E-News July 2024

Northbrook Park


Northbrook Park Encampment
I have received a number of emails and phone calls over the last two weeks from folks around Northbrook Park who have noted the rapid increase in the number of people sheltering in the Park. Northbrook Park isn’t a designated site, but, unfortunately, Provincial projects, like the promised pallet communities, are running behind schedule and won’t be ready until the Fall at the earliest. HRM is once again in a situation where there is no supportive housing space available, and people have no other choice, but to live outside.

Asking someone to move if you can’t tell them where they can go instead (basically asking them to cease to exist) is morally problematic, makes no practical sense, and is also illegal. There have been court cases in BC and Ontario that have established a clear Charter protected right to shelter in public spaces when there are no suitable alternatives available. The result is that HRM can’t close the Northbrook encampment unless the municipality can offer folks living there an alternative option.

With no new housing options coming online until the fall, HRM is left with the no win situation this summer of either (1) allow homeless encampments to continue growing with little to no control around where they’re located, or (2) designate specific municipally owned spaces where sheltering will be permitted. Over the last several years, I have consistently supported trying to make the situation better for everyone by designating sites and providing some support to residents. It’s an absolutely imperfect approach and not a solution to the problem, but sometimes a band aid is better than nothing at all. So what does the need for more encampment sites potentially look like in District 5?

In District 5, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a worse location for an encampment than Northbrook Park. The Park is small and narrow with neighbours packed in on all sides. It’s a neighbourhood shortcut to Wyse Road, it doesn’t have great visibility or access to nearby streets, and it’s home to a playground. It’s a terrible spot for an encampment. One of the worst potential locations in all of Dartmouth. In past staff analysis, it has never even made it to the maybe pile.

Northbrook Park

Unfortunately, shutting down Northbrook will mean that other public spaces will have to become encampments instead. HRM can’t close Northbrook unless we can answer the basic question of where do people go instead, which means we need to open other locations. That isn’t going to be an easy decision for Council. This issue will come before us at our next meeting on July 9 when staff will bring forward a list of potential alternative sites. I haven’t seen the report yet and so I don’t know what will be recommended. With Green Road packed to the brim and Northbrook spiralling out of control as an unsanctioned encampment, I expect we will need additional sites in Dartmouth. Other locations won’t be popular either, but Northbrook has to close. It is objectively in every way one of the worst possible locations and can’t continue like this.

Penhorn Beach

Beach Testing
There are changes coming to how HRM manages water testing at public beaches that will likely see more E. Coli advisories than ever before. The change is because Health Canada’s guidance for safe E. Coli concentrations in freshwater has become more demanding. The previous recommended maximum measured E. Coli concentration in a single water sample was 400 CFU/100 mL. Under the new Health Canada guidelines, that concentration has been reduced to a maximum of 235 CFU/100 mL. Similarly, average samples previously allowed for 200 CFU/100 mL compared to the revised 126 CFU/100 mL. Health Canada’s guidance has become significantly stricter!

To get a sense of what the new Health Canada guidelines could mean for HRM’s beaches, staff applied the revised guidance to all of 2023’s test results. In 2023, HRM beaches were closed for a total of 225 days out of a total of 1,178. Using the new stricter standards would have added approximately 50 additional closure days for a total of 275 days, a 22% increase just from applying the revised testing criteria.

As a result of Health Canada’s changing guidance, HRM has been looking at the whole way that it runs the water testing program. Starting this year, HRM will no longer formally close beaches when E. Coli concentrations exceed Health Canada guidelines. Instead, HRM will share results via public service announcements and via life guards and signage at HRM’s supervised beaches. People will then be able to decide if they want to accept the risk and swim anyway. Conveying information without formally closing a beach is generally how beaches are managed across Canada including in BC, Manitoba, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Pride Parade in 2022

July is Pride month here in HRM and there are a number of events over the month, including the Pride Parade on July 20 and an outdoor concert in Ferry Terminal Park on July 26. While Pride is a celebration it also continues to be a movement and rallying call to build a more equitable and free society.

