E-News June, 2020


Silver’s Hill Park Upgrades
With the World Sprint Canoe Championship coming to Lake Banook in 2022, HRM is preparing to implement a number of public space upgrades around the lake. In particular, design work is underway for a refresh of Silver’s Hill Park. Silver’s Hill has a beautiful view, but it’s not well-used other than as a shortcut between Prince Albert Road and Sinclair Street. The concrete bleachers on Silver’s Hill are also old and deteriorating. A consulting firm, WSP, is working on a redesign based on the 2008 Sullivan’s Pond and Lake Banook Master Plan. A concept plan of Silver’s Hill has been finished and includes pathway upgrades through the park, replacement of the concrete bleachers, the introduction of some terraced seating, and a picnic area. The new bleachers would have an accessible top level, and HRM is looking at the potential of incorporating public art into their design. The Silver’s Hill plan is still only conceptual at this stage so if anyone has any feedback, let me know and I will pass it along to staff and the consultants.

Lake Banook Boardwalk
Still with the Lake Banook area, if you’ve been by the boardwalk over the last year or so, you may have noticed the wooden guardrail along the multi-use trail by the gazebo is really starting to lean precariously. HRM is very much aware of the problem. I have been discussing the issue with staff and HRM’s investigation has revealed that the problem is much more complicated than just a leaning guardrail. The lean is a symptom of a larger issue with how that section of boardwalk was built. The boardwalk was not tied back into the land very well and it has actually moved and settled with time. The movement is what is causing the guardrail to topple over: it’s not that the guardrail’s posts are failing, the land and boardwalk underneath is sinking. HRM is looking at options, but whatever the solution, it will require replacing that section of boardwalk and multi-use trail. The rough plan is to tackle it next year so that it’s fixed in time for the world’s in 2022.

Monarch Butterfly. Photo: Kenneth Harrelson, Wikipedia

Dartmouth Monarch Project
If you attended District 5’s Participatory Budget night back in 2019, you might recall meeting Vanessa Burchill. Vanessa is an 11 year old Downtown Dartmouth resident who is passionate about Monarch Butterflies. Monarchs, besides being really pretty summer visitors, complete an amazing migration each year. They move north from their winter home in Mexcio across the US and into southern parts of Canada including Nova Scotia. Four generations live and die along the way, and yet, the Monarchs still know where to go for their portion of this generational journey. Nature really is remarkable!

Monarch Butterflies owe their survival to Milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant where they lay their eggs and that feeds their larvae. This makes Monarchs really susceptible to habitat loss: no Milkweed, no Monarchs. This is where Vanessa comes in. Vanessa’s ask is for all of us to plant Milkweed. She founded the Maritime Pollinator Society and after a successful pitch at Participatory Budgeting, secured funding from District 5 to buy the equipment needed to grow Milkweed on a large scale. Vanessa is producing 100s of Milkweed seedlings to give away. If you have a spot in your back garden, the Pollinator Society has free Milkweed. It’s a pretty plant that also provides habitat for a vulnerable species.

Swamp Milkweed with a Monarch. Photo: Joyful Butterfly

To get in touch with the Maritime Pollinator Society to get your own Milkweed and to support an inspiring young Dartmouthian, reach out on facebook or email PollinatorSociety@gmail.com

Albro Lake Drainage
Over the next few weeks and months, you might notice survey work taking place from Northbrook Park down Jamieson Street to the Harbour and along Wyse Road. The work is part of an upcoming Halifax Water project to separate storm and lake water from the sewage system. Right now, water from both Big Albro Lake and Little Albro Lake travels underground from the lakes, pops up briefly in Northbrook Park, and then enters the sewer system by the Sobeys. This lake water mixes with sewage and then all of it ends up at the Dartmouth Wastewater Treatment Plan before entering the harbour.

It’s unnecessary to treat the Albro’s perfectly good lake water, and doing so reduces our sewer system’s capacity and makes it more prone to overflows during heavy rain. The plan is to separate the lake water from the sewage and then discharge the lake water directly to the harbour. Design work will be completed this year, which will then be followed by two phases of construction. Construction is tentatively planned for 2021 and 2022 and will be extensive because separating the clean freshwater from the sewer will mean installing another pipe from Northbrook to the Harbour. A lot of digging to come.

