E-News August 2021

Photo Compilation: CBC


Provincial Election:
As I’m sure everyone is now well aware, a Provincial election has been called and the campaign is underway. The parties have released most of their platforms, and candidate nominations are now complete. What happens in Province House has a big impact on all of our lives. I certainly feel the impact of choices that the Province makes all the time in my work for HRM. There are four areas in particular that are important to HRM that I would encourage you to think about as you consider your vote:

Climate Change
Our world is on fire. At least the part that isn’t drowning, or freezing. Extreme weather is increasingly the new reality. The impact that our civilization is having on our planet is undeniable and the cost of our collective inaction is adding up. Several hundred Canadians died just a few weeks ago in the extreme and unprecedented heat wave that hit the West Coast. We’re not immune. Urgent action is needed.

HRM has a solid Climate Change Plan that is based on what it would actually take to live up to our Paris commitments, but we can’t achieve it without the Province. We’ve collectively squandered the opportunity to change incrementally and now we must move with purpose. There is still an opportunity to limit the damage from climate change. Please consider climate change and the ecological crisis that we face when you cast your vote.

The other crisis that we’re facing is around housing. Our booming economy has increased the demand for housing and sent rents and house prices skyward. The housing crisis affects everyone, but it’s the most vulnerable who are experiencing the worst of it. HRM’s main jurisdiction around housing is over land-use planning and HRM has done a lot over the last few years in the areas we control.

Unfortunately, most of the problems around housing are in areas that are firmly Provincial. The Province operates housing, the Province controls tenancy and rents, the Province delivers mental health and addiction services, and its the Province that provides income assistance. It’s unacceptable that in a society as wealthy as ours that we have people sleeping in cars, tents, sheds, and on benches. Success on housing needs to be measured by whether people have a home. Solving this requires action from the Province on multiple fronts. Please consider housing and its associated social issues when you cast your vote.

HRM has some ambitious plans when it comes to transportation. The Rapid Transit Strategy sets out a network of ferries and bus rapid transit lines in HRM. The cost though is significant. There are federal dollars available, but they’re dependent on the Province contributing their share and the Province has, historically, not seen a role for itself in funding transit beyond one-off special projects. The Provincial commitment to the first phase of transit electrification and to the Bedford Ferry is important, but it’s not enough. We shouldn’t leave federal dollars on the table. We need the Province to love transit the way they love highway twinning. Please consider transit when you cast your vote.

Notice the absence of teal (Provincial funding) in Atlantic Canada compared to elsewhere in the country

HRM-Provincial Relations
Admittedly this is a difficult one to turn into any sort of ballot box question, but if a candidate knocks on your door, I would encourage you to raise with them reforming the relationship between HRM and the municipality. The way the HRM Charter works is it provides the municipality with a long list of what we can do. Anything not on the list, however, is beyond HRM’s powers. We can only do what’s listed.

Since no one will ever be able to anticipate every problem, or solution, the result is we’re constantly going to the Province requesting Charter amendments. Some of HRM’s requests get actioned, sometimes we get part of what we asked for, and sometimes requests are refused entirely. The process is cumbersome and bureaucratic and doesn’t serve anyone terribly well. There are alternatives.

Instead of a list, the Province could provide a more general grant of power in the Charter by subject area. Some Provinces have already done this, but Nova Scotia isn’t one of them. HRM is as big as PEI with three times the population. It’s time to treat HRM like an equal order of government.

So that’s it from me. You can check out the party platforms online (Liberal, NDP, PC, Green). Voting is open now until election day on August 17th. For information on where to vote check out the Province’s website here. Please go vote.

District 5 Budget Video
Wondering what HRM is up to this construction season in Dartmouth Centre? I did a video to walk you through of all the major HRM projects on the go from the 2021 budget. From roads, to parks, to lakes, to splash pads. Check it out on youtube below:

Centennial Pool
A quick note about Centennial Pool. As folks in the competitive swimming community well know, the Pool has been closed for a while. Centennial is one of only two 50 metre pools in HRM and, as a result, it’s an important facility for competitive swimming. Centennial is aging and, unfortunately, the pool has sprung a leak. It has proven to be much more difficult than expected to find the source and carry out repairs. HRM is currently expecting to be able to reopen Centennial in September.

Maple Thistle Sewer Separation
Halifax Water is going to be digging up the upper block of Maple Street and part of Thistle Street this week. The work will separate the combined sewer/stormwater system. Some of the stormwater infrastructure in the area is already separated. A stormwater pipe runs from Rose Street, down Maple and then joins into the Sawmill River near the Lock4@Starr condo. The last section of Maple going up the hill from Rose to Thistle, however, isn’t separated, meaning that rainwater falling on this upper portion and running off Brightwood flows into the sewer and ends up going to the treatment plant.

