E-News July 2019


Northbrook Park: As folks who frequent Northbrook Park have noticed, work is underway to implement the new Park plan. The existing playground was at the end of its life and has been torn down. A new playground will be installed this year. After publishing my June e-news, a number of people reached out to express concern about HRM’s plan to put the new playground by the old ball diamond off Richmond Street. The feedback on moving the playground was decidedly negative with people indicating that they value the current location because of its proximity to the babbling brook and the nearby mature trees. People also expressed concern that reverting the current playground to passive greenspace would make it once again an after-hours hangout.

One of the reasons why I publish an e-newsletter with everything that I think people might be interested in is because HRM doesn’t always get it right. It’s far easier to correct mistakes before they happen than after the fact and the only way that works is if people know what’s going on. Based on the overwhelmingly negative feedback on moving the playground from the people who know Northbrook best, the neighbourhood, HRM has revised the plan. The playground at Northbrook won’t be relocated to the old ball diamond, it’ll remain in its current location. Once the old equipment is demolished, a new set of swings and new play structure will be installed. I want to publicly thank HRM’s staff for being flexible and open to responding to the community concerns.

As for the rest of the Northbrook Plan, HRM is still working to finalize details, which will include lighting, better pedestrian connections to adjacent streets, and, possibly, daylighting a small portion of the brook that’s currently underground. The work will likely be phased in over multiple years as it has become a more sizable project than Parks was first anticipating. I will update everyone again once a full draft of the Plan is finished. For starters this year, it’s a new playground in the same spot where it has always been.

Birch Cove during a July closed day: Photo Metro

Banook Water Quality: As detailed in my print newsletter, HRM has completed a Pollution Control Study of Lake Banook and Lake Micmac. The study was principally looking at concentrations and sources of phosphorus and ecoli in the lakes. The study found that phosphorus readings were less than expected and that ecoli entering the Lakes is coming from a variety of sources. The report makes a number of specific recommendations that HRM staff will assess in their report to Council, which is expected to come forward in the next couple of months.

Although staff haven’t finished their review yet, HRM did immediately take action on one of the recommendations: investigating Halifax Water’s infrastructure to make sure there are no direct sewer connections into the Lakes. Halifax Water carried out a very detailed review of the stormwater system that spills out by Mic Mac Mall and Brookdale Crescent. They were looking to see if there were any cross connections that shouldn’t be there. Halifax Water’s work included site visits, water sampling over various time periods and in different weather conditions, inspection of manholes and catchbasins, and the utility even deployed “rag catchers” to snag any debris coming through the pipes by Brookdale Crescent. No sign of sewage and no significant ecoli readings were identified in their work. Halifax Water found no evidence of a wastewater stormwater cross connection or a leaking pipe.

Halifax Water also reviewed their records to confirm that all homes along the lakes have a wastewater account with the utility and they all do. This doesn’t appear to be a situation of old pipes or septic systems from days gone by seeping into the lake (a suggestion that a few people have raised at various times).

So the good news is that we don’t appear to have a direct sewage issues in Lake Banook or Lake Micmac. HRM will be following up with Stantec to review the study results.

Floating Yellow Heart. Photo: Ontario Invasive Species Awareness Program

Little Albro Lake: If you live around Little Albro Lake, you might have noticed the provincial department of Fisheries and Aquaculture out on the lake. The Province was carrying out a fish sampling program to better understand what fish live in Little Albro. The sampling program was carried out in cooperation with HRM. The work is needed in response to a motion I made at Council regarding the Floating Yellow Heart infestation in Little Albro.

Floating Yellow Heart is an invasive species native to Asia that looks similar to some of our native lilies. It’s a very aggressive plant and since it was first spotted in Little Albro just over a decade ago, it has spread to cover the whole shoreline area of the lake. There is virtually nothing else growing in Little Albro besides Floating Yellow Heart. HRM is looking at what options might exist to control Yellow Heart and since the Province regulates activities in the lakes, an understanding of Little Albro’s aquatic environment is needed before any approvals can be granted. The Province has not volunteered to assist with battling Floating Yellow Heart, but the assistance in cataloging the lake environment is a start and is appreciated.

The mobi chair and pathway at Big Albro. Photo: Tim Krochak

Lake Accessibility Upgrades: Still with the Albros, HRM has recently completed accessibility upgrades at Big Albro Beach. The municipality has extended a path right to the water’s edge and has purchased a mobi chair. The new stable surface and chair allows people with mobility difficulties to much more easily access the water. Big Albro is the first HRM beach to have both a mobi chair and a path to get to the water. Chocolate Lake will likely be similarly equipped soon. A good initiative to make sure that everyone has the chance to enjoy our City of Lakes.

