Council Update: The end of the Smoking Debate, Parking Pass Changes

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Nuisance Bylaw (Smoking): It was a very short Council meeting on Tuesday. The main item on the agenda was the return of the staff report on possible changes to the Nuisance Bylaw regarding smoking. Council previously changed the Nuisance Bylaw in response to the coming legalization of cannabis to ban smoking of all substances, including tobacco, on public property, including sidewalks. Under the bylaw, smoking will only be permitted in designated areas. As I have learned more about HRM’s approach to designated smoking areas, I have become more and more convinced that what HRM is trying to do just isn’t practical. What we’re getting is the worst of all worlds. It’s not going to be much of a ban because HRM is going to have to designate smoking areas. Designating smoking areas is going to be tricky and bureaucratic and, at the end of the day, I suspect it won’t be particularly effective because it will be unenforceable. I’m no fan of smoking, but I’m fan of reality and what HRM is proposing just doesn’t make practical sense.

The request I put forward was to remove the tobacco piece and focus the restrictions on public usage of cannabis, which is the approach used in Newfoundland, PEI, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Territories, and by the City of Calgary. The other four provinces  (Alberta, BC, Quebec and Nova Scotia) opted not to restrict the public usage of cannabis beyond what already exists for tobacco. HRM is basically alone in the country in responding to the legalization of cannabis by banning all public smoking. Whether that means we’re leaders or have come up with a flawed approach was the essence of the debate. Here’s my case

Council ended up voting against my amendment to remove tobacco from the Nuisance Bylaw 8-6 and the politics around that vote were more tangled than usual. Despite the defeat of my amendment, the majority in the room expressed discontent with the Nuisance Bylaw’s current approach of banning both cannabis and tobacco except in designated areas (myself, Adams, Whitman, Zurawski, Streatch, Hendsbee, Outhit). So why did my amendment fail? The problem was that while the majority agreed on taking tobacco out and allowing the Smoke Free Places Act to set the standard, several of my colleagues felt that we should also remove cannabis. I tried to convince them to vote for my amendment since that would allow us to fix the tobacco piece and that’s what was before us (we couldn’t have removed cannabis without another staff report request), but I wasn’t able to bring them all onside. Both Councillors Hendsbee and Zurawski spoke against the current Nuisance Bylaw, but ended up voting against my amendment. Essentially, eight of us agreed that the current approach is flawed, but we couldn’t agree on what the alternative should be, which allowed the six Councillors (Blackburn, Craig, Cleary, Mason, Smith, Nicoll) who preferred the designated areas approach to prevail.

While frustrating in the moment, it likely wouldn’t have mattered much in the end since, had I been able to bring Hendsbee and Zurawski onside and tipped the vote to 8-6 in favour of my amendment, it would have still had to pass second reading on September 18. Council would have been back to nearly full strength on the 18th with the return of Councillors Walker, Karstin and Mancini and both Walker and Karstin have spoke very strongly in favour of the current approach in the past. So even if my amendment had survived Tuesday, there was a good chance of defeat at second reading on the 18th. Second reading would have all come down to Councillor Mancini. All a moot point though since the eight looking to change things couldn’t agree.

So, HRM’s experiment in trying to restrict smoking to only designated areas is a go. I don’t think it will work and even if it does, I’m not sure what the real benefit will be, but we’re about to find out. The plan is to make the bylaw effective in October, so look for signs for designated areas soon.


Residential Parking Pass Changes: Council moved first reading of bylaw changes to residential parking permits. The residential parking permit system works by placing parking restrictions on streets and then allowing residents to buy a pass to exempt them from the restrictions. The goal is to ensure that there is on-street parking available to neighbourhood residents in areas of high-demand. There are a few streets in and around Downtown Dartmouth that have residential permits.

The new residential parking permit system will be much more flexible than the old one. Rather than a street/block specific permit, a zone-based system will be implemented. Permit holders will be able to park anywhere in their zone rather than just on their block. That flexibility will also allow residents who live on streets that don’t have any on-street parking to buy permits. There will be three permit zones in Dartmouth.

The new permit parking zones

The permitting time period will also become much more flexible. Right now, the effective date for all permits is June 1 – May 31. This means that if you buy a permit on June 1, you get the full value, but not if you buy one halfway through the year. Under the new system, permits will be effective for 12 months from the date that they’re purchased. This will allow permit holders to buy a pass when it’s most advantageous to them and will ensure that they get a full years worth of use out of it.

Visitor parking permits are also changing. In addition to the short-term passes, an annual visitor permit is being created for residents who live in homes that don’t have driveways. All visitor passes will be transferable, meaning a short-term or annual pass can be used by whoever is visiting. Finally, a pass for shared vehicles (Car Share) will be created to allow Car Share vehicles to park in permit zones.


  • Appointed a new building official
  • Approved a temporary borrowing resolution for this year’s capital budget
  • Repealed the Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary admin order and grants program since the anniversary has now passed
  • Approved several new street names
  • Initiated a planning process for a development in St. Margaret’s Bay
  • Tendered Halifax Transit software upgrade to Trapeze Software Group
  • Finalized the By-law to create a financing program for homeowner who need a new well due to an inadequate water supply
  • Approved a density bonus agreement for 1448-1468 Breton Street valued at $60,000. Money will go to create public art in the sidewalk around the building
  • Approved an exemption to the District Capital Policy to allow Councillor Hendsbee to donate to the Lawrencetown Volunteer Fire Department from the District 2 fund
  • Accepted several requests for staff reports  including for variable highway message signs, a review of the Provincial aid to municipality’s program, an assessment of the Household Special Waste Mobile Program, the potential renewal/replacement of Ticket Atlanitc, and a Roadside Memorial Policy


  1. I’m looking forward to walking on sidewalks which are less smoke and cigarette end filled. I do appreciate that it is a very difficult one to enforce, as is also fining people who discard trash on our streets, but perhaps this will allow us to think about new ways to enforce offences like this. I’m proud to be living in a municipality which will have greater restrictions on smoking than even Singapore!

  2. Have been bothered severely of late with the stench of the esmokes. Boy the smoke that pours out of them at a bus stop.

  3. Would you please elucidate the extent of these parking permits? If there is a one hour morning ban, are the permit holders exempt from that? And what about parking metres? Can permit holders park without paying? And what about snow parking bans? How do these affect permit holders? I have been noticing lately that the back streets (Park, Wentworth, Church, etc.) are quite full of cars whenever I go by during the day.

    • The only additional privileges that permit holders have is the ability to park in areas marked permit only. They still have to respect other parking restrictions and pay at meters.

  4. Could you please clarify if condo owners will be considered neighbourhood residents ( given that they pay property taxes) under the new bylaw and will be permitted to hold a parking permit for either themselves or visitors. As I understand it now condo owners cannot apply for a permit but other residents (homeowners) can hold a permit even if they have a driveway. It would seem somewhat discriminatory to not treat condo owners in the same way as other HRM tax paying residents. They may not have parking and they do have visitors.

    • The bylaw limits applications to people living in buildings with less than four units. I suspect the reason is that most large apartment buildings and condos have lots of off street parking. I will look into this before 2nd reading.

      • Thank you. Some condos do , some don’t . I also note that the Centre Plan proposes fewer parking places (1 for 3) in apartments and condos to promote transit and cycling…. I presume…… with little thought of the transition time required as the transportation paradigm hopefully changes. In fact if I recall the Corridor area development will require no or very minimal parking spaces. Despite the hoped for paradigm shift this will likely put added pressure on existing residential side street parking. Good luck coming up with a fair and equitable bylaw.

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