Combined sewers are vulnerable to overflows since rain comes in surges. A sewer overflow is much messier and potentially damaging to property (backups into homes) than pooling stormwater. There have been some issues on this portion of Thistle that this project will address. To complete the separation, Maple and Thistle will be closed this week to through traffic so plan to take alternate routes.

Summer Concert Series
Live music has returned to Downtown Dartmouth. In addition to the community organized Sullivan’s Sessions at Sullivan’s Pond, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and HRM have partnered to bring music to Ferry Terminal Park. The summer concert series runs until September 14 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Check out the Business Commission’s webpage here for the upcoming line up as it becomes available.

Crime Reporting
Did you know that you can file reports for minor crimes online? When, for example, someone rifles through your vehicle, it can feel like something that’s not worth reporting. Halifax Regional Police, however, want that data. They use crime reporting, even for minor offences, when making decisions on how to distribute resources. It can also be useful in identifying patterns that then might even lead to a future arrest. It’s valuable information for them and it only takes a minute or two to file. You can make a crime report online here.

Neighbourhood Speed Limit Reduction Road Safety | Halifax
Photo: HRM

40 km/hr Streets
HRM has recently adopted some additional 40 km/hr streets, which has sparked a few requests to me for streets in District 5. So I thought it would be useful to share how this process is unfolding.

First, the default speed limit in Nova Scotia is 50 km/hr. HRM doesn’t have the ability to post less than that without getting special permission from the Provincial Traffic Authority. To get permission, HRM has to apply on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis. This is a cumbersome process that doesn’t add any real value. HRM designs the streets, builds the streets, polices the streets, and has its own engineers and experts. There is really nothing added by the Province vetting each less than 50 km/hr request. HRM had hoped that the power to post slower speed limits would be delegated in the new Traffic Safety Act, but the government explicitly decided not to do that (CBC article). So we’re stuck with the current cumbersome process.

What the Province expects of HRM is for us to submit bundles of similar streets in a neighbourhood. Staff have been selecting streets to submit primarily based on traffic calming requests. Each request to the Province has to include speed data for most streets in the area. If the 85th percentile speed (the speed that 85 per cent of the traffic is travelling at or below) is greater than 50 km/hr, the Province won’t approve the request. To be signed 40 km/hr, the Province requires the existing speeds to be under 50. So some of the streets I have been asked about, like Sinclair and Lancaster, are ineligible and must wait until traffic calming projects are completed first to lower their existing speeds. You can see the current list of ranked streets in the traffic calming program and the list for data collection this year on HRM’s website here.

If you would like your own street considered for 40 km/hr, the best approach would be to submit a request for traffic calming. You can do so by calling 311 or emailing contactus@halifax.ca. Best to check the HRM website before reaching out to see if your street has already been assessed or is on the list for data collection this year.

Transit Electrification
HRM’s first electric buses will be arriving in 2024! HRM, the Province, and the Federal government announced on July 15 that all three orders of government have partnered to share the $112 million cost of buying 60 electric buses and upgrading the Ragged Lake Transit Garage to be able to operate them. Once they’re in full operation, the new electric bus fleet will cut HRM’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3,800 tonnes annually. One of the other benefits of electrification is electric buses are quiet. On busy streets, eliminating the roar of diesel buses will make a significant improvement to the public realm.

The upgrades at Ragged Lake are a major step forward for electrification, but it’s not an end point. To fully electrify the transit fleet, HRM will need to upgrade the Burnside Transit Garage as well. The cost of fixing Burnside is even greater than Ragged Lake. Hopefully the federal and provincial governments will also support that upcoming major project.

Photo: CBC

New Fire Boat
You might notice something new on the Dartmouth waterfront, a fire boat. The boat is named Kjipuktuk, which is the Mi’kmaq name for Halifax Harbour. Mi’kmaq Chief Deborah Robinson and elder Jane Abrahm were on hand for the dedication in July. The new boat is a major step up from the old inflatable boat and gives the fire department much more capacity to fight fires around the Harbour and carry out water rescues. Look for the Kjipuktuk at its berth at Alderney.

Ferry Disruptions
Due to work that Nova Scotia Power needs to complete, the Halifax Ferry Terminal will be without electricity for two evenings in August. Monday August 9 starting at 8:00 pm and Monday August 16 starting at 10:00 pm. A lack of power at the Halifax Ferry Terminal will prevent the ferry from operating at those times. Transit will be operating a shuttle service on the same schedule to replace the ferry during the shutdown.