As a bi man, I understand on a deeply personal level some of the challenges that many 2SLGBTQ+ folks face. I’m fortunate to have the most supportive family anyone could ever ask for, but I still came of age in 1980s/1990s Nova Scotia, a world awash in homophobia. I know what it’s like to fear that friends would turn their back on me if I ever revealed my true self. I know what it’s like to be threatened by a complete stranger for no other reason than who I was with. I know what it’s like to try and wish away a core part of your being. I know how hard it can be to come to terms with who you truly are.

I know all of that, but I also have had the luxury of being able to blend into the background. Blending in though hasn’t changed this core part of my being. I have a very public job and, in writing this, I’m forever giving up blending in. I’m sharing this now because I’m finally at a point in life where I’m ready to. I’m not the first openly 2SLGBTQ+ Councillor in HRM’s history. Krista Snow and Peter Lund walked this route first and I’m privileged to join them. Even with all the progress that has been made, there is still a point to make about being in politics as an openly 2SLGBTQ+ person.

What really gives me hope is my kid’s generation. For most of them, intolerance based on attraction and love is utterly foreign. The younger generation is a reminder to me of the progress that’s been made, progress that we need to defend, celebrate, and continue to advance. Happy Pride.

Shoreline Restoration at Oathill Lake. Photo: Oathill Lake Society

Oathill Lake Work
I wanted to give a shoutout to the Oathill Lake Society. The Society has been busy this season doing restoration work in Oathill Lake Park around the swimming steps by the Oathill Lake Crescent entrance. The ground around the steps had become eroded and degraded. The Society has planted some native species such as ferns and piled up some rocks alongside the steps to stabilize the slope and, hopefully, catch gravel that might otherwise wash into the lake during heavy rain. Oathill Lake is lucky to have an engaged group of community stewards to carry out projects like this and you can help!

If you have some free time, the Society will be hosting several more invasive species pulls over the summer season. The next one will involve going after multiflora rose and will take place on Saturday July 6 at 9:30 am. Meet at the north end of the Lake by the dam. Many hands make for light work. For more information, check out Oathill Lake’s facebook page here.

Naturalization in District 5
Over the last month, HRM has completed two naturalization projects in District 5, one in North Woodside and the other at Birch Cove. The Naturalization Program came out of a budget suggestion a few years ago to reduce the amount of mowing that is carried out without much thought on HRM land. After piloting several projects, Council approved creating a full-scale program in 2022. Funds were allocated in the 2023 budget and a full-time staffer was hired late last year in Parks and Rec to lead HRM’s efforts.

Naturalization is an ecologically based approach to managing the land. The goal is to create a more natural landscape that provides space for a greater diversity of plants and animals. Naturalized landscapes are also low-maintenance and self-renewing, provide learning opportunities for environmental stewardship, beautification, erosion control, improved stormwater management, and reduce maintenance costs. Naturalization doesn’t mean that eventually there will be no lawn space in HRM parks, it means HRM will be more thoughtful and deliberate on where the municipality mows and what other species of plants we introduce (or often reintroduce) to our parks.

At Birch Cove, HRM partnered with Helping Nature Heal and the Ecology Action Centre to naturalize a portion of the shoreline with native shrub species. Canada geese love wide open lawn spaces near waterways in urban areas (we’re basically providing an all you can eat buffet with no predators). Unfortunately, their droppings end up contaminating waterways, leading to swimming advisories due to high E.coli levels. Making Birch Cove less hospitable to the geese as the newly planted shrubs fill in is one of the goals of the HRM project. Native plants will also stabilize the shoreline and support a diversity of pollinator and bird species. The naturalized area occupies only a small portion of the shoreline and does not prevent water access by swimmers and paddlers. Birch Cove will also still have grass spaces to sprawl out on and a sandy beach, just hopefully with a lot less goose poop in future!

Naturalization project at Birch Cove
Birch Cove Beach

In North Woodside, the naturalization project has seen the introduction of trees and shrubs around the large lawn space at the end of Stephen Street. I know this large lawn does have a function for viewing fireworks and events in the Harbour, such as Sail GP and past tall ships festivals. Most of the time though it sees little use. Thanks to a donation from Tree Canada, HRM has been able to add a variety of native tree and shrub species. In meeting wtih staff prior to the planting, I stressed the importance of this space as a public viewing area and the planting plan was adjusted to situate the larger trees towards the sides and along the paved pathway that comes down the hill so as to preserve views out of the park space. In future, the space should provide a lot more habitat for wildlife while also providing a bit more diversity for human use too: there will be shady trees to sit under on those hot summer days!

