E-News May 2020

A quick note about my newsletters. My intent is continue publishing shorter, but more frequent updates on COVID-19 as needed. COVID-19 has disrupted HRM’s operations, but a lot of work is continuing. That work shouldn’t be lost entirely as we deal with the virus and so I will focus these regular monthly newsletters on the non-COVID news. You can read my latest COVID focussed newsletter here (latest as of May 1) and browse past COVID updates here.


New Street Name Request:
If you’ve been following my newsletters, the Downtown Dartmouth Infrastructure Project is something you’ve likely read about a few times. The Infrastructure Project is the combination of several different projects in Downtown Dartmouth into one organized effort that will better link Dartmouth Cove to the rest of Downtown to enable redevelopment, connect the Harbour Trail to Sullivan’s Pond/Lake Banook, redesign the intersection of Prince Albert, Portland, and Alderney, finish the lower half of the Canal Greenway Park, and, of course, daylight the rest of the Sawmill River. It’ll be transformational when it’s built!

As part of the project, there will be some new street names needed in Dartmouth Cove as new streets are built and old ones are modified. There are currently, however, no Downtown Dartmouth specific names on the HRM commemorative names list. Not one. HRM needs some new Dartmouth names because we could tentatively be building the extension of Dundas Street into the Cove next year.

This is where you come in. Since HRM will be naming some new streets in Downtown Dartmouth, this is your chance to suggest a name. Someone in our Dartmouth community that should be acknowledged? A historic event? This is your chance. Dartmouth has a long tradition of citizen-driven names, including the naming of lakes Banook, Mic Mac, and Charles and, more recently, Irishtown Road. I’m hoping we’ll get some submissions for names that might otherwise get overlooked. For details about the process and how to submit a commemorative name, checkout the municipal website here.

Penhorn Lake. Photo: Penhorn Lake Area Trails Association

Penhorn Lake Trail:
I mentioned in my March newsletter that the tender is out for a new washroom at Penhorn Lake. I’m pleased to share that HRM has also issued a tender for Phase 1 of the Penhorn Greenway. The new Greenway will run from Somerset Street to the Penhorn Bus Terminal. There is a well-worn path there now, but only part of it is maintained. The new Penhorn Greenway will be paved and cleared in the winter, making it an actual all ages and abilities route.

Phase 1 of the Penhorn Greenway will be built this year and will stop just past the end of the lake. The work has been broken into phases because HRM is still discussing with Crombie how the trail will potentially connect with their lands and the Penhorn Terminal. There is enough room alongside the highway that the trail could stay on the Provincial right-of-way and not cross Crombie property, but working with Crombie would allow for a more direct route that better integrates with future redevelopment. The intent is to build Phase 2 next year in 2021.

As part of this year’s trail project, the Penhorn Lake parking lot will also be paved. That rough mess of gravel will become a proper parking lot with lines, landscaping, and accessible spaces. I know that parking lot has been a frequent source of complaint, so it’s great to have that taken care of as part of the larger project.

If all goes according to plan, this construction season will leave Penhorn Lake with a new washroom, Phase 1 of the long envisioned trail, and a proper parking lot. It’s been a long process, and I’m excited to see a new and improved Penhorn Lake!

Rendering of the new washroom

If you live near Penhorn Lake or visit the Lake regularly, please consider joining the Penhorn Lake Area Trails Association. Their vision and persistence is why there is a trail project in the first place, and the work isn’t finished yet. There is still the potential for a recreational loop around the lake to provide even more recreational opportunities. You can connect with PLATA by emailing PLATA’s secretary, Michael Vlahos mvlahos@gmail.com

Yellow Floating Heart Pilot:
Some disappointing news at Little Albro Lake as HRM’s Yellow FLoating Heart pilot project has been delayed. The plan was to place some benthic mats in a small section of Little Albro this year to see if they’re effective in dealing with the invasive Yellow Floating Heart lily that has completely taken over the lake. The process of getting provincial approval and tendering the project took longer than expected, and now COVID-19 has created new challenges. HRM is still committed to the pilot project, Council’s approval and direction hasn’t changed, it’s just going be 2021 instead of 2020. I’m disappointed with the delay, but, on the plus side, it’ll give HRM another season to see how a similar effort in Ottawa’s Brown’s Inlet turns out and to hopefully learn from Ottawa’s experience.