With the summer season comes an uptick in fireworks complaint. I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that personal fireworks are pretty much not permitted in the urban core by the Noise Bylaw. The Noise Bylaw allows fireworks on New Year’s Eve, Canada Day, Natal Day, and on recognized religious holidays up until 1:00 am. On any other day, fireworks violate the Noise Bylaw if the sound is audible “at the point of reception,” which basically means if you can hear your neighbour’s fireworks, they’re violating the Noise Bylaw. Givne how close together homes are in District 5, it’s pretty much a given that backyard fireworks will be heard by someone.

So if fireworks are basically banned except for three nights a year, why are they constantly in use? HRM doesn’t have the ability to restrict the sale of fireworks. The result of having them readily available is that they’re frequently put to use in violation of the Noise Bylaw. Fireworks noise complaints can be made to Halifax Regional Police by calling the non-emergency number at 902-490-5020.

Placemaking (sidewalk chalk)
Like pretty much everything else in our world, HRM’s placemaking program has been impacted by COVID. The big community get togethers to create art that has been part and parcel of the placemaking program just haven’t been possible. So, instead, HRM is offering do it yourself placemaking in the form of free sidewalk chalk kits.

Sidewalk chalk can be a creative outlet for kids of all ages and the young at heart. Each sidewalk chalk kit contains 48 pieces of chalk for sharing amongst all the households on a block, street, or even an entire neighbourhood. It’s a way to create temporary art together, while still being physically apart.

To get a kit, contact Dartmouth’s community developer, Darren Hirtle, at hirtled@halifax.ca or fill out an online application. Applications are on a first come, first served basis and are being accepted up until August 13.

COVID Drop-In Clinics
The Department of Health’s two HRM COVID vaccine clinics have now switched to accepting drop-ins in addition to booked appointments. The Dartmouth clinic is located besides Chapters at Mic Mac Mall (39 Micmac Boulevard), while the Halifax clinic is located at the Forum. Both clinics are open from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, seven days a week. You can drop in or book an appointment online here or by calling 1-833-797-7772. Each clinic will be open to 200 drop ins per day.

Public Consultation

Thistle and Maple Townhouse proposal

Public Hearing
Maple and Thistle Townhouses
August 5, 6:00 pm

A public hearing to consider a townhouse development at the corner of Thistle Street and Maple Street (where the old O’Reagan’s car dealership was) will be held at the next Harbour East Community Council meeting on August 5. The proposed development is a townhouse style with 20 over/under units. Parking and a small playground would be located behind the townhouses. Access would be from Maple Street, but the driveway would only allow right turns in and out due to the proximity of the intersection with Maple Street (earlier versions of this proposal had proposed a regular driveway that would have allowed left turns).

The townhouse application was complete before the Centre Plan was finalized and is, therefore, being considered under the old rules. Staff are recommending that Council approve the development. You can review details of the project online on HRM’s website here.

If you would like to make a submission on this proposal to Council, you can do so by writing clerks@halifax.ca or myself. Written submissions must be received by 3:00 pm August 4 to be considered by Council. If you would like to speak during the public hearing, you can do so by phone, but you must sign-up in advance. To register to speak, please contact the Clerks office at clerks@halifax.ca or by calling 902-490-4210 by 4:30 pm August 4.

Proposed development at the corner of Wyse and Nantucket

Public Hearing
112 and 114 Wyse Road Development
August 5, 6:00 pm

The August 5 meeting of Harbour East Community Council will feature a second public hearing for a District 5 project. The second hearing will be to consider a proposed 20 storey mixed-used building at the corner of Wyse and Nantucket at the old Scotiabank property. The building would hold 2,415 square metres of commercial space and 160 residential units. The application was complete before the Centre Plan was finalized and is, therefore, being considered under the old rules. Staff are recommending that Council approve the development. You can review details of the project online on HRM’s website here.

If you would like to make a submission on this proposal to Council, you can do so by writing clerks@halifax.ca or myself. Written submissions must be received by 3:00 pm August 4 to be considered by Council. If you would like to speak during the public hearing, you can do so by phone, but you must sign-up in advance. To register to speak, please contact the Clerks office at clerks@halifax.ca or by calling 902-490-4210 by 4:30 pm August 4.

Accessible Taxi Survey
Back in February, Regional Council approved contracting for an accessible taxi-style service. Under this new program, HRM will pay a fee to the contracted company to provide an accessible taxi-style service, while users will pay the standard taxi rate for trips. The reason HRM is contracting for this service is because past efforts to grow the fleet of accessible taxis in HRM have been unsuccessful, largely due to the high cost of acquiring and operating an accessible taxi. I wrote about the issue in my Council blog when it was before Council here.

