A handful of Halifax regional councillors are complaining about over-regulation and micro-managing by city hall.

During a debate on Tuesday on whether to start regulating the brightness of lights at gas stations, some councillors said the city is overextending its reach.

“I’m starting to feel as though every time we come in here, there’s a new target,” Eastern Shore Coun. Steve Streatch said.

He mentioned recent council issues such as the ability to crush rocks on streets, a proposed ban on throwing out furniture and the ever-present cat regulations.

“Today, we’re saying if you want to have a light on your street, you have to ask everybody on the street whether you can have it. I think we’re going too far,” Streatch said.

He feels the city is starting to micro-manage lives and that’s “distasteful.”

Portland-East Woodlawn Coun. Bill Karsten said someone in his district bought a condo, but thinks his neighbour’s air conditioner is too loud.

“My heart bleeds for him, but there’s nothing we have in our regulations that would cover that. Are we then to have regulations for that as well?” Karsten asked.

East Dartmouth-The Lakes Coun. Andrew Younger wondered if the city is “regulating them to death.”

Deputy Mayor Sue Uteck called the lights issue “another bylaw that we’re not going to enforce,” and said that it is “a colossal waste of staff time, initiative and dollars.”

In an interview yesterday, Mayor Peter Kelly said there is a fine line in deciding what council should take on.

“It may appear sometimes that we’re straddling the line, but I think we need to step back and look at where the public expects us to go to ensure that we don’t over-react, don’t over-regulate and don’t over- control, but address the issues on the basis of need,” Kelly said.

Charles Cirtwill, acting president of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, said there is no question that HRM and this council is “regulation-happy.”

Not enough thought is given to enforcement, cost or whether the regulation is even needed, he said.

“They love to talk about limiting what goes on this city, controlling it, making new rules,” Cirtwill said.

Despite the concerns of over-regulation, the lights issue was still narrowly supported and will come back for more debate in the future.