Halifax council has voted in favour of rescinding the purchase of a police armoured vehicle and will instead allocate the money to efforts aimed at reducing anti-Black racism.
Coun. Shawn Cleary, who brought the motion forward on Tuesday, says the decision reflects a shift in viewpoints driven in part by the public demonstrations against police racism occurring throughout North America.
His motion shifts $300,000 that would have been used for the purchase to support a variety of anti-Black racism initiatives, with another $89,500 going toward programs for diversity, inclusion and public safety.
The budget committee motion passed with the backing of all but one councillor.
Cleary first attempted to have the contract for the Halifax police refused in a motion last year opposing the militarized, tactical vehicle with a rotating roof hatch, eight gun ports and a powered battering ram.
The Halifax police had argued the vehicle was needed in the city because “crises happen here” and it would provide safety for officers in situation such as armed standoffs.
Cleary says he was elated by the decision to rescind the contract.
The councillor said he believes the cancellation is legal because the request for proposals had a clause that a cancellation could occur if the original delivery date couldn’t be met.
“The delivery date was pushed back due to COVID-19 and some other factors … so we think legally we’re fine cancelling the contract,” he said.
He said Terradyne Armoured Vehicles in Newmarket, Ont., had been the successful bidder on the contract. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a 2019 presentation supporting the purchase, the Halifax Regional Police emphasized the armoured vehicle would be providing protection – a “safe haven” during high-risk operations and natural disasters. It said the weaponless vehicle would be used to “safely remove people from dangerous situations,” including active shooters and other threats.
The proposal had raised eyebrows, coming just a month after the release of a report on racial profiling that concluded black people in Halifax were street-checked by police at a rate six times higher than white people.