The new contracted accessible taxi service will be required to meet specific standards, and HRM is looking for feedback on what these standards should be, how many vehicles should be available, how should customers be able to book a trip, and more. Check out the online survey here.

Photo: HRM

Dartmouth North Active Transportation Survey
HRM is planning for street upgrades in Dartmouth North as part of the Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP). The IMP commits HRM to a minimum grid of cycling infrastructure, which includes connections into Dartmouth North and onto Burnside. Like the Flower Streets Complete Streets project, HRM is looking to make improvements in Dartmouth North that are about more than just making the streets safer for cyclists. The goal for the upcoming projects is to also make it easier to get around in Dartmouth North by foot. Consultation for the project’s first phase is open now and HRM is looking for feedback on your experience in biking, walking, and rolling in Dartmouth North. You can complete the survey online here.

Council Updates

To keep you informed about what is going on at Council, I’m writing a regular blog after each meeting. Each of my entries is about what I saw as noteworthy from a District 5 perspective and my views on the issues. We might not always agree, but I think it’s important to provide a record of how I voted and why.

Council Update July 20
A very long day at Council (10 am – 11:00 pm). Decisions on the Otter Lake landfill, Provincial road transfer, Parks and Rec fees, and an expanded Solar City program. Read about it here.


This is a new item I’m trying out in my newsletter. Each week, staff provide Council with a list of tenders that have been posted and what the CAO has awarded. I always scan through the list looking for District 5 items. It’s a good way to keep tabs on what’s going on!

I have been thinking that tender information might be of interest to residents as well and, since I look through the list each week anyway, the additional work for me should be fairly manageable. So I’m adding this section on a trial basis. Let me know if you find it useful or if it’s just too much info in an already long monthly newsletter. Should I include tenders that are posted or stick to just those that have actually been awarded? I expect it’ll be a section that will be fairly big during the construction season, but will shrink considerably during the winter months when there is a lot less activity.

If you would like more info on any of HRM’s tender, all of them are posted on the Provincial tender website here. You can generally find them by searching for a key word. Below is a summary of the District 5 related tenders over the last month. A word of caution, while most tenders end up awarded, sometimes HRM doesn’t receive any valid bids or something might come up that causes HRM to rethink the approach. Things are never really truly final until a tender is actually awarded.

Alderney Gate Lobby Renovations
Closed August 3

The big renovation project for Alderney’s lobby. New gathering space, removal of the Library’s curtain wall, and a new public washroom. A continuation of the excellent work already completed in the Pedway

Phase 2 of the Alderney revitalization project

Alderney Library Workroom
Awarded Blunden Construction, $158,000

Minor renovations for the behind the scenes staff space at the Library.

Aquatic Weed Harvesting, Banook and Micmac
Awarded EuroCan Bio Marine, $135,572

Weed harvesting on Lake Banook and Micmac to ensure that aquatic plants don’t interfere with the considerable recreational activities that take place on both lakes.

Dartmouth Lawn Bowl Green
Closing August 4

A new green for the Dartmouth Lawn Bowling Club in North Woodside.

Dartmouth North Community Centre (District 5 adjacent!)
Closing August 20

Renovations of the Dartmouth North Community Centre space. Project includes a new entranceway, new washrooms, and a major reconfiguration of the lobby and program spaces. The combination of this project and the library renovation that is already underway will be a completely redone facility.

Flower Streets Complete Streets Project
Closing August 4

A bunch of significant road safety improvements in the Flower Streets focussed on Dahlia Street. Dahlia Street is becoming a local street bikeway to provide a connection from the Common/Bridge through to Lake Banook. To make this connection a safe one, HRM will install a new crosswalk at Dahlia and Victoria, and traffic calming on Dahlia (speed humps and curb extensions). The project also includes a new sidewalk on Dahlia from Beech all the way around to the intersection of Oak and Tulip, a new crosswalk with lights from the new sidewalk to Sullivan’s Pond, a small extension of the multi-use trail behind the rhodendrons at Sullivan’s Pond, traffic calming on Maple Street (alternating curb extensions), and a new sidewalk along the Common from the Dahlia entrance to Bicentennial School. The end result is going to be a major improvement for the neighbourhood and everyone who passes through it. The sidewalk component of this project might spillover into Spring 2022. We’ll have to see what the results of the tender are.

