Council Update: Kiwanis Grahams Grove, Alcohol Park Avenue Oven, Affordable Housing

Kiwanis Grahams Grove: The main item on the Council agenda, for District 5 anyway, was a new building at Grahams Grove Park. Grahams Grove is the municipal park along Lake Banook opposite the Superstore. The main organized uses are the Kiwanis Club of Dartmouth, and Dartmouth Dragon Boat Association, each with their own dated building.

The Kiwanis have a small trailer in the Park which they use to sell Christmas trees from in the winter and ice cream from in the summer. The Dragon Boaters have a small portable building for their club and secured boat storage. The Dragon Boaters operate from the dock in the cove and draw people from all across HRM. Rounding out the collection of buildings at Grahams Grove is HRM’s washroom and change facility, which is really a leftover from the days when the Park had a supervised swimming beach. After the Parclo was built, the beach fell out of use, but our cinderblock 1970s building is still there. What it all amounts to is the three main permanent uses in the Park all have their own standalone dated buildings. It’s a ramshackle collection that doesn’t serve anyone’s needs particularly well.

Grahams Grove Park. Kiwanis trailer at the top of the parking lot, HRM washrooms behind, Dragon Boat Association to the right

Grahams Grove Park is a special place for our local Kiwanis Club since it was their efforts that led to the Park’s creation back in the 1970s. The Kiwanis approached HRM a few years ago about constructing a permanent canteen and meeting room space for the Club. Grahams Grove Park is a special place for our local Kiwanis Club since it was their efforts that led to the Parks creation back in the 1970s. Rather than allow the Club to build a stand-alone building, HRM opted instead to initiate a shared municipal project that would combine all the current uses in the Park into a new building. The new building will provide space for both the Dragon Boaters, and the Kiwanis, as well as providing a meeting room space, public washroom, and a deck. A single combined building is a much better approach to solving everyone’s space issues.

What was before Council on Tuesday was approving the building concept and identifying when in HRM’s capital plan that the project may happen. The staff recommendation was for the 2022/2023 fiscal year. I proposed modifying that though to 2021/2022 to avoid having construction underway when the World Canoe Sprint Championships are on Lake Banook and to provide organizers with the opportunity to use it for the event. I was pleased that my colleagues were amendable to supporting moving this project up by one year. So a new building for Grahams Grove is tentatively planned for 2021.

Concept Plan for a new building at Grahams Grove

Alcohol at the Park Avenue Oven: Council agreed to my request for a staff report on including the Park Avenue Community Oven in HRM’s Municipal Alcohol Policy. The idea would be to allow groups renting the Oven, if they wish, to apply for special occasion licenses. This is allowed in some other municipal spaces such as DeWolfe Park in Bedford. This was sparked by a request from B’ye Local Dartmouth who has been hosting the Dog Days of Dartmouth event at the Oven. B’ye Local would like to have a craft beer tasting as part of their event to celebrate Downtown Dartmouth’s brewers, but can’t because alcohol isn’t permitted on the Common. I spoke with the Park Avenue Oven group about including the Oven in HRM’s policy and they thought the idea was worth looking into.

Photo: Park Avenue Community Oven Facebook Page

I want to emphasize that this isn’t about allowing for large-scale alcoholic events. The Park Avenue Oven is a community venue in a public park right next to people’s homes. It really isn’t a spot where a beer garden is going to ever be a good fit. That said, combining a little splash of wine or beer with pizza wouldn’t be the end of the world and is something that is often a discrete part of how folks are using the Oven already. I’m interested to see if there is a way to open the door just a little bit for responsible consumption. We’ll see what staff come back with.

Affordable Housing Fees: Council agreed to a motion by Councillor Mancini to request a report on waiving permit fees on affordable housing projects. The impetus for this is a request by Affirmative Ventures, who are looking to build on Main Street in Dartmouth. HRM allowed for the waiving of fees for all non-profits building affordable housing in 2017, but the waiver didn’t cover all the municipal bills that go with getting construction started. Leaving some fees out wasn’t done on purpose per say, it happened because the fees come from several different bylaws and Council’s 2017’s bylaw changes only covered the fees in the Building Bylaw. The request by Councillor Mancini is to go back and eliminate the remaining expenses buried in HRM’s other bylaw.

When it comes to affordable housing, it’s important to remember HRM’s role. Unlike some cities in Canada, HRM doesn’t have a mandate to build affordable housing. In Nova Scotia, that function is the Province’s. HRM clearly has an interest in Affordable Housing though through our responsibility for planning. While the municipality doesn’t build housin directly, what we should be doing is creating the conditions for success. Supporting non-profits that are building affordable housing is something that we can do. I was very happy to sit in on discussions with Planning staff with Councillor Mancini on this issue and to support his motion. A report will return to Council in the future.


  • Requested staff reports on the provision of lifeguards at a beach in Cole Harbour, and on providing funding for the Waverley Community Association
  • Approved one-time exemptions to the District Capital policy to enable Councillor Karstin to provide funding for a scoreclock at Island View High School, and for Councillor Adams to allow wharf repairs in Ketch Harbour
  • First reading for non-substantive amendments to an existing development agreement in St. Margarets Bay
  • Increased funding for rural transit grants (Musgo Rider, Bay Rides, etc) to offset the fact that the community transit services have traveled way more kilometers than originally anticipated
  • Adjusted private road maintenance fees for two streets in St. Margaret’s Bay
  • Deferred changes to HRM’s Temporary Sign Bylaw to allow for additional consultation with industry and the development of alternative options for Council to consider
  • Directed staff to update HRM’s Vehicle Anti-Idling Policy


  1. Hi Sam,

    Regarding the new building in Graham’s Grove, would it be possible to have the public washroom actually open to the public for regularly scheduled hours? I run early in the morning and sometimes the washroom is open early in the summer, and sometimes it’s not. It’s never open in any other season–as if nobody uses the park any other time of the year. (Ditto for the washrooms at Albro Lake: sometimes open, sometimes not and never outside of summer.)

    • My hope would be that the new building would have regular hours for the washrooms. We have a strategy that’s due to Council on washrooms. When it comes forward, I will ask about the hours.

  2. Thanks again for your updates. The idea of allowing Dartmouth craft beer tastings at the Oven sounds like a logical idea. Also, the removal of any red tape that would allow private builders to develop affordable housing for low income and particularly seniors would be a definite step in the right direction. They are being built in Cambridge, Kentville outskirts and Windsor. We should have them available in Dartmouth, instead of the horror stories we read about with some of the affordable seniors housing in Metro.

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