In this year’s budget, HRM approved three measures to try and help local businesses, particularly those located in Downtown Halifax and Downtown Dartmouth, recover from the impacts of COVID. All three initiatives (transit, concerts, parking) have been announced or have started to rollout so I thought I would highlight them in my newsletter
Dartmouth Concert Series
After last year’s successful launch, concerts at Ferry Terminal Park will once again be part of summer in Dartmouth. The Dartmouth Summer Sunshine series is a partnership between HRM, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, the African Nova Scotia Music Association, Weldon McInnis, and the Atlantic Federation of Musicians. Entertainment will include urban, gospel, classic rock, folk, country and acoustic artists. Children and youth entertainment will include the Kiwanis Mother Goose Festival, the Halifax Busker Festival, and multicultural celebrations. All events are free. The concert series starts June 25 and runs every Saturday and Sunday until August 28. For listings check out HRM’s page here.
COVID Recovery – Free Transit
HRM is offering some free rides on transit on Friday and Saturdays this summer. From July 1 to August 27, the whole transit system will be free on Fridays. In addition to the free rides for bus and ferry on Fridays, the ferry will be also be free on Saturdays. The idea behind the free transit initiative is to make it easier for people to get out and about and, also regain some of the transit ridership that was lost during COVID. In Downtown Dartmouth, I expect the free ferry trips on Saturday, when many of the ferry trips are leisure in nature, will be particularly valuable.
COVID Recovery – Parking Fine Forgiveness
Finally, HRM is implementing a parking fine forgiveness program. The program will run from June 1 – September 31. If you received a parking ticket for overstaying your purchased time at a meter during this time and can provide a receipt from a local business showing spending of at least $35, you can apply to have your ticket forgiven. Tickets for non-time related offences such as parking in a no parking zone, blocking a crosswalk, obstructing a fire hydrant, etc aren’t eligible for forgiveness. Eligible tickets are strictly for paid time violations. Receipts must be submitted online within five days of a ticket being issued to be considered.
There has been some criticism of the parking forgiveness program as incentivizing both car travel and meter violations. It’s worth noting that during budget deliberations, Council turned down several parking incentive measures including free or reduced parking rates. We kept just this one parking initiative because it was broadly requested by the business improvement districts who saw value in the direct connection to spending at local businesses. The ticket forgiveness program is expected to be a relatively small cost to HRM (free transit is five times the expense) and given that appealing a ticket and submitting a receipt is a hassle, it seems unlikely that many people will stop paying for parking because of the program or opt to drive more. The most likely scenario where this program will be applicable is someone running unexpectedly late at an appointment or meal and getting stuck with a ticket. Rather than leave with a bad feeling about their time Downtown, they now have a way to get that ticket forgiven. I don’t mind that and I don’t think this will have any significant impact on HRM’s other goals and objectives when it comes to transportation.
Lower Portland Street Closure
A few months ago, I put a blurb in my newsletter indicating that the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and I were exploring the idea of closing the lower section of Portland Street (Prince Street to Alderney Drive) to vehicles for the summer. Since then, the Commission’s Executive Director and I have met with the business owners on that block to further discuss the idea. There are some concerns, but the reception was generally favourable. So I’m pleased to report that HRM and the Commission are planning to proceed with a pilot project this year. The Commission has applied to close lower Portland from July 28 to August 7 to coincide with Natal Day, Canoe 22, and Buskers Fest (making its way to the Dartmouth side for the first time). The Commission still has to formally apply to close the street, but I don’t anticipate any issues in the approval process since HRM has been working closely with the Commission on the idea. We’re going to see how the closure goes this year to gauge whether this might become a regular part of summer in Downtown Dartmouth.
Downtown Dartmouth Mural Project
The next big mural in Downtown Dartmouth is coming to the corner of Maple Street and Ochterloney Street on the building at the Nova Scotia Power substation. NSP’s concrete building is a unique, but imposing structure. It’s large blank walls combined with its very prominent location makes it a great mural site. To make that happens, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and Nova Scotia Power have come together on a joint project.
To get things started, the Commission has issued a request for proposals from artists interested in doing something amazing with all that blank space. Submissions must be received by the Commission by June 30. The project budget is $40,000, and is being funded by the DDBC, NSP and $10,000 from District 5’s capital fund. I’m very pleased to be able to help assist in beautifying this important corner. For more information on the process, check out the DDBC’s page here.
The Port of Halifax has released a 50-year plan. The plan looks at port operations with an eye out to 2070. While it’s hard to predict what the world will look like that far out, the Plan sets benchmarks for various expansion projects. Of particular note for Dartmouth, the plan identifies the potential for a second cruise ship terminal on the Dartmouth waterfront. A cruise terminal on the Dartmouth side would open up destinations in Dartmouth and beyond to visitors, but it will only come about through more detailed planning with HRM and others for the Dartmouth waterfront. Planning for the waterfront is something that is being discussed and that I hope to be able to share more about in the future.