Tree planting in Woodside Regional Park

There is nothing immediately planned for other spaces in District 5, but I did take the Naturalization Coordinator on a bit of a tour of the Pond at Linden Lea in hopes that a future project might be possible there. We’ll see what the art of the possible is on that later.

Student Transit Pass Extension
HRM and HRCE have agreed to extend the current student bus pass program until September. Students who had a bus pass over the last year will be able to continue using their pass to ride for free until September 10. The student bus pass program has been in pilot mode for a few years now, and has grown from Dartmouth High to include Woodlawn High and all the junior high schools that feed into both high schools. HRM and the Province are still in discussions around the future of the program and I’m hoping there will be news to share on its future soon. Providing students with access to transit provides kids with greater independence and experience riding the bus in their formulative years in hopes that they will grow up to become lifelong transit users. It’s a good program and I’m hoping that it will eventually be extended to all schools in HRM.

Weekly Green Cart Collection
With summer weather upon us, HRM’s annual switch from biweekly to weekly green bin pickup has begun. From now until the end of September, green bin collection will happen every week. Collection can take place as early as 7:00 am so best to put your bin on the curb the night before. For more information on HRM’s solid waste program, including what goes where, visit HRM’s website here.

HRM Planning Permits Online
Since the Centre Plan came into force in HRM, most development in District 5 has become as-of-right. The old process of a public meeting followed by a vote at Council was time-consuming for everyone and full of uncertainty. It wasn’t productive for developers or neighbours, but one thing it did do very well was let everyone know what was happening in their neighbourhood. It’s not the same depth of information, but did you know that development permits are shared online on an interactive map? You can find basic details about each permit by clicking on it on the map. For example, one I get asked about a lot, the Europa Tower at 1 Horizon Court off Micmac Boulevard is in the online database showing a permit for a 27 storey, 216 unit building as per the original development agreement has been applied for and is currently under review by HRM.

You can find HRM’s publicly released permit data online here.

Micmac Boulevard Sidewalk Correction
I have to make a correction to June’s E-news regarding the upcoming sidewalk project on Micmac Boulevard. As it turns out, some of HRM’s staff read my e-news too and brought this error to my attention. The scope of work for that project is to provide a paved bus stop and a pathway to that bus stop from Horizon Court, not the whole length of this block as I stated in June. Transit doesn’t have the mandate to provide a sidewalk from the bus stop along the rest of the block to Mic Mac Mall. What’s coming will be a good improvement for transit riders who use this stop, but it won’t help if your destination is to go by foot to the Mall or Micmac Terminal. It’s an improvement but something that it seems I prematurely crossed off my list and that I will have to continue pushing to fix.

Public Consultation

Alderney Drive Plan
Wednesday, July 17
Monday, July 22
Zatzman Sportsplex

HRM will be holding two open houses to look at a redesign of Alderney Drive. I don’t have a lot of info on this one yet so stay tuned. The starting place for the project though was the need to connect the Wyse Road bike lanes to the Harbour Trail down the hill at Alderney Landing. For now, save the date.

Council Update

To keep you informed about what is going on at Council, I’m writing a regular blog after Council meetings. 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 18
The latest on the Dartmouth Cove infill fight and a potential redesign of the Windsor Street Exchange. Read about it here.


Dartmouth Concert Series
Ferry Terminal Park

The shows continue throughout the summer at Ferry Terminal Park. The main stage will be busy with a variety of concerts including:

  • July 5, Julianna Riolino
  • July 6, Mother Goose
  • July 12, Vibrancy Stage
  • July 13, Jazz Festival
  • July 19, Afro-Caribbean Showcase
  • July 21, Dartmouth Fantasy Day (family-friendly event with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!)
  • July 26, Halifax Pride
  • July 28, Caribbean Diaspora Multicultural Festival
  • August 3, Crescendo
  • August 4, Natal Day
  • August 10, Dartmouth Undersea Adventure with Sponge Bob Squarepants
  • August 10, Hopscotch

For more information, check out the festival series page on HRM’s website here.

