The election campaign is over and the voters of HRM have chosen their representatives for the next four years. You can see complete results on the municipal website here. Here in District 5, I’m very grateful and humbled by the strong mandate I received to continue working on your behalf. Thank you so much. Being in politics can be challenging at times. It means a lot to know that I have the confidence of Dartmouth Centre.
As I’m sure many have heard, the new Council is much more diverse. When I was first elected in 2016, we had more guys named Steve on Council than we had women (three Steves versus two women). The 2020 election has ended the stark gender disparity. The new Council consists of eight women and eight men. It’s a big change and I’m hopeful that new voices around the room will help Council make wise decisions and look at issues in a different light. The new Council will officially be sworn in this week on Thursday October 29.
I want to acknowledge and thank the outgoing Councillors for their contribution to HRM: Steve Streatch, Bill Karstin, Lorelei Nicoll, Russell Walker, Richard Zurawski, Steve Adams, and Matt Whitman. Being in public life isn’t easy. Thank you to all for their service. Also, thank you to Mitch McIntyre for offering voters in District 5 a choice.
A couple of practical final notes. Over the last month and a half I ended up behind on emails as the pressure of running a campaign, a demanding September Council schedule, and the regular inflow of constituent requests put me behind the eight ball. I’m hoping to catch up fully this week. Thank you for your patience and understanding. With the election campaign’s conclusion, I have been modifying my website. You can find a tab for all my 2020 election posts as an archive in case anyone wants to look back on what I had to say during the campaign. Finally, my team and I have gathered up all our election signs, but there are always some that go missing along the way. If you took yours in before we came by or spot one dumped somewhere, let me know and I’ll come collect it.
I’m looking forward to being back to the regular business of Council in the next 2-3 weeks. Thank you once again Dartmouth Centre for your support.
Starting today, October 26, the Alderney Ferry is almost completely back to normal operations. That means 15 minute service on weekdays from 7:15 am until 8:15 pm, an hour of extra service on weekday evenings (10:45 for the last ferry instead of 9:45), and the return of service during mornings and evenings on the weekend. The only remaining difference between the new schedule and the pre-COVID schedule is ferry service will stop one hour earlier than it used to in the evenings. This is so that staff can manage the increased cleaning requirements brought about by COVID. I’m very glad that the ferry is basically back to normal operations.
If you missed the news in my early October newsletter, temporary curb extensions have been put in place at Ochterloney and Victoria, and Crichton Avenue and Oakdale. The goal of both projects is to reconfigure the intersections to make them safer for all users. Both intersections are ones that have challenging sightlines and wide streets. They’re locations that I have received complaints about on a fairly regular basis, particularly Ochterloney and Victoria. Extending the curb in both locations has improved visibility for motorists and pedestrians, has reduced the distance that pedestrians have to cross, and should slow traffic by reducing the lane widths.
I have had a few people ask in the past why HRM is installing temporary infrastructure rather than getting out there and redesigning the actual road. Our challenge is that HRM, like most municipalities, has decades worth of infrastructure that was built with only cars in mind. Making all our streets complete streets is going to take time. Installing temporary measures allows HRM to address problematic locations now rather than waiting, in some cases, many years for a paving project.
Halloween is fast approaching and with it has come questions about how the holiday will function in an era of COVID. Although Atlantic Canada has managed to, so far, avoid community wide COVID spread, we still have to be mindful of the danger. As a reminder, Halloween or not, gathering limits still apply! This isn’t the time to throw a party. The Province has released some reminders and tips and advice on Halloween and trick-or-treating. Check them out here.
I have had a few complaints about the interface on the new parking machines. I haven’t had a chance to try them out yet myself. I’m not sure at this point whether this is the inevitable learning curve of new technology or if HRM’s new machines are particularly cumbersome. HRM does have an instructional video available showing how the machines work that might be of help.