Remembering the Avenue
HRM has recently installed a new interpretative sign in Birch Cove Park to commemorate the Avenue, a nearly forgotten piece of Dartmouth history. The Avenue was the informal name for the Black Nova Scotian community that was located at the end of Crichton Avenue. The community dates back to the 1800s (an exact date is hard to pinpoint). In fact, Crichton Avenue wasn’t even Crichton Avenue until the turn of the century. It was known before that as Coloured Meeting House Road because of the church that was built near the intersection of what is now Glen Manor and Crichton Avenue in 1844.

The Avenue steadily grew and at its peak was home to over 100 people. Like many Black communities in Nova Scotia, the Avenue suffered from institutional and environmental racism: paving stopped at the last white family’s house on Crichton Avenue, water and sewer wasn’t available, and noxious uses including the dump, and stone crusher were located in the community. Almost all of the Avenue’s families were eventually displaced by the construction of the Circumferential Highway and encroaching development. The original graveyard was even dug up and remains were relocated to Christ Church’s cemetery in the 1970s.

Today, a few traces of the community are still evident on Crichton Avenue from the street’s peculiar design after the intersection with Mount Pleasant, and in the form of a few original houses that are much older than the post-1970s housing that surrounds them. More broadly, the Victoria Road United Baptist Church is still a community hub for the families that lived there, keeping the Avenue’s spirit in Dartmouth very much alive.

The Avenue has been identified as a potential “Cultural Landscape” in the Centre Plan, which will provide future opportunities to do a more fulsome interpretation plan for the area. For now, the sign at Birch Cove, where baptisms were held, serves as a reminder of this almost forgotten bit of Dartmouth history.

Portland Street repairs underway. Photo: Bev Audet

Portland Street Brickwork Repairs
I’m very pleased to see continued attention to fixing the long neglected brickwork on Portland Street. The problem is that after the Portland streetscape was built back in 2008, there was never a plan for ongoing maintenance and, over time, the bricks have settled and deteriorated. It’s been well past time for some basic maintenance. Staff from HRM’s Transportation and Public Works section started work in the fall and have tackled two sections of brickwork so far this year. It’s hot, finicky, time-consuming work. A big thank you to the staff who have been working on it. I’m very pleased and thankful for their efforts, especially this year given how challenging COVID has made things. I will continue to gently ask staff about Portland to ensure that it does all eventually get fixed.

Demetreous Lane Paving
Demetreous Lane is getting repaved this year and like all HRM capital projects, staff have taken a look to see if the street’s design can be improved rather than just replacing what exists now. I’m pleased to share that the new design includes removing the barren section of asphalt on the north side of the Lane. The reclaimed land will be turned into green space, allowing more street trees to be added to Demetreous. There will be no loss of on-street parking as the Lane already has sufficient width for parking without the additional area on the north side that is currently paved asphalt.

Anyone know the backstory on this gravestone? Photo: Adrienne MacNutt

St. Paul’s Cemetery Mystery
A few months back I was contacted by a resident asking if I could help solve the mystery behind the very unique gravestone in the picture above. What’s the inscription mean? The grave is located in St. Paul’s Cemetery off of Geary Street on the Dartmouth Common. St. Paul’s was taken over by the City of Dartmouth and it then passed to HRM at amalgamation. Surprisingly, HRM doesn’t have a plot plan for St. Paul’s. The plot plan was either lost at amalgamation or, since the City of Dartmouth took over the cemetery themselves, it never existed in the first place. HRM has no idea who is buried there, which has only deepened the mystery behind this unusual headstone. HRM staff checked with the three local companies that produce markers and, unfortunately, they never produced this one or too much time has passed for anyone to remember it. So we’re all baffled. If anyone out there knows what the story behind this is, please get in touch. Curious minds would like to know!

Sullivan’s Pond Gosling. Photo: Michelle McCann

Sullivan’s Pond Gosling
It’s been a challenging year, but life still serves up little surprises. One bit of heart warming news is that one of the Sullivan’s Pond geese hatched a gosling. It’s been several years since there were any goslings at the Pond. It’s nice to see. Goslings grow up quickly so if you want to see the little ball of fluff pop by in over the summer. If all goes well, by fall it’ll be the goose equivalent of a teenager.

