. Like an old racehorse, you hear the starting horn and your ears perk up.”
Pleased with the configuration of the new Lower Sackville district, Harvey hopes the new councillor will also seek out ways to improve transit service for the largely commuter-based community.
Harvey may not be in the race, but just days before nominations closed, his daughter Janet Langille decided to throw her hat into the ring.
“I felt proud she wanted to step forward to offer for public service. It’s all about making democracy work,” Harvey said. “Janet has been around elections, and worked on mine in 2008..I think it’s fair to say she’ll have our support.”
As he prepares to leave more than two decades of municipal politics behind, the former history teacher said the experience is one he’ll always treasure.
“For 23 years it has been a great privilege to serve and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. It was the highlight of my life,” Harvey said.