The other piece that’s pertinent to Dartmouth given the application in Dartmouth Cove, is the Port’s plan to continue to provide disposal sites for pyritic slate. The Port’s Fairview/Africville site will reach capacity soon, but the Port does have additional locations in the South End where infill would align with future expansion plans. You can read the Port plan online here.
Crichton/Ochterloney Tactical Installation
I’m pleased to share that HRM has approved another tactical road project, this one at the intersection of Crichton Avenue and Ochterloney Street. The goal of the tactical program is to make improvements to our streets using temporary measures, such as bollards, attachable curbs, and planters. Using temporary measures allows HRM to stretch our limited dollars and make improvements in places where a paving project isn’t in the immediate future. Tactical projects also allow HRM to try out new configurations before permanent changes are made.
What’s planned for Crichton Avenue and Ochterloney Street is a narrowing of the intersection. The opening of Crichton Avenue is very, very wide and that’s true even after it was narrowed using a curb extension at some point in the past before curb extensions were in much use. It’s a spot that has generated some complaints from pedestrians. When complete, the intersection will still have three lanes (right and left turns and one lane northbound), but the distance that pedestrians have to cross will be greatly reduced and the sweeping angles that encourage higher vehicle speeds will be tightened up. The result should be a much safer intersection for everyone. HRM expects to install the temporary infrastructure in the next few weeks.
Anyone who has passed between Lake Banook and Lake Micmac knows that the pigeons who roost under the Circ Bridge make a lot of waste. Most of the pigeon droppings go directly into the lakes, impacting water quality. One of the Banook Pollution Control Study’s recommendations was to get rid of this roosting location as it was a notable source of Ecoli.
A few months ago, HRM installed netting on the bridge, but many of the pigeons perched on the one remaining ledge and a few found gaps to get behind the netting. Projects in which you’re up against another intelligent being are always challenging!
HRM has reviewed the situation and the contractor will be returning to address the remaining issues. So if you see workers back on the bridge, it’s follow up work to address the pigeon problem.
Penhorn Lake Trail
The Penhorn Lake Area Trails Association (PLATA) has reached an exciting milestone. With funding from HRM, the Province, and the District 5 capital fund, they have been able to launch construction of a recreational trail around Penhorn Lake. The new trail will run from Somerset Street to the new paved trail that currently ends just past the beach. The new trail is under construction and will be finished this year! PLATA has been working towards this for over a decade. Many thanks to all the current and past membership for all those volunteer hours and dogged determination to advance this project to construction. I’m confident that when complete, the loop will swiftly become a treasured local space.
Housing Trust Acquisition
You might recall from my Council updates that I made a motion requesting that HRM provide a grant to the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia to support the Trust’s acquisition of a set of properties for affordable housing. That grant was approved by Council, but the exact location of the Trust’s acquisition has been deliberately kept vague. This was because the Trust was still working their way through the purchase and no one wanted to risk potentially interfering with that process. I’m pleased to report that the Trust has now completed their due diligence and the closing date for the acquisition is June 30. Notices went out to tenants yesterday, which means I can now share that their acquisition of five buildings, includes two in Downtown Dartmouth: 21 Albert Street and 240 Portland Street.
The two Dartmouth apartments have long been staples in the community and have been fairly affordable for years. As a result, rumours that they might be for sale was something I was really concerned about. There aren’t many places in Downtown Dartmouth where an apartment can still cost less than $1,000. The buildings are old, but well managed and there would be an obvious business case for someone to buy them, fix them up, and then significantly increase the rent. I mentioned these properties as something I was concerned about to the Trust in conversation. As it turned out, the Trust was looking for properties to buy since they had determined that building new was too expensive. Sometimes magic happens just from making a connection and that quiet word led to the current purchase. The Trust is accessing federal programs and the terms of the grant from HRM means that 80% of the units will be affordable. The Trust will hold a meeting with residents in the near future.
Woodside – Shearwater Active Transportation Project
HRM has started gathering public feedback on options to connect the Harbour Trail to Shearwater Flyer. Connecting these two trails will allow people to walk, roll, or bike all the way from the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal to Lawrencetown Beach and beyond without having to travel on the road. It’s a regionally significant project and a key part of the Trans Canada Trail.
The project will also likely involve safety improvements to Pleasant Street, something that is really important. There have been a number of deaths on the wide section of Pleasant Street from Woodside down to Eastern Passage. It’s a road that needs to change.
