The Moving Forward Together Plan is coming to Dartmouth this year with a number of route changes. The Moving Forward plan is a complete reorganization of Transit’s service. The key principles of the plan are:
- Focus resources on high ridership service
- Build a simplified transfer based system
- Improve service quality and reliability
- Give transit priority in the street network
Moving Forward Together has been implemented in phases and where changes have been made, HRM has seen significant increases in ridership. Moving Forward is delivering better service to more people. The proof has been in the pudding. At times though, Moving Forward has been politically challenging as focusing resources on improving frequency, increasing ridership, and streamlining routes, has meant that transit has been reduced for some people in order to improve it for many, many others. Opposition to cutting the Beaver Bank bus, reducing service in Purcell’s Cove, and routing service on Waverley Road through Craigburn are examples of the politically difficult tradeoffs involved. I believe Moving Forward has been worth it though as transit is serving more people more efficiently. Now it’s Dartmouth’s turn, which involves many improvements, and, of course, a few sacrifices.
In District 5, here are the key changes:
- New corridor route 6 will replace the 60 and 63, enhancing service along Pleasant Street to Woodside Ferry Terminal
- New corridor route 5 will replace existing bus routes on Portland Street, providing enhanced service on the busy Portland corridor
- New 53 Highfield replaces the old 53 Notting Park. The new 53 will run in both directions on Wyse instead of inbound on Victoria. It will also continue to Alderney Ferry Terminal rather than stopping at the Bridge and will no longer cross the Bridge during rush hour.
- New route 54 and 55 will go to Alderney Ferry Terminal and Bridge Bus Terminal
- Route 62 Wildwood will become the 62 Grahams Grove. The new 62 Grahams Grove will terminate at Gaston Road rather than crossing the Circumferential Highway (the Gaston Road portion was previously part of the 66 Penhorn). Service to Wildwood will instead be via the new 63 Mount Edward
- Route 66 Penhorn is no more and portions of the old route have been split between the 62 Grahams Grove for Gaston Road, and the 67 Baker for service to Mic Mac Mall.
Transit has prepared some helpful graphical guides about what’s changing that I have included below. You can find more information on Transit’s website here.
62 Grahams Grove and Ellenvale Junior High
Of all the changes to transit in District 5, the one I have heard the most concern about is the 62 Wildwood. The existing 62 is a long route that passes through a number of traffic chokepoints. If there is a delay in distant Cole Harbour or on the other end in Downtown Dartmouth, that service impact ripples through the whole line. Breaking the 62 into distinct routes makes the service more reliable, but it also adds a transfer at Penhorn Terminal for riders who currently use the 62 to travel on both sides of the Circumferential Highway. Transit’s review found that most riders transfer at Penhorn, making this change one that will improve service with minimal impact.
So who is negatively impacted by the changes to the 62? Riders that currently don’t transfer at Penhorn and use the bus to travel directly between destinations on opposite sides of the Circumferential, including kids who live in the Penhorn Lake area and use the 62 to get to Ellenvale Junior High.
I get the trepidation about having kids navigate the additional step of transferring at Penhorn Terminal. I have spent a fair bit of time discussing this concern with transit to get a better understanding of how this particular trip will operate in practice. In the morning, it will actually work fairly well. After winding its way around Penhorn Lake and Manor Park, the 62 will arrive at Penhorn Terminal at 7:58. Kids will then transfer to either the departing 58 at 8:07 or the 63 at 8:17. Both would get them to Ellenvale well in advance of the 8:35 bell, with the 58 being the better route since it goes right past Ellenvale.
The afternoon trip, on the other hand, is a bit more challenging because transit hasn’t ramped up to rush hour service when school is dismissed at 2:50. It would be tight, but likely doable, for kids to get to Mount Edward Road to catch the 63 around 2:55. Overall, the 58, which passes right in front of the school around 3:15, is likely the better bet. The 58 arrives at Penhorn at 3:22, but the next 62 back to the Penhorn Lake area departs at 3:44, meaning there is a 20 minute wait at Penhorn Terminal. The 62 is only into 30 minute service after the 3:44 run, so the previous 62 is at 2:44, before school is dismissed. 3:44 is the first available bus from Penhorn Terminal back into the neighbourhood.
I have been chatting with transit to see if it’s possible to change anything here. Unfortunately, transit scheduling is all interconnected and moving timing for one spot affects the ability to make connections elsewhere. Everything in the schedule is interconnected and it’s impossible for transit to be all things to everyone. I have also been asking if the 62 could start 30 minute service at 3:15 rather than 3:45, since that would potentially allow the 63 to serve as the connection, cutting out a fair bit of wait time, but transit doesn’t have the resources to do that. The changes are going ahead as is.