One of Portlant Street’s five lonely trees. Photo: Google

Trees for Portland Street: The six blocks of Portland Street in Downtown Dartmouth are going to get a lot greener in the next few weeks. HRM is adding more street trees, which on Portland, is no small thing. HRM’s gardeners do a great job of adding lots of colourful life to the planters each year, but the street has very few trees. Portland has almost no tree canopy to speak off. There are only five small trees on Portland’s entire Downtown stretch. Unfortunately, we can’t add street trees to the existing planters without giving up on the annuals. This is because tree roots eventually fill up the constrained space in the planters. It’s trees and grass, or annuals. We can’t do both.

The ideal solution would be to dig up sections of Portland to install silva cells so that there would be the soil volume to grow full-sized trees outside of the existing planters, but that’s a very expensive proposition. Silva cells for a single tree can run $20,000 – $40,000. It’s the kind of thing that only makes sense to do when a street is being dug up for major work, and that’s not in the cards for Portland in the next few years. So what to do? Give up on annuals to add trees or give up on adding trees to Portland anytime soon?

I’m pleased to share that a third option that I have been pursuing with staff is going to be rolling out shortly: trees in portable planters. HRM is going to put out large portable planters similar to the ones on Argyle Street and then plant small tree species, such as lilacs, in them. We’re looking at about a dozen trees coming to Portland, which should take the edge off the concrete jungle. The planters have arrived and HRM has consulted with the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission on locations. Delivery should begin shortly.

Extended Curb Pilot Ochterloney

Ochterloney Curb Pilot: Changes are coming to the extended curb pilot at the intersection of Ochterloney and Wentworth. The jersey barriers, although effective in extending the refuge area for pedestrians, and narrowing the road, aren’t the prettiest things to look at. HRM is going to remove the barriers shortly and replace them with bollards and paint, which, besides being more aesthetically pleasing, should also allow for better sight lines.

A few people have asked me what the end-game of this pilot program is? Just when can we do something permanent to make Ochterloney safer? The condition of Ochterloney is deteriorating and the street is likely going to be up for a major project in the next 5 years. The first priority is to complete work on Alderney, including the extension of Dundas Street and phase 2 of the Sawmill River project (2020 and 2021). HRM doesn’t want to dig up Ochterloney at the same time that the other major route through Downtown Dartmouth is under construction. There are reasonable limits to how much construction we can undertake in one place! So the earliest we can see some permanent changes to make Ochterloney’s intersections at King, Wentworth, and Victoria better is 2023. Pilot projects are what’s possible in the here and now.

The second reoccurring ask is why not just install stop signs at these three intersections? The engineers of the world see stop signs as a way to assign the right-of-way. They’re not technically for traffic calming. So the only places that all-way stop signs are approved for use are in places where streets of the same hierarchy with about equal traffic volumes intersect. Experience has shown that when volumes at all-way stop signs are grossly unequal, it tends to create conditions for rolling stops. What this means for Ochterloney is that the Traffic Authority won’t approve stop signs for King, Wentworth, and Victoria, because they’re not like Ochterloney. Ochterloney carries more traffic, is a higher priority street, is an emergency route, and has transit. It’s not a case of equals intersecting. The thought is we can approve sight lines for vehicles trying to cross Ochterloney, slow speeds, and make it safer for pedestrians through design changes.

Waste Diversion: HRM has recently expanded its recycling program. Effective July 2, HRM now accepts metal pots and pans in blue bags. Acceptable pans include steel, aluminium, metal alloy, multi-surface frying pans, baking sheets, and wire racks.

The other recent change concerns textile recycling. HRM doesn’t recycle cloth directly, but many non-profits in our community do collect textiles for reuse. This includes clothes that can be resold at places like the Salvation Army Thrift Store. What isn’t as well known though is that charities will take clothes that aren’t suitable for resale. Ripped, tattered, or stained clothing still has reuse value! The only cloth that is truly garbage is cloth that is soaked with oil or other hazardous materials.

HRM has partnered with local charities to try and encourage diversion by making contact links available on the municipal website and in HRM’s popular waste app. Many charities will come pick-up clothing from you directly. For more details, including contact information for local charities that take textiles, visit HRM’s website here.