Oathill Lake Society Buoys
The Oathill Lake Society is asking anyone who is boating or swimming in Oathill Lake to please be careful of the Society’s buoys. The Society has an ongoing water monitoring and sampling program and at the end of some of the buoys are sensors. The Society has been actively engaged in a number of projects to improve the environment in and around Oathill Lake including a stormwater settling pond, invasive species removal, and the Aquago which helps with circulation. Their monitoring program has been continuous for several years now and the data is important for gauging the success of their efforts. Oathill Lake is open for everyone to enjoy, but please leave the buoys alone.

Public Consultation

Centre Plan
COVID-19 has disrupted the public engagement that was supposed to be happening right now as part of Centre Plan Package B. Package B is the second part of the Centre Plan that will replace all of the existing residential zoning in Dartmouth inside the Circumferential, and Peninsula Halifax, update the Downtown Halifax Plan, and create new zoning for industrial (North Woodside Industrial Park) and institutional areas. Check out this video produced by HRM and Planifax for a good overview of where we are now with Package B.

Public engagement in its traditional form isn’t possible, but the Centre Plan team isn’t sitting idle. They’ve been refining the draft and have released a series of surveys on the Centre Plan website. You can take the surveys and provide feedback here.

Proposed development on Portland Street between across from Canadian Recycling

Public Hearing, Portland Street Development
June 30, 6:00 pm
With COVID-19 restrictions around larger gatherings likely to remain in place for quite some time, HRM has amended its planning process to allow for virtual public hearings. The very first one will be conducted by phone for the proposed development on Portland Street across from Canadian Recycling. 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, here.

Since this is a virtual public hearing, please note that if you wish to speak to Council by teleconference, you will need to sign up in advance. There will be no opportunity to speak unless you’ve signed up, no matter how outrageous or praiseworthy someone else’s words at the public hearing might turn out to be. Only those on the list will get to speak. To be added to the list, you must contact the Clerk’s Office by 4:30 pm on June 29. You can reach the Clerk by:

  • email clerks@halifax.ca
  • phone 902-490-4210
  • fax 902-490-4208

Please include the name of the meeting body (Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council), the planning case number (21880) or civic address of the project, your name, your community of residence, email address, and telephone number. If you have questions about the content of the application, please contact the planner, Jamy-Ellen Klenavic at 902-476-8361 or klenavj@halifax.ca.

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, June 23
A very important meeting where Council approved HRM’s ambitious climate change plan, HalifACT. Council also moved the possibility of a bin program for collecting recycling and garbage forward and identified a potential active transportation corridor on Crichton Avenue. Read about it here.

Council, May 12, 26 and June 9
A large update to cover all the updates I missed during the hectic couple of weeks that was May and early June. HRM’s revised 2020 budget, the fate of the police armoured vehicle, exciting new transit plans, and boulevard gardening. Read about it here.


Given our current COVID shutdown, there are a lot fewer events to report.

Alderney Market
Saturday, June 27, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Alderney Landing

With COVID restrictions relaxing, the Alderney Farmers Market is back. The market will be open for regular hours tomorrow with a limited number of vendors. Traffic through the market space will be one-way and a limited number of people will be allowed in at one time. Even though the physical market space is reopening, Alderney’s successful online market will continue, so there will still be options for anyone who doesn’t want to shop in person. For more information, visit Alderney’s site here.

Craig Gallery
Tuesday – Friday, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sundays, 11 am – 3:00 pm

Alderney Landing
Still with Alderney, the Craig Gallery has reopened. While opening night shows aren’t possible right now, the Gallery will once again be available for in person visits. Check out Taiya Barss’s Now and Then show on now until July 5.

Virtual Canada Day
Wednesday, July 1, 7:00 pm

COVID-19 has made the usual holiday festivities impossible, but the show is still going on. HRM was selected by Canadian Heritage and CBC to be part of the national virtual Canada Day celebrations. The national celebration will include Halifax Heroes (people who have made managing through COVID just a little easier). In addition to the national show, there will be a local show with music performances by Joel Plaskett, Reeny Smith, Jah’Mila, Mo Kenney, Owen O Sound Lee, Ben Caplan, and Classified. The local show will be live on HRM’s youtube page, Civic Event’s Facebook page, and Eastlink.

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