HRM is currently gathering feedback on a couple of different options. The first in person meeting took place last night, but if you missed it, there is a second one taking place on Monday night at the South Woodside Community Centre (5 Everette Street) at 7:00 pm. HRM is also gathering feedback via a survey on the project’s Shape Your City site here. On the site you can find details on the potential options. The survey will be open until June 30.
Open Office Hours
9:00 – 11:00 Fridays
Fridays are typically a day that I spend catching up on emails, phone calls, and other constituency business. Starting next week, I’m going to try something new though. I will do some of that constituency work in the mornings from 9:00 – 11:00 at a local coffee shop. I have found that there are a lot of people that will bring something up if they bump into me, but will never get around to writing or calling with their concern or question. My hope with open office hours is to make myself a bit more accessible for these casual chats.
So, if you have anything you want to discuss with me, feel free to drop by my table for 10-15 minutes. I will rotate locations through the various local coffee shops in District 5 and will post where I will be on social media in advance (if you’re not on social media you can read my twitter feed on my website without needing an account). Will start this initiative at Marco Polo at King’s Wharf on June 24.
No new Council Updates to share in this e-newsletter. I was away for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference and a small vacation to start off June and I’m a bit behind right now. I have three Council meetings to write about and hope to have that all caught up next week. Watch my social media feeds, or website for that or wait until July’s e-newsletter when I will have a link available.
No new awards of any District 5 related tenders since my last newsletter
- Traffic calming Hawthorne and Elliot Streets, closing June 28
Phase 2 of traffic calming on Hawthorne Street including curb extensions at Hawthorne and Erskine and speed humps on both Hawthorne and Elliot
- Thermoplastic lane markings, closing June 29
Durable lane markings, including bus only markers for around Bridge Terminal
- Shubie Park Pump Track Phase 2, closing July 19
Addition of a junior pump track adjacent to the main pump track at Shubie Park. Tender is for design and build
- Production Dartmouth Summer Sunshine Concert Series, closing June 29
Sunday, June 19, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Lock4@Starr, 162 Ochterloney Street
Not all building lobbies are the same, which is especially true at the Lock4@Starr building. The condo board recently installed a display to commemorate the Starr Manufacturing Plant that was once located just a short distance away on Prince Albert Road. The display was created by David Foster Carter and includes interpretative panels and some Starr artifacts. Tomorrow, the condo board is opening the lobby to anyone that would like to take a look. To view the display, please email Roger Langen at email@example.com to book a time (no walk-ins permitted). Parking on site is very limited so exhibit visitors are asked to use the available street parking nearby on Prince Albert Road and Ochterloney Street. Many thanks to Roger for championing this project.
Dartmouth Urban Forestry Tour
Sunday, June 19, 1:00 pm
Dartmouth Common (main gates off Alderney Drive)
Come join Peter Duinker (Dal professor and Halifax Tree Project), HRM’s forestry staff, and myself on a walk through Downtown Dartmouth’s urban forest. The aim of the walk is to give citizens a chance to learn more about the trees in the city and to discuss their views on urban forest management. The tour is expected to be about two hours. For more information, check out the Tree Project’s page here.
Please note that as several of you pointed out, I had this incorrectly dated in my May newsletter as June 13. The walk is this Sunday June 19. Apologies for the error.
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre AGM
Monday, June 20, 1:00 pm
45 Ochterloney Street
Come hear about the great work and accomplishments of the Senior Service Centre at their AGM. Refreshments and sweets will be served.
Saturday June 25
St. George’s Tennis Club, 6 St. George’s Lane
Tennis Nova Scotia is organizing a series of try it events this summer to introduce tennis to new potential players. One of the try it events will take place at St. George’s here in Dartmouth. Racquets will be provided but you’ll need to come in soft-soled shoes (no running shoes).
Kids (8-11 yrs old) : 10:00 – 11:00 am
Juniors (12-15 yrs old): 11:00 am -Noon
Ages (16+): Noon – 1:00 pm
Registration in advance is required. Contact St. George’s by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society AGM
Tuesday, June 28, 6:30 pm
Evergreen House, 26 Newcastle Street
Join the Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society at Evergreen House for the Society’s annual general meeting.
Canada Day returns this year with a new format fthat includes new cultural, musical, and family-oriented events to enjoy. The program was developed in close collaboration with Indigenous communities to honour the traditions of the Mi’kmaw Nation and celebrate pan-Indigenous communities that call HRM home. This year’s Canada Day includes:
- Mawio’mi on the Commons
- Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Parade
- Dartmouth Summer Sunshine concert
- Kana’ta at Grand Parade
- Fireworks displays
- Free admission to Citadel Hill and Canadian Museum of Immigration
- Free ferry service
Visit www.hrmcanadaday.ca for more information.