Grahams Grove Building
Closing August 6

Very excited about this project. The hodgepodge of existing buildings at Grahams Grove are going to be replaced with two new structures. The new buildings will have space for the dragon boat club, a public washroom, and space for the Kiwanis, including the Kiwanis ice cream booth.

Paving Investigation
Awarded Englobe Corp, $170,528

Investigative work for potential future paving projects. Work includes an assessment of existing condition, and recommendations for repairs and maintenance. Three District 5 streets included:

  • Albro Lake Road from Pinecrest to Ernest
  • Sea King Drive from Ernest to Lancaster
  • Pinehill Drive from Albro Lake to Woodland

Photo Enforcement Study
Closing August 10

Study into how HRM can implement photo enforcement for speeding and other traffic violations. Photo radar will become possible when the new Transportation Safety Act is proclaimed into law by the Province. This study is being down so that HRM can hit the ground running when that happens.

Planer Patching (aka Paving)
Awarded Atlantic Road Construction and Paving, $1,028,981

A skim coat of new paving to extend the life of existing roads, or, in some cases, to buy time before a major project is possible. Several streets in District 5 are included in this multi-district tender:

  • Hawthorne, Pleasant from Prince Arthur to Atlantic
  • Slayter from Woodland to Thistle
  • Windmill from Dawson to Wyse Road

Regional Centre Bike Network Project Management
Awarded Colliers Project Management, $399,500

Consulting services to help deliver the Regional Centre Bike Network by 2024. Significant District 5 portions of the bike network that still need to be built include Slayter Street local bikeway, Albro Lake Road bike lanes, Harbour Trail to Lake Banook, and Harris local bikeway.

Renfrew Street Paving/Sidewalk
Awarded Dexter Construction, $2,375,049

A complete rebuild of Renfrew Street. New paving, and water and sewer work. The big change that will happen as part of this project is Renfrew Street is being narrowed so that a sidewalk can be added to one side of the street. The trade-off is parking will be limited to one side of the street, but the end result is a much safer street for everyone. Two speed humps on Chadwick are also included in this project.

Silver’s Hill Park
Closed July 16
Major project at Silver’s Hill Park. Project includes replacing the existing bleachers, new pathways, new stairs, and a new seating area further down the hill.

Concept for Silver’s Hill


Shubenacadie Canal History Hikes
August (starting August 4

The Shubenacadie Canal Commission will be hosting a series of tours throughout August. Tour guides Braden McLaughlin and Richard MacMichael will be hosting free tours in Shubie Park and at the Shubenacadie Canal Marine Railway on Prince Albert Road in Downtown Dartmouth. Details on the two offerings below:

History Hikes at Shubie
Wednesday and Saturdays, 11:00 am
Fairbanks Centre

The construction of the Shubenacadie Canal was one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in Nova Scotia in the 1800s. Walk in the footsteps of the visionaries who drove the project forward and the workers whose hard labour completed the task with one of our History Hikes. You’ll learn the fascinating story of the Canal while exploring the industrial archaeology along the Canal trails. You’ll also find out how you can enjoy the many opportunities the Canal and its trails have to offer.

History Hikes depart from the Fairbanks Centre and are free of charge, but donations are welcome. The tour lasts approximately 30 – 40 minutes. Limit of 10 people per tour.

Tour the Flume House
Thursdays 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Starr Park, 58 Prince Albert Rd

Explore the historic Shubenacadie Canal Marine Railway with free guided tours every Thursday throughout August from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Between 1861 and 1871, the marine railway carried boats and barges overland between Dartmouth Cove and Sullivan’s Pond, from which they could sail through the rest of the canal to the Bay of Fundy. The building is a modern replica of the flume house that powered the railway, featuring full-scale recreations of the gears and machinery that made the system run.

Tours are free of charge, but donations to the Shubenacadie Canal Commission are welcome.

Sullivan’s Pond Concert Series
August 14, 3:00 – 6:00 pm

The next Sullivan’s Pond concert will take place on August 14. Come check out live music at Sullivan’s Pond! For more information, check out the Sullivan’s Sessions page here.

Back to the Sea Society
The Back to the Sea Society’s Touch Tank Hut is making a return this summer. The Touch Tank is located next to the boat launch/marina on the north side of the parking lot at Alderney Landing. Come meet some of the critters that live in our very own waters. Visits must be pre-booked. For more information check out the Back to the Sea Society’s page here.

1 Comment

  1. Due to the bike network from bridge through the Commons, some cyclists are racing through the lights at Wyse and Thistle and coming up on sidewalk to go into the Commons.
    This is while pedestrians are waiting to cross Wyse. Is there a plan for a safer option here?

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