Solar for Community Buildings Pilot Program: The Province is accepting applications for their Solar for Community Buildings Pilot Program. The Program is run by the Department of Energy and Mines and enables eligible organizations and community groups to generate up to 75 kw of solar energy off their roof to sell to Nova Scotia Power on a 20 year contract. The price paid by NSP is set in the bids, meaning it can be more than the fixed residential price for selling power back to NSP. The deadline for applications is August 9 at 5:00 pm. This is the last year of the program so it’s now or never to take advantage of this opportunity. For more information, visit the Province’s website here.

Public Consultation:

Lyle Street / Shore Road Local Street Bikeway:
July 23, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
August 8, 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Corner of Mott Street and Shore Road

HRM is moving forward with the Macdonald Bridge Connector project. The goal of the Connector project is to make getting to and from the Macdonald Bridge by bike easier and safer. This will mean bike infrastructure on Wyse Road, and potentially a new ramp to the Bridge bike lane from Lyle and Dixon Streets.

As part of the project, HRM is considering installing a local street bikeway on Lyle Street and Shore Road so that cyclists leaving the Bridge have a safe way to get to Downtown Dartmouth and the Harbour Trail. A local street bikeway isn’t a bike lane, it’s design interventions to slow and reduce traffic volumes so that cars and bikes can share the road. Although the primary goal is to make the road safe for cyclists, the associated traffic calming measures also benefit pedestrians and neighbourhood residents. HRM’s recently completed local street bikeway on Vernon Street in Halifax is a good local example of how a bikeway can function.

Vernon Street. Photo: Taryn Grant

HRM’s active transportation staff who are working on the Macdonald Bridge Connector project and the Lyle and Shore Road local street bikeways will be at the corner of Mott Street and Shore Road on July 23 and August 8. Drop by to learn about the project and share your views. Dates are rain and shine (staff will have a tent in the event of showers)

Gray Arena Survey
Open till July 31
The Gray Arena in Dartmouth North is surplus and HRM will be disposing of the property. After attempts to find a community group interested in taking over the facility came up empty, Council asked HRM’s Planning Department to carry out a community visioning exercise for the property. HRM’s planning team has been at a number of events over the last few months to collect feedback. There is a survey open to the public on the HRM website until July 31. You can take the survey 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, June 28 and 25: A hefty update with a lot of indepth detail about some Centre Plan amendments in District 5, the fate of three developments in Downtown Dartmouth, commercial tax reform, and commuter rail. Read about it here.


Evergreen Fairy Tea
Saturday, July 27, 1:00 – 3:00 pm (reoccuring every Saturday until August 31)
Dartmouth Heritage Museum (Evergreen House),
26 Newcastle Street

This year Evergreen will be hosting ‘Fairy Teas’ every Saturday from 1pm – 3pm. Light refreshments will be served along with both black tea and herbal teas. There will be craft activities for children and those young at heart! Teas will be hosted downstairs in Evergreen, weather permitted doors will be open and guests are welcome to explore the back garden!

Tickets are $2 per adult, children are free! Please call at 902-464-2300 or email at info@dartmouthmuseum.ca to reserve a table.

Shubenacadie Marine Railway Guided Tours
Saturday, July 27, noon – 4:00 pm
Shubenacadie Canal Commission
Canal Greenway, Dartmouth

Explore the historic Shubenacadie Canal Marine Railway with a free guided tours. Between 1861 and 1871, the marine railway carried boats and barges overland between Dartmouth Cove and Sullivan’s Pond. From the Pond, traffic could sail through the rest of the canal all the way to the Bay of Fundy. The building is a modern replica of the flume house that powered the railway, featuring full-scale re-creations of the gears and machinery that made the system run. Tours are free of charge, but donations to the Shubenacadie Canal Commission are welcome.

Accompanying the tours will be live local music: Up with Gaelic! Traditional Cape Breton/Scottish Gaelic fiddling tradition

Sullivan’s Pond Concert Series
Sunday, July 28, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission
Sullivan’s Pond Bandshell

The Downtown Dartmouth Sullivan’s Pond Concert Series sponsored by Weldon McInnis is underway! Outdoor shows start at 2 pm every Sunday at the Sullivan’s Pond Bandshell. All concerts are free and suitable for all ages. Bring your own lawn chair and dress for the weather.

If weather conditions call for rain or high winds, check the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission’s Facebook page for cancellation info on the morning of each concert. Remaining concerts this summer:

July 28 David Goyetche Red Lions
August 4 Dartmouth Community Band
August 5 Natal Day at Sullivan’s Pond
August 11 Morgan Davis
August 18 Quiet Hill
August 25 Farm Team
September 1 Ced, Marty & Dave
September 8 Thomas Stajcer

Family Pride Dance Party
Saturday, July 27, 2:00 – 3:30
Alderney Gate Library

Saturday afternoon fever at the library. Children and parents are invited to the Family Pride Dance Party at Alderney. This free Pride event will include a DJ, lights, family-friendly drag performers, giveaways and more.

