Alderney Placemaking: Ever spent anytime in the plaza around the side and back of the Alderney Library? Unless you’re a smoker who works in Alderney, the answer to that is probably no. The outdoor space around the building is pretty much dead space with no activity whatsoever. It’s really underused, which isn’t surprising since there is nothing there, the building presents a closed-off blank face to it, and the space is a U shape that doesn’t connect to anything else, meaning that there is no through traffic. It’s a difficult spot to activate, but we also really haven’t tried.
To try and add some life to the outdoor space, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, the Halifax Public Libraries, and I have partnered with the Dalhousie School of Planning and the Planning and Design Centre to explore options. This project is being guided by students from Dal who will provide a starting point for actual improvements. The students were at the Library and market last week gathering public feedback and ideas and will be back once they have produced some concepts for the public to look at.
In a few years time, the Alderney Branch Library is slated for a major renovation. This much smaller placemaking project is a great opportunity to experiment with activating the outdoor space, like has been done at Keshen Goodman and Dartmouth North, prior to the planned major renovation to see what works and what doesn’t.
If you have ideas or suggestions, for how the Alderney plaza could be made more inviting and put to use, you can reach out to the students via the project’s facebook page here.
Halifax Water Rates: As you might have caught in the news, Halifax Water has submitted a rate increase application to the Utility and Review Board. Halifax Water has to go to the UARB because it is an independent utility. Halifax Water is owned by the municipality, but it’s the Board of Commissioners and not Council that manages the utility (a number of Councillors sit on board as Commissioners but there are also several citizen members). It has been four years since Halifax Water’s last rate increase and if the UARB approves the new one, water rates will increase from $0.976 per cubic meter to $1.085, which equals about $3.68 a month for the average customer. The increase will occur in September and will be followed by a second increase to $1.201 per cubic meter on April 1, 2021.
No one likes having to pay more. Unfortunately though, Halifax Water, like everyone else, faces rising costs every year in terms of electricity, fuel, wages, and chemicals, as well as having to fund a substantial capital program to deal with aging infrastructure. Halifax Water has substantial assets to maintain, included 3,800 kms of pipe (enough to stretch all the way to Saskatchewan). The only source of cash available to cover costs are water bills and, although the Utility has managed to trim operational costs by about $5 million over the last several years, rate inevitably have to go up. Luckily for us, Halifax Water’s rates compare very favourably to those charged in other municipalities across the country. We’re likely going to pay more over the next two years, but we generally pay less than other Canadians for water and sewer services.
When Halifax Water was before Council to present their annual business plan, I asked them why they don’t raise rates in smaller amounts every year rather than leaving rates unchanged for several years before applying for a substantial increase (5.8% in this case). Smaller more frequent increases are generally easier for people to budget for than large spikes. The general manager, indicated that the intent is to do exactly that in the future. So future rate increases are likely to be smaller, but more frequent.
I know that, unfortunately, not everyone’s income rises with expenses and there are folks in the community who feel the pressure of rising costs, particularly lately as our low vacancy rates drive up rents. For anyone in need, Halifax Water does offer an assistance program. For more information on getting help paying your water bill, checkout Halifax Water’s page here.
Wifi Expansion: HRM has completed the next phase of its public wifi project. Wifi is now available at the Oval. The Oval joins the Public Gardens, our Libraries, and Alderney, as well as transit terminals including the Ferry, Bridge, and Lacewood as locations where public wifi is provided free of charge.
Craig Gallery Media Wall: The Craig Gallery is expanding on its artistic offerings with the introduction of a media wall. This 70″ screen is located outside the gallery and creates an opportunity for film, video, and digital art to be shown. Artists interested in exhibiting their work should contact Lee Cripps by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Still with the Craig, the Art Cart project will be officially launching on March 17. Art Carts is what it sounds like, art in a movable cart. The idea is to bring art outside the walls of the gallery to engage the public and offer people a chance to try things out for themselves. The launch on the 17th will feature St. Paddy’s Day DIY pins, music, and facepainting. On the 18th there will be textiles, weaving, knitting, sewing and felting, and then on the 19th, wood burning, carving, and sculpture building. I’m very excited to see how this project evolves. Many thanks to the staff at Alderney Landing, particularly the Craig’s curator Lee Cripps, for all the passion and work she has put into making Art Cart a reality.
HRM Tree Cities: HRM’s urban forestry efforts have been recognized by the United Nations as the municipality has been designated as a Tree City of the World. The international program celebrates cities all around the world that adopt core standards for planning and care of urban trees. HRM met the five core standards of:
- Established responsibility
- Clear rules
- Knowing what we have
- Allocating resources
- Celebrating achievements
The key to securing this designation is HRM’s Urban Forestry Plan and all the programming that stems from that from planting, to pruning, to cataloging, and celebrating trees. Checkout the video below to learn why trees are important to HRM (they provide so much that it’s worth the hassle of trimming them)
Centre Plan Package B: Today is a big day for the Centre Plan, Package B is being released. The Centre Plan is HRM’s new plan to guide development in the urban core (Peninsula Halifax and Dartmouth inside the Circ). The portion that applies to growth areas has already been adopted (Package A). Next up, new zoning for the established residential areas, and institutional and employment centres (Package B). Package B will be available for review at centreplan.ca (at the time I’m writing this the interaction zoning map on centreplan.ca has been updated). The Centre Plan team will be out consulting with the public about Package B throughout March and April. Checkout the complete schedule here. Of particular note
- General public meeting, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, March 23, Alderney Theatre
- Established residential areas (Dartmoth), 6:00 – 8:00 pm March 30, Mic Mac Aquatic Club
- Industrial, Waterfront, and Noise Bylaw, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, April 6, NSCC Waterfront Campus
If all goes according to plan, Package B will come before Council for adoption in September.
