E-News January 2019


Sportsplex Naming: It has been a long closure, but the Sportsplex renovation is nearly complete. The facility will fully reopen at the end of February and today, the new name has been announced. When it reopens, the Sportsplex will officially be the Zatzman Sportsplex.

The Zatzman name is for Joseph Zatzman, a former grocery store owner and developer, who was involved in a lot of community initiatives over his life, and served as Dartmouth’s mayor from 1964 to 1967. Zatzman was Dartmouth’s first Jewish mayor and was instrumental in the creation of the Burnside Industrial Park. He died in 2012 at age 95. His success as an entrepreneur and commitment to community life has been carried on his by children, who have donated $750,000 to the Sportsplex in honour of their father and mother. The quote below is from Zatzman’s son Michael and is in the press release that went out today:

“Our father’s life and devotion to Dartmouth was remarkable in many ways,” said Michael Zatzman. “His consistent goal throughout his life was to make Dartmouth a better place to live and work. This new facility – and what it means to the community – aligns perfectly with Dad’s life mission.”

The Zatzman donation will go towards helping people access the Sportsplex. Some of the noteworthy programming that it will create includes free access to the track several times a week, some free fitness classes and swimming lessons, and the launch of teen takeover night, which will allow youth free access to the gym and pool on Friday nights. The Sportsplex’s new tagline, Dartmouth “fits” here, is a nod to the facility’s role as a recreation centre for fitness, but also as a community gathering space that is open to everyone. The Zatzman donation is directly helping to accomplish that “fit.”

The new welcome desk at the Zatzman Sportsplex. Photo: Sportsplex Community Association

Unlike corporate naming rights, the Zatzman donation doesn’t come with any strings attached around exclusivity. HRM could still pursue naming rights for specific spaces in the Sportsplex, like the pool or gym, and groups using the Sportsplex won’t be limited by any conflicts between competing sponsorship rights.

I’m generally not a big fan of corporate naming rights. It feels odd to me that we give large corporations naming rights over buildings that have been overwhelmingly paid for with public funds, but it’s hard to say no to “free” money. This one though feels fundamentally different. The Zatzman family certainly doesn’t have to do this and they don’t have an ongoing business interest that is served by the naming of the Sportsplex. This is simply old-fashioned giving by a local family, that has done well, and that wants to give back. Joseph Zatzman is the kind of community figure that we might have named a building after without a donation! This is a good fit for the Sportsplex that stays true to Dartmouth’s history, and that enables a bunch of great programming. I’m pleased with the outcome.

The Zatzman Sportsplex will be open for tours starting in early February, will be open free on Family Day, and will begin normal operations at the end of February. Stay tuned for further details.

Trees Northbrook Park

Northbrook Park Trees: If you’ve been through Northbrook Park in the last two weeks, it’s been hard to miss all the activity. Parks and Recreation has been busily removing several mature trees. The removal of the trees isn’t connected with the nearby apartment development on Richardson Street. The trees in Northbrook are being removed because they were either dead or dying. HRM has a professional forester on staff and the trees being cut down were selected based on his expert advice. Basically, they’re almost all poplars that were planted at the same time and, all being the same age, they’ve reached the end of their life at the same time.

The poplars in Northbrook Park are a classic example of why HRM’s Urban Forestry Plan commits the municipality to planting a variety of tree species so that we don’t end up with situations where they all die at once. It’s just too bad we didn’t have the Urban Forestry Plan several decades ago when the Northbrook Poplars were planted. Above is a picture I snapped from the Sobey’s parking lot last summer when staff and I visited Northbrook Park. Note the two almost leafless Poplars. On first glance, the one in the middle seems healthy, but if you look closely, you can see it too was in decline with dead patches all along the lower half of the trunk and at the top. Shortly, it too would have been a dead stick in the air.

The good news is that Northbrook Park is on Parks and Rec’s capital list for 2019 for a major reinvestment. While it’s really sad to say goodbye to the old giants, new trees will come in 2019, possibly with lighting, a new playground, and other improvements. We’re early in the budget process right now though so I have to emphasize that the list is preliminary and still subject to change. Council is currently working on the budget so we’ll know more in 2-3 months which projects are a go for 2019.

Community Grants: It’s the time of year for grant applications. HRM is currently accepting applications for its events and community grants programs.

Events: grant applications are due January 31 at noon. Event grants fit into four categories: community celebrations, established community festivals, significant anniversaries, and cultural events/showcases. Event grants are meant to support non-profit organizations that put on events, which foster positive community development, celebrate heritage, arts and culture, build bridges between diverse populations, enrich quality of life for residents and improves civic pride in HRM. Eligible events must be open to the general public and be less than 14 days in duration. They range from neighbourhood celebrations to small festivals. For more information on events grants and program eligibility, checkout the grants page on the municipal website here.