Sullivan’s Pond Geese:
The geese have returned to the Pond. You may remember that HRM sent the geese off to Hope for Wildlife (their winter home) a few weeks early last year after one of the geese knocked down a senior. The senior suffered significant injuries in the resulting fall. HRM asked Hope and her staff to assess and they didn’t note any aggressive behaviour over the winter months. As a result, the whole flock was returned to the Pond. Unfortunately, the alpha goose takes his job as protector very seriously, and after the Pond reopened to the public, he has been behaving aggressively again. Sullivan’s Pond needs to be a safe place for everyone and so HRM has had to send the lead goose back to Hope for Wildlife where he’ll remain. He’s more cut out to be a country goose than a city goose it seems.

HRM has changed the routine at Sullivan’s Pond somewhat. The geese are regularly fed by Parks staff and staff will now only feed them in the new fenced in area next to the band stand. This will make it easier to round them up when needed, and will hopefully reduce the possibility of future conflicts with people by taking the feeding away from the pedestrian paths. I want to emphasize that no one except Parks staff should feed the geese, no matter how much they ask! Feeding them will make them more likely to come up to people, which could lead to future conflict. Don’t feed them. They’re well fed already.

Still on the topic of our feathered mascots, you might notice the new net across the Sawmill River at Sullivan’s Pond. The net has been put in place by Parks and Rec to hopefully prevent any ducklings or goslings that might hatch at the Pond this year from getting stuck in the fish ladder. Last year the fire department had to attend to ducklings trapped in the fish ladder several times. Tying up a fire truck and crew rescuing ducklings is obviously not an ideal use of resources. The hope is that the new netting will prevent a repeat this year.

Parking Machines:
Over the next several weeks, you might notice HRM installing concrete pads throughout Downtown Dartmouth. The new concrete pads are for the parking modernization project’s new pay machines. The days of the lowly parking meters in HRM are numbered. This year they will be replaced with strategically located pay machines. The main advantages of pay machines is more flexibility in structuring parking rates, easier enforcement, and more parking spaces. With meters, parking spaces all have to be the same large size. That means there is space left over when smaller vehicles park. The experience from other cities indicates that if you let people organize themselves curbside, the space gets used more efficiently. The pads will be installed between now and July so if you see a work crew seemingly doing the bizarre thing of installing a raised concrete pad that then nothing ends up on top of, this is why. Parking pay machines will eventually be placed on top of those pads.

Hawthorne Street Design Changes:
Work that was originally tendered for back in the fall has gotten underway on Prince Albert Road between Bolton and Ochterloney. The work will involve replacing the road bed, traffic lights at Hawthorne/Prince Albert, sewer line, and associated stormwater infrastructure. The construction project is expected to take two months to complete so expect delays in the area until summer as traffic is being rerouted to Sinclair, Pleasant, and Crichton Avenue.

Since the adoption of the Integrated Mobility Plan, all of HRM’s major road projects are looked at through the lens of retrofitting old designs to make more complete streets, which brings me to the intersection of Prince Albert and Hawthorne. As part of the project, the curbs at Prince Albert and Hawthorne will be bumped out, which will reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians crossing the Hawthorne portions of the intersection. This will make the intersection safer for pedestrians since they will be in the road for less time, and will be more visible to motorists when waiting on the bumped out curbs.

There is a trade-off to be made though in extending the curbs: the left turning lanes on Hawthorne Street will be eliminated (left turn lanes on Prince Albert Road will remain). As a result, there will be some additional wait times for motorists on Hawthorne who end up behind left-turning vehicles. HRM’s traffic assessment is that there isn’t a problem with vehicles clearing this intersection during a standard light cycle, and that any additional delays will be minor, making it a trade-off that’s worth making.

2019 HRM Volunteer Awards

Volunteer Awards:
COVID-19 has disrupted HRM’s normal volunteer award ceremonies, but this year’s awards have still gone ahead. In District 5, the recipients and the submitted bios are:

  • Bonnie Moore (Conrad)
    Bonnie has shared her time and talents with her community in many ways from supporting friends and neighbours in need to volunteering with organizations such as the Dartmouth Learning Network, SPCA, Dartmouth Heritage Farm Garden, and numerous horticultural organizations.
  • Pat Moffatt
    Pat is unwavering in her support at the North Woodside Community Centre. The endless amount of time she has given to us over the last 20 years is priceless and most definitely appreciated!
  • Jennifer Waugh
    Jennifer is passionate about giving back to her community, and through her volunteer work with the MacPhee Centre she helps create a supportive and caring environment, she also serves dinner at a food bank, re-shelves books at a library, and teaches adults how to create safer spaces for young people of colour.
  • Dianne West
    Dianne West shares her talents and skills as the Coordinator of Caring Hands (formerly Circle of Care) to help others have a better life. She oversees up to 20 volunteers, ensuring they are taken care of as well as the families they support. Dianne still finds the time to volunteer with organizations such as the QEII Health Sciences Centre and Dartmouth General Hospital Foundations, Hospice Halifax, Children’s Wish Foundation, and the Dartmouth Shelter Society.