Rapid Transit: HRM is developing a strategy to establish a rapid transit network. The idea of the rapid transit network is to make transit fast and reliable by providing transit options that are frequent and that have their own dedicated right-of-way. HRM is currently considering doing that through bus rapid transit, and through an expansion of the ferry network. The proposed rapid transit network will focus on areas where there is population density and lots of employment. In Dartmouth, that includes bus corridors on Portland Street out to Portland Hills and from Bridge Terminal out to Dartmouth Crossing/Burnside via Highfield.
HRM is currently gathering public feedback on the idea. For more information and to take the survey, visit the Shape Your City page here. HRM will also be holding a variety of pop-up sessions to gather public feedback, including in the Alderney Landing Pedway (10:00 am – 12:00 pm, March 6). For a complete schedule of pop ups click here.
Public Hearing, Portland Street Development
Thursday, April 3, 6:00 pm
Harbour East Community Council Chamber, 60 Alderney Drive (across the library entrance)
On Thursday, Harbour East Community Council will formally schedule a public hearing to consider a proposed development on Portland Street. The hearing will then take place on April 3. The proposal is for three buildings, two six storey buildings on Portland Street, and a third four storey building on a vacant lot behind the proposed development (between Portland and Rodney Road).
You can read the planning department’s report, which recommends Harbour East accept the proposal, online here. If you wish to provide feedback, you can email Harbour East via email@example.com or by attending the public hearing. At the public hearing, staff will present their report, the developer will have 10 minutes to present his project, and then members of the public will have the opportunity to address Council (5 minutes per person). At the end of the evening, Council will make a decision.
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, February 25: No premium fare for Transit’s airport bus route, review of Halifax Water’s 2020 Business Plan, quieter fireworks, and changes to construction mitigation requirements (bad news for rats). Read about it here
Council Update, February 12: The 2020 budget comes together with Council’s trip through the options list. What additional items received funding, and what it means for the tax bill and the municipal debt. Full details here.
Council Update, January 28 and February 11: A fair bit of District 5 stuff on the agenda, including heritage status for the Findlay Community Centre, approval of the Dartmouth splashpad location, planning for the canoe/kayak course at Banook, secondary suites, and streetscaping. All the District 5 details here.
Council Update, January 14: Approval of substantial changes to the plan for King’s Wharf. Read about it here.
HRM Parks and Rec Program Registration
Tuesday, March 4, 10:00 am (excluding aquatics)
Tuesday, March 11, 10:00 am (aquatics)
Spring registration for HRM’s Parks and Rec programming will open on March 4 for all programs, except aquatics. Aquatics registration will begin the following week on March 11. For more details about programs and to create a Rec account visit HRM’s page here. Summer registration is planned for April 1.
Shift Equity Conference
March 6 – 7, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Alderney Landing Theatre (March 6)
Halifax North Memorial Library (March 7)
Dalhousie’s annual free planning conference will be taking place March 6 – 7. This free conference is open to the public and this year will focus on what we need to do to create an accessible and equitable HRM. Keynote speakers include Lezlie Lowe, Houssam Elokda, Ted Rutland, and David Wachsmuth. To see the full schedule for the conference, checkout Dalhousie’s page here.
March Break at Alderney Library
Saturday March 14 – Friday March 20
Alderney Library and other branches
Halifax Public Libraries will have a lot of special March Break programming at its various branches. Close at home in our District 5 branch, they’ll be a chess tournament, a screening of Aladdin, origami, a cooking worship for kids, science music, a Fire and Ice science show, and block play. For full details on events, visit the Library’s page here.
Art Cart Launch
Tuesday, March 17, noon – 4:00 pm
Wednesday, March 18, noon – 4:00 pm
Thursday, March 19, noon – 4:00 pm
Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing
Stop by Alderney Landing to checkout the launch of the Craig Gallery’s new Arts Cart program. Activities for launch day will include St Patrick’s Day pin making, music, and facepainting. Day two will be dedicated to textiles including weaving, knitting, sewing and felting. Day three is all about wood, including burning, carving, and sculpture. 0-99 welcome.
St. Patrick’s Day Lunch
Tuesday, March 17, 11:45 am – 12:45 pm
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre
45 Ochterloney Street
Celebrate St. Patty’s day with a lunch at the Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre. Door prize of a 1 night stay at the Westin Nova Scotia, including breakfast, and two tickets to Yuk Yuks. $10 for members, $15 for non-members. To book tickets for the lunch, call 902-465-5578 ext 213.
Tropical Nights Dance
Friday, March 27, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre
45 Ochterloney Street
Summer is still a few months away, but it’s going to be tropical at the Dartmouth Seniors Centre. $18 for members, $22 for non-members. To book tickets for this themed dance, call 902-465-5578 ext 213.
Symphony Nova Scotia at Alderney
Sunday, March 29, 1:30 pm
Symphony Nova Scotia returns to Alderney Landing for a Sunday afternoon performance. Three symphonic masterworks, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, and Beethoven’s 3rd symphony, Eroica. Tickets can be purchased at the Alderney Landing Box Office or via ticketpro ($24 – $46 depending on seating).
Master Composter Recycler Program
Wednesday, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Saturday 9 am – 12:00 pm, April 29 – May 27
Captain William Spry Community Centre, 16 Sussex Street, Spryfield
The Master Composter Recycler is a free four week program that trains residents in hands-on workshops and tours on how to reduce waste through backyard composting and other at-home solutions. Program is open to all residents interested in becoming champions for waste diversion in their community. For more information, visit the HRM website page here. Registration can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org