Community Grants: The biggest pot of money that HRM provides to non-profits is HRM’s Community Grants Program. Non-profits can receive funding of up to $5,000 for a project grant or up to $25,000 for a capital grant. Funding is awarded by category: (1) arts and crafts, (2) diversity and inclusion, (3) environment, (4) emergency assistance and neighbourhood safety, (5) history, (6) housing, (7) leisure, and (8) recreation. Recipients from 2018 in District 5 included the Dartmouth District Pipe Band, MacPhee Centre, Easter Seals, Banook Canoe Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, St. George’s Tennis Club, and the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club. I would encourage all non-profits to take a look at the Community Grants program. It’s money that will be awarded to someone, why not you? You can checkout the eligibility criteria in the program booklet online on the municipal grants page here. Community Grant applications are due on March 31.

South elevation (Admiralty Place side) for new building at 17 Prince Street

New Apartment Development Prince Street: I have had a few people ask what is being built next to Admiralty Place on Prince Street. The answer is Urchin Properties is constructing a small, five storey apartment building. Five storey’s is the current as-of-right height limit in Downtown Dartmouth, which is why no one has heard much about this development: it didn’t have to go through a political process because it met the existing rules. Below is a rendering of the building as viewed from Admiralty Place.

Public Consultation:

Municipal Budget 2019/2020: As I have covered in a few of my recent Council summaries and December’s e-news, HRM’s budget process for the upcoming fiscal year is underway. As always, the municipality is incorporating ways for residents to provide direct feedback.

Over the next two months, all of HRM’s various departments will appear before Council to explain their proposed budgets. Council set a range for the tax increase’s out-of-pocket bill for the average home of between 1.9% and 2.9%. The department presentations are based on the low option (1.9%). Given that wages and fuel have risen more than 1.9%, that HRM has held the line aggressively on taxes over the last several years, and that commercial assessments aren’t increasing rapidly, I don’t expect that we’ll be able to keep the increase to 1.9%. The options to stay in that narrow 1.9% envelope will likely be too painful (eliminating programs, letting go of police and firefighters, etc). I personally expect Council will land somewhere in the 2.0s, but we’ll have to see what the the implications are for each department.

During the presentations, each department identifies what they’ve had to do without to get to 1.9%. Council then has the opportunity to move items that we would like to take a second look at at the end of the budget process to the options list, aka the “parking lot.” The idea is that once all the presentations are complete, Council will go through the options list to decide which items we want to fund or what additional spending reductions we want to make. When we get to that step, we’ll have been through every department’s budget and will have the complete picture of what the implications are in terms of taxes and services in their entirety. It’s a long, but detailed process.

As part of each department’s presentation, there is an opportunity for members of the public to address Council. This is pretty much the only opportunity the public has to speak directly to Regional Council on a fairly broad range of topics. The schedule for upcoming presentations (subject to change) are as follows so circle your calendar if there is a budget matter you want to share with Council.

Date Department
Jan 23 Halifax Regional Police
Jan 30 Halifax Transit

Transportation and Public Works

Corporate and Customer Service

Feb 1 Capital Budget
Feb 8 Halifax Regional Fire
Feb 6 Parks and Recreation


Planning and Development

Feb 13 Fiscal and Consolidated Accounts

Budget Adjustment List (parking lot review)

April 2 Full budget review

If you plan to attend, please check the Regional Council agenda page to confirm that the presentation you wish to speak to will take place. Contingency dates for if we run over time or lose a day due to a storm are generally on Fridays. Agenda’s are posted just after lunch on Friday the week before here.

Council Updates:

To keep you better 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 January 15
The plastic bag/bin edition of Council along with an update on our multi-year capital budget, a new street name in District 5, and progress with the Province on wetland compensation funding. Read about it here

Council Update January 10
A busy night for community projects in District 5. The Dartmouth Splash Pad, Cancer Survivors Garden, and a disc golf course at North Woodside were all presented at Council. Lots of community groups with plans to make Dartmouth’s parks even better and that are willing to put their own money into doing so. Read about it here


African Heritage Month Opening Night
Thursday, January 24, 7:00 pm
George Dixon Community Centre, 2501 Gottingen Street
Come and enjoy entertainment, open community market, guest speakers, displays and more at opening night for the 35th African Heritage Month at Halifax Public Libraries.