It’s been over a month now since HRM shut down three encampment sites in Halifax. Council received a great deal of feedback on the municipality’s actions. I released a statement of my own that week that you can read here and I’m still working through individual replies. HRM is caught in a very difficult place on housing. We don’t control many of the things that need to change, but we’re also stuck dealing with the results of inadequate provincial programs.
Encampments aren’t a solution to our housing woes. A shed or tent is very far from ideal. They have no electricity, running water, a toilet, kitchen, they’re not built to any building code, and there is the real risk of fire. They’re better than nothing at all, but they’re also not a replacement for safe indoor space with the social services to support the complex needs that many street involved people have.
Forcibly removing people who don’t have other options, however, doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t address the actual problem, which is why HRM has a policy to not do that. What has become painfully clear is that the options that HRM thought were in place in August were incomplete and limited. While some folks were offered and accepted space, that wasn’t the case for everyone. HRM relied on information that just wasn’t accurate. That was a mistake.
Since August, HRM has been working with the Province and service providers to try and create new short-term options so that encampments won’t be needed. The municipality has dedicated $500,000 and put Erica Fleck, HRM’s Chief of Emergency Management, in charge of coordinating the municipality’s efforts. Fleck’s experience in coordinating the response to large scale disasters and emergencies should be a good fit for the current situation where HRM needs to work cooperatively with a lot of other organizations.
So far, HRM has setup a temporary shelter at the Gray Arena in Dartmouth North. Out of the Cold is now providing supporting services at the Gray. Today HRM shared that the municipality has purchased 24 work trailers (the sort you find at remote job sites) to provide immediate emergency housing for people who are living rough. Specific locations where the trailers will be located haven’t been finalized yet, but they will be situated in Halifax and Dartmouth and will provide space for up to 72 people. HRM will be looking to the Province to share in the cost of the trailers and, importantly, provide supporting services. HRM can buy the trailers, but we don’t have the people or expertise to operate them. We need help from the Province and non-profits to provide the needed services.
HRM is also pursuing a number of opportunities for short-term spaces that we can quickly renovate. Since August there has been a lot of work going on and I’m cautiously optimistic that some of the short-term options that HRM is pursuing will come together.
Grahams Grove Building
Yesterday, Council approved a $2,299,165 tender to Avondale Construction to construct two new public buildings at Grahams Grove. The new buildings will replace the assorted collection of structures that exist now including the old cement block washroom, the Dragon Boat Club trailer, and the Kiwanis Ice Cream trailer. The new building will have a drinking fountain, several gender neutral washrooms, space for the Dragon Boat Club, and space for the Kiwanis Club (office space and ice cream). The Kiwanis Club is making a significant contribution ($300,000) to the project and has been a driving force behind the effort to revitalize Grahams Grove. Many thanks to the Club for their commitment to Dartmouth and their leadership.
With the tender awarded, staff are now okay with me sharing some of the renderings of what is to come. The architectural firm that designed the buildings is Dartmouth’s own RHAD Architects on Queen Street. They’ve done an awesome job creating something unique.
Lakeview Point Road/Hume Street
The Prince Albert Road project has sparked some interest from residents on Lakeview Point Road and Hume Street about exploring how their neighbourhood streets function. Lakeview Point Road and Hume Street are more laneways than streets. They’re narrow and lack sidewalks and curbs and Lakeview Point Road can be challenging to come in and out of.
The ask that I have received from a number of residents is to extend Hume Street into the parking lot at Grahams Grove to allow residents to exit their neighbourhood at the lights by Superstore. This would allow Lakeview Point Road and Hume Street to become a one-way loop. From a traffic point of view, the idea has merit as it would be far better for vehicles to exit at the traffic lights, especially when making left turns, than at Lakeview Point Road.
The parking lot at Grahams Grove, however, has other uses that have to be considered too. The parking lot is quite busy in the summer months with Dragon Boat paddlers, trail users, the Kiwanis Club, and general park users. With new park buildings on the way, Grahams Grove is likely to become even busier in the years ahead. I have been receiving emails from park users expressing concern about the potential negative impacts that any extension of Hume Street could have on the people who use Grahams Grove. Those concerns also have merit. If we simply extend Hume Street, we would lose a lot of parking at Grahams Grove and add through traffic to the parking lot. As a result, I don’t think it’s feasible to just join the end of Hume Street onto the Grahams Grove parking lot next to the Kiwanis ice cream trailer.