1st Annual Motorcycle Show and Shine
Tuesday, July 30, 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Safety Services Nova Scotia,
201 Brownlow Avenue, Dartmouth

In an effort to engage the community in motorcycle awareness this summer, Safety Services Nova Scotia is planning their first-ever Annual Motorcycle Show & Shine. The event will feature a BBQ, prizes, networking, and more. Rain date August 13, 2019.

Lake Banook: Just Paddle It Race Series
Monday, August 5, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Canoe Kayak
The Just Paddle It series is a multi-discipline race that invites people of various abilities, ages, and paddle craft to take part in a mass start. For more information on this fun race series visit Canoe Kayak’s site here.

Natal Day
August 3-5
Various locations

Natal Day is just around the corner which means its time for the annual parade, the Natal Day Road Race, Mayor and Council Garden Party, and, of course, fireworks. For a full listing of Natal Day events checkout the Natal Day website here.

Dartmouth Makers Meetup: Applying for a Juried Show
Thursday, August 8, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
MacPhee Centre
50 Queen Street, Dartmouth

Have you ever wanted to know how to get into the best juried shows? Join the Dartmouth Makers on Thursday, August 8th for their first #dartmouthmakermeetup. In addition to meeting other makers, there will be a panel discussion sharing tips and insights to help you prepare a successful application. $5 from each ticket will be donated to Margaret’s House. Space is limited, so book ahead. For more information or to purchase tickets search @dartmouthmakers on social media.

The Great Benjamins Circus
Thursday, August 8, 7:00 pm
August 9 and 10th 4:30 – 7:00 pm

Alderney Landing
The circus is coming to Alderney. The show under the 1.5 hour show will take place under Great Benjamins’ blue and yellow big top, August 8, 9 and 10th. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Urban Cycling 101
Saturday, August 10, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Halifax Cycling Coalition and Making Tracks
Alderney Gate Library

The Cycling Coalition has partnered with Making Tracks to continue offering its popular Urban Cycling course. The program includes cycling safety, rule of the road, on-bike riding skills, take-home resources, and how to prepare. It tends with a group ride. Space is limited so please register in advance here.

Dartmouth Lakes Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, August 22, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Mic Mac AAC
192 Prince Albert Road

MLAs Claudia Chender and Susan LeBlanc are hosting a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the health of Dartmouth Lakes. The Province has jurisdiction over lakes, but, so far, there hasn’t been a great deal of interest from the provincial government. I appreciate the attention of Dartmouth’s MLAs on this issue.

Murder at Evergreen: an Original Dartmouth Heritage Museum Victorian Murder Mystery Night
Saturday, August 24, 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Dartmouth Heritage Museum
Evergreen House, 26 Newcastle Street

The DHMS invites you to Murder at Evergreen! On August 24th, Evergreen House will become the site of a murder mystery party! Guests are encouraged to come in their best “fancy dress” for a unique Victorian Tea where they will have the opportunity to practice their best sleuthing skills. Each confirmed guest will receive a short character outline which they may play up and expand upon as much or as little as they wish. No acting is required, but it is very welcome. As well, guests who register before August 9th will receive a formal invite and Calling Card in the mail. Guests will be asked to fill out a short information sheet to ensure the best character match. Prices for the evening are $30/individual, $25/members, and $100/Group of Four. Come down to Evergreen or email info@dartmouthmuseum to reserve your spot!!

Switch Dartmouth New Date
Sunday, August 25, noon – 4:00 pm
Portland Street / Prince Albert Road

The biggest street party of the year got rained out in June, and, now, a new date has been found! Same route, same time, new date. Come out to Downtown Dartmouth to enjoy a wonderful afternoon of FREE fun for all ages – live music, bouncy castles, demonstrations, activities, etc. Specials and promos from downtown Dartmouth businesses plus community BBQ’s and food trucks on site. More details to come. Check Switch Dartmouth on social media.

Sing at the Findlay
Saturday, September 8, 8:00 pm
The Findlay Wall
Findlay Community Centre, 26 Elliot Street

Come see the movie Sign at the Findlay Wall beind the Findlay Community Centre. This all ages outdoor movie screening will keep summer going into September. Popcorn available at the show.


  1. Hey Sam,

    Thanks for your diligence with Northbrook Park. It is very much appreciated and won’t be forgotten.

  2. Thanks for these updates, Sam! Always really appreciate your blog posts and how transparent you are with what’s going on in District 5.

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