Tunes by the Tracks
Fridays, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Alderney Gate Library

Still with free public music, the Library in partnership with the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, will be hosting concerts in the lobby of Alderney Gate every Friday at lunch over the summer. Upcoming concerts include

  • July 5, Brad Reid
    Rising fiddling star Brad Reid. Reid will be accompanied by Ron Hynes on Bass and Ian Bent on piano. A blend of old and new music
  • July 12, Zamani Folade
    Zamani is a storyteller who writes, produces and performs her own unique brand of alternate R&B, Neo Soul, Urban Jazz and Pop.
  • July 19: The Women Next Door
    A queer affinity a cappella choir. The group believes that song and harmony can help deliver a powerful message for social change
  • July 26: Hegatsbe
    Hegatsbe is a Nigerian singer well known for his catchy hooks and a soothing voice which will get you in the zone and make you move your body. Inspired by artists from around the world like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Drake, and many more.
  • August 9: Ivan Giles
    Ivan Giles is a singer/songwriter/musician who grew up on the south coast of Newfoundland. Inheriting an Irish/folk sound at this early age and with his love of country and rock music following behind, he has put all four together to provide a variety of songs that are sure to entertain.

Park Avenue Oven
Saturdays and Thursdays
Dartmouth Common
The Park Avenue Community Oven, after a long COVID hiatus, will be fired up again this year for Open Oven days. The Oven was open on Saturday this past weekend and the newly reformed volunteer group is aiming to have the Oven open as many Saturday’s as possible throughout the summer. Starting later this month on Thursdays, likely July 18, the Oven will also be open thanks to student staff with the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission. The Oven is a really unique attraction in Downtown Dartmouth and I’m excited to see it making its return. Please note that the Oven isn’t available for bookings as the volunteer group is focussing on getting it up and running for as many open oven days as possible.

New to You Flea Market
Saturday, July 6, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
North Woodside Community Centre
230 Pleasant Street

Come join the North Woodside Community Centre for their New to You Flea Market. There will be over 50 vendors located throughout the community centre, plus the always popular pancake and sausage breakfast. Admission is $1 a person and breakfast is $6.

Kiwanis Mother Goose Festival
Saturday, July 6, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Ferry Terminal Park

The Mother Goose Festival will take place in Ferry Terminal Park this Saturday. This free family-friendly event will include bouncy castles, puppet shows from Maritime Marionettes, farm animals, a treasure hunt and more.

Sullivan’s Pond Concerts

There will be music this summer at Sullivan’s Pond too thanks to the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission. Concerts at Sullivan’s Pond include

  • Ced, Marty and Dave, 2:00 – 4:00, July 14
  • Morgan Davis, 2:00 – 4:00, July 17
  • Dartmouth Concert Band, 2:00 – 4:00, August 4

Many thanks to the Business Commission for providing the entertainment at Sullivan’s Pond.

Movie Monday: Elemental
July 15, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Alderney Gate Library

Come to the Library for a free screening of the kids movie Elemental. Kids under 8 must be accompanied by an adult.

Dartmouth North Pride Party
Tuesday, July 16, 4:00 – 7:00 pm
Dartmouth North Public Library

Come join MLA Sue LeBlanc and the folks at the Dartmouth North Public Library for a Pride Party. Stay tuned to Sue’s newsletter for more details, but the party will include a BBQ.

Movie Monday: Super Mario Brothers
Monday, July 22, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Alderney Gate Library
A plumber named Mario travels through an underground labrynth with his brother Luigi to rescue the captured princess

Movie Monday: Wish
Monday, July 29, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Alderney Gate Library

In Wish, Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy called Star.


  1. Hello. I live in the North End. We were very happy to see the cutting down of the brush area at the corner of Victoria Road and Highfield Park Drive a year or so ago. Is it going to be cut back again?

    • I’m not sure. Will ask Tony. I don’t think that’s HRM’s land, but I think it’s something Tony worked out with the property owner (NSP?)

  2. Please designate some new sites but make it a priority to deal with the overcrowding. I know it’s not your district but University Avenue is an explosion of violence every day. Please remember that in council on Tuesday. Thank you

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