Board and Committee Recruitment:
HRM is seeking volunteers to serve on various municipal boards and committees and on a few external boards that HRM provides appointments to (Metro Housing, Canal Commission, etc). The following volunteer positions are open
- Accessibility Advisory: Three persons with disabilities, and one community member
- Active Transportation Advisory: One at large, one youth representative (18-30), one representative from a group that promotes walkability
- Audit and Finance Standing Committee: Two community members with accounting designations or public sector experience
- Design Advisory Committee: Two architects and two landscape architects
- Design Review Committee: One at large, one professional at large, one structural engineer, two architects, two landscape architects
- Grants Committee: Four at large
- Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee: Four at large community members
- Halifax Regional Library Board: One at large
- Heritage Advisory: Five at large
- Investment Policy Advisory: Four at large
- Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority: Two at large
- North West Planning Advisory: Four at large community members
- Point Pleasant Advisory Committee: Six at large
- Police Diversity Working Group: One African Nova Scotian youth (16-25)
- Ragged Lake Community Liaison Committee: One local resident and one at large
- Regional Watershed Advisory Board: Two at large, two water related professionals, one representative from an environmental non-government organization, one research scientist faculty member from a post-secondary institution
- Shubenacadie Canal: Two at large
- Special Events Advisory: One representative from a business tourism organization
- Taxi and Limousine Liaison Working Group: One transportation network company representative, one independent taxi broker
- Western Common Advisory: One local resident
- License Appeal Committee: Three residents at large with experience in administrative law
For more information and to apply, visit HRM’s website here. The deadline for applications is Monday, November 9.
Tax Relief Non-Profits:
It’s that time of year again for non-profits. It’s time to apply for HRM’s property tax relief program for the 2021-2022 year. Non-profits have to apply to renew their status each year and there is always someone who, for whatever reason, doesn’t get their paperwork done and ends up paying a penalty. If you’re an executive director or a board member of a non-profit that owns property, this is your cue to make sure that organization isn’t yours! Applications for new properties are due by November 30 and renewals for properties that are already in the program are due by March 31, but really why wait till March when you can get it done now. Applications are available online here.
Flower Streets Complete Street Project
The complete streets project to provide a better cycling and walking connection from the Dartmouth Common to Sullivan’s Pond has moved into its second phase of public engagement: review of detailed design options. The project has settled on Dahlia Street as the preferred location rather than Tulip. Elements being looked at include a sidewalk on Oak Street/Crichton Avenue (2), rearranging the crosswalks to Sullivan’s Pond (3), what a crossing from Dahlia to the Common would look like (4) and how the connection from Dahlia to the Sullivan’s Pond/Banook multi-use trail would work (5).
Notable elements under consideration include three possible options for providing a safe connection from the Dartmouth Common to Dahlia (one of which would block Dahlia off to left-turning traffic), possibly reversing the stop sign at Dahlia/Pine to make Pine Street traffic stop rather than Dahlia traffic, and an Oak Street sidewalk that wraps all the way around Crichton and up Dahlia to Beech. Below are the different potential configurations for crossing Victoria Road:
And the potential for a sidewalk on Oak Street and how that connects to Sullivan’s Pond and Dahlia Street:
Since in person meetings aren’t possible, HRM is conducting consultation for this project virtually. You can review the project materials online here and take the survey to provide input. The survey is open until Tuesday, October 27. HRM is hoping to proceed with the project in 2021.
Traffic Safety Act
Now – November 6
The Province is replacing our outdated Motor Vehicle Act with the new Traffic Safety Act. The Traffic Safety Act has been passed by the legislature, but it hasn’t yet been proclaimed into law. Before the Act becomes law, the Province needs to finish drafting the accompanying regulations. As part of preparing new regulations, the Province is looking for public feedback. Feedback will be collected regarding several areas over the next several months. Currently open for review until November 6 are regulations regarding vehicles including safety requirements, insurance, and registration documents. For more information check out the Province’s site here.
Given current COVID limitations on gatherings, there are a lot fewer events to report.
November (various dates and times)
HRM’s annual Volunteer Conference is a celebration of the tremendous contributions that volunteers make throughout our community. It gives residents an opportunity to participate in training, networking and learning that helps them become more effective volunteers and provides strong capacity in the municipality. Like so much else in 2020, HRM’s annual Volunteer Conference has had to adapt to limitations on in person gatherings. This year’s Conference is going online as a series of webinars. Each session will be on Zoom and will have a maximum of 100 participants. Registration opened October 13. The Conference is free to attend.
- November 5, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, Boards 101 & Effective Meetings
- November 12, 10:00 am – noon, Micro Neighbourliness – Small Actions, Big Results
- November 19, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, Supporting Diversity in Volunteerism
- November 26, 10 am – noon, Turning Ideas into Actions – Grants & Funding
For more information and to register visit HRM’s website here.
Mosaic for Mental Health
October 17 – November 1
Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing
While the usual opening night festivities weren’t possible this year, due to COVID, the Halifax Dartmouth chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual Mosaics is back at the Craig Gallery. This annual fundraiser features many different artists painting tiles for sale. You can view tiles at the Craig (gathering limits apply) or online. All sales are online this year. Check out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s site here.