Congratulations to Bonnie, Pat, Jennifer, and Dianne. Thank you for all that you do in our community!

You can find a complete list of this year’s award recipients from all districts as well as the list for past years on HRM’s website here. Congratulations and thanks to all of them.

Poet Laureate:
HRM has a new Poet Laureate. Congratualtions Sue Goyette! The Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador and advocate for literacy, literature, and the arts, and provides readings at various HRM and civic events. Goyette has published six books of poems and a novel and has a forthcoming collection, Anthesis, due out this year. Goyette has received many awards including the CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, Governor General’s Award. Congratulations to Sue Goyette. If you’re curious about her work, here’s a reading courtesy of Canadian poetry publisher, Brick Books

This is Emergency Preparedness Week so a gentle reminder that HRM has its own alert notification system, hfxALERT. Notifications that could be sent out on hfxALERT include urgent emergency messages, such as evacuations, or more routine messages such as winter parking ban announcements. hfxALERT notifications are sent out via email, automated phone message, text, or on the mobile app. Mobile app users get geographically related notifications relevant to where they are in the municipality. You can sign up for hfxALERT on the municipal website here or download the app.

For more on Emergency Preparedness Week and tips on you can be better prepared for whatever emergencies we might face, visit HRM’s website 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, April 2
Our first virtual meeting since Covid-19 shut down normal operations at City Hall. Bus tender, illegal dumping, wildlife feeding restrictions, and the Regional Plan. Read about it here.

Council, April 14
Council’s second virtual meeting, with two district related motions from me: a Banook fish ladder, and changes to the sidewalk patio design requirements. Also, the conclusion of the Halifax Common parkade saga. Read about it here.


Given our current COVID shut down, there isn’t much in the way of events to report.

MacPhee Centre Programs
May 4 – June 26

COVID has shut down the MacPhee Centre’s regular operations so they’ve gone online. From comics, to theatre, to spoken words, there is a lot to choose from. Programs are being delivered through Zoom. For more information, visit the MacPhee site here. To register, go here.

Emergency Gluten-Free Pantry
Tuesday and Wednesdays
Stairs Memorial United Church
44 Hester Street

If you, or someone you know, has gluten-free requirements and is struggling, a number of community organizations have come together help with the Emergency Gluten-Free Pantry. Call Hannah Minzloff 902-223-9479 to sign up for a free weekly gluten-free food box. Each box includes a variety of 100% gluten free products and fresh produce. Home delivery on Tuesdays or pickup on Wednesdays at Stairs Memorial on Hester Street. Many thanks to Hannah and all the community organizations that have come together to make this possible.


  1. Good day to you Austin, considering the number of people walking on the sidewalks, and stepping out on the street when meeting another Walker, to keep appropriate distances; perhaps we should consider dropping the speed limit in HRM. We walk on a regular basis, and have found that many of the vehicles are travelling at excessive speeds, especially on the main streets, such as Victoria, Slayter, Portland, Pleasant, etc. Obviously opening up some trails will Reduce the number on the sidewalks, but speed is a real problem in HRM…And of course we have the ongoing problem of those ignoring 4 way stops and red lights.. Bonie Moore

    • Hi Bonie. I expect that HRM will, eventually, do some temporary measures to try and help with social distancing in the form of bumped out sidewalks. Those measures would likely be implemented on the busiest streets. The staff response to temporary measures have been fairly lukewarm though so I can’t say for sure what will happen.

      On the speed limit, HRM doesn’t have the authority to lower speeds below 50, except in school zones. The Province sets the minimum speed at 50 and anything less is a specific case-by-case approval. It’s very cumbersome and frustrating. Basically, the Province feels they know better than HRM, which is absurd when you stop and think about who designs, builds, maintains, and polices municipal streets. Council actually asked for the ability to post 40 and it actually came up in the legislature in debate when the government was approving the new Transportation Safety Act. One of our Dartmouth MLA’s, Claudia Chender, proposed an amendment to better delegate speed limits to municipality, but the government said no. Wish it were otherwise, but on speed limits our hands are pretty strongly tied.


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