The only way that connecting Hume Street to Grahams Grove might work for all parties, as far as I can see, would be if HRM bought #10 or maybe #12 Hume Street. If a sale of either property proved possible, HRM could then construct a direct road connection from Hume Street to the lights without wrapping through the Grahams Grove parking lot. Acquiring property, demolishing an existing home, and then constructing a road extension would be an expensive venture that would almost certainly cost six figures to complete. It would have to be considered alongside the various other demands for HRM’s limited capital dollars.
At this stage, I have agreed to ask for a staff report to properly look at the idea to see what might be feasible here. I will make a request at a future Council meeting.
Yellow Floating Heart Pilot
HRM’s Yellow Floating Heart pilot project in Little Albro Lake is wrapping up. Yellow Floating Heart is an invasive species from Asia that has completely taken over Little Albro Lake. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of good options for controlling Yellow Floating Heart. What HRM has tried in the pilot project is covering a section of the Lake in benthic mats to see if we can smoother the plant. It’s basically the same idea as using landscape fabric on land. With the pilot project at an end, the contractor will be on site this week to remove the mats.
A number of residents have asked me what’s next? The pilot project was carried out in partnership with the Centre for Water Resource Studies at Dalhousie. The next step will be for Dalhousie to submit a report to HRM. That will happen sometime in 2022. What happens after that will very much depend on what the report’s conclusions are. If mats work, can we scale the project up to cover the whole lake? What are the other environmental impacts of doing that?
One of the key questions continues to be what role the Province is willing to play in addressing the Yellow Floating Heart problem? The Yellow Floating Heart pilot stretches HRM’s mandate as invasive species in waterways is very much the Department of Environment’s responsibility. In the past, however, the Province has been completely unwilling to get involved in actually addressing the issue. HRM basically carried out the pilot because the Province wouldn’t. If the Dalhousie report recommends a larger multi-year effort in Little Albro Lake, it would be hard for the municipality to justify taking that on alone.
I’m cautiously optimistic that the Province’s stance on Little Albro Lake might change. The new minister of the environment, Tim Halman, is a Dartmouth guy who understands the importance of our lakes. I’m hopeful that the change in provincial leadership might now present an opportunity to engage the Province on this problem. We’ll see what the report’s conclusions are and, hopefully, what role the Province might be willing to play next year.
Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Tomorrow, Thursday, September 30, is a new national holiday. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day provides an opportunity to recognize, and commemorate the legacy of residential schools. The centuries of mistreatment that our Indigenous peoples have endured is a grim stain on our country’s history and a problem that ripples through time to the present day.
In addition to September 30 being the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Friday October 1 is Treaty Day in Nova Scotia. The Treaties of Peace and Friendship shape Nova Scotia and has made our Province what it is today. We’re all Treaty People. Check out this video from the Province on the importance of our treaties.
Given the significant dates this week, there are a number of events happening:
- Wednesday, September 29, City Hall will be lit orange
- Thursday, September 30, Flag raising at Grand Parade at 5:30 pm, followed by outdoor music featuring Indigenous artists at the Grand Parade stage
- Virtual events hosted by The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Check out the schedule here
- September 30 – October 2, Weekend of Reconciliation on the Waterfront. Events organized by the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre. Check it out here.
Cancer Survivors Garden Bulb Plant
Saturday, October 9, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission is looking for your help. The Commission has been working with the volunteers who created the Cancer Survivors Garden on a fall daffodil plant. Their efforts have been successful and they have 13,000 bulbs to put in the ground along Alderney Drive! If you have some time to spare between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm on Saturday October 9th to beautify Downtown Dartmouth come lend a hand. Many hands make for light work. For more info, check out the event’s facebook page here.
Household Special Waste Depot (Mic Mac Mall)
Saturday, October 9, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Have some old batteries, empty propane cylinders, or paint kicking around the house that you want to get rid of but don’t want to drive to Bayers Lake? Good news, HRM’s Mobile Special Waste Depot is returning to Mic Mac Mall. On Saturday October 9, bring your hazardous waste to the mall between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm for free disposal. For a complete list of hazardous materials that you can drop off or for other mobile depot locations, check out the HRM website here.
2022 Volunteer Award Nominations
Do you know an outstanding community volunteer? Feel that it would be worth recognizing them for their good work? Good news, HRM’s is accepting nominations for the municipality’s annual volunteer awards. The deadline for nominations is December 15. For more information, to check