Live Reading with Shawn
Thursday, January 24, 12:30 – 1:00 pm
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre, 45 Ochterloney Street
Join the Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre after lunch for a free live reading of stories from “Out of the Mist: 22 Atlantic Canadian Ghost Stories” compiled by the Evergreen Writers Group. Shawn from Halifax Public Libraries will be the guest reader. Sit back and relax and Shawn takes you on a journey through the ghost stories of our area. This event is a new series so let Shawn know what you want to hear in the future!

Burn by John Muggleton – Dartmouth Players
January 24 – February 9, 2019
The Sawmill Playhouse, 33 Crichton Avenue
Join the Players for spine-tingling evening of chills. Old friends Robert, Samira and David are the only three left of the original gang. Robert’s wife, famed mystery novelist Tara Waters, disappeared five years ago, though Robert insists she’s still alive. Paul, also a writer, died the year before, shortly after reuniting with his estranged daughter Eve. Eve has asked to meet the three friends for the first time, stating that she has something important to deliver. Over the evening’s meeting, Eve becomes awkward, eerie, strange and sinister. As the evening unravels, the chaos erupts with hidden secrets revealed. For tickets or more information visit www.dartmouthplayers.ns.ca or call 1-888-311-9090

Open Mic – Kitchen Party – Coffee House
Friday, January 25, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Upper Hall, Grace United Church, 70 King Street
Drop in for a free “Open-Mic-Kitchen Party-Coffee House” in the Upper Hall. Everyone is welcome. Bring your voice, acoustic instrument and join us in some music – either to perform for us or to try together or just to listen. Beside sharing the joy of music, they’ll be tea or coffee and a treat.

Free Community Skate
Saturday, January 26, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Dartmouth Sportsplex, 110 Wyse Road
The Dartmouth Community Health Board and the Dartmouth Sportsplex are hosting a free public skate on Saturday. After your skate, stick around for refreshments and conversation!

African Heritage Month Flag Raising Ceremony
Friday, February 1, 10:00 am
Grand Parade, 1770 Barrington Street
Raising of the Pan African Flag with special presentation by Dr. Afua Cooper, Halifax’s Poet Laureate, and performance by 13 year old, Zoe Tolliver. 

Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society – On a Wing or a Prayer dinner theatre
Friday, February 1, 7:00 pm
Port Wallis United Church, 263 Waverley Road
The Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society has partnered with the Port Wallis Players for a special fundraising opportunity. Some of the proceeds from the February 1 performance of their 2019 season dinner theatre show, On a Wing or a Prayer, will go to the Dartmouth Heritage Museum.

Join the Port Wallis Players on February 1 at 7:00 pm for a delicious three-course meal and a chuckle (or groan) inducing show. Come along for a hair-raising adventure on Looney Air where hijinks and mayhem will ensue. The performance will be held at Port Wallis United Church, located at 263 Waverley Road, Dartmouth.

Menu includes: Bruschetta and Meatballs, Salad, Stuffed Chicken Breast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Veggies, Chocolate Mousse, Tea and Coffee

Tickets for this performance are available for $50.00 at Evergreen House. Payment can be made in-person at Evergreen (cash, credit, and debit) or by credit over the phone by calling 902-464-2300.  Ticket deliver within HRM available.

Ice Creation’s Richard Chiasson working on an ice sculpture. Chiasson will be one of the artists at the festival

Downtown Dartmouth Ice Festival
Saturday, February 9, 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Portland, Prince and King’s Wharf, Downtown Dartmouth
The winter can be a dreary off-season, particularly February. This February, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and the United Way have partnered to try something new: an ice sculpture festival. Come to Downtown Dartmouth for free activities for all-ages as artist carve up over a dozen giant blocks of ice. Music and entertainment, food and drink, and a street closure on Prince. Musical artist will be the Big Sing, Jody Upshaw, and Scott Saccary of Downtown Dartmouth’s own New Scotland brewery and clothing stores. A heartwarming celebration of local love in support of United Way. More details at: here

Grease – Reel Family Movie Night
Thursday, February 14, 7:00 pm
Alderney Landing Theatre, 2 Ochterloney Street
Alderney’s new family movie nights in the theatre returns on valentines day in February. Get your free golden ticket starting 10 days before February 14th. Please present ticket at door the night of the showing. Concessions will be open at 6:00 pm with hot dogs, popcorn, candy, and a full bar, and Grease costumes are more than welcome!

The Take Action Society Knitting & Craft Club
Mondays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Demetreous Lane Community Centre, 27 Demetreous Lane
Would you like to share some of your knitting, sewing or crafting skills with others? Would you like to participate in knitting scarves, hats, or mitts for residents in community? Or would you just like to engage in some interesting conversations, while enjoying a coffee/tea and some snacks? Then come join us the knitting and craft group on Mondays from 10am-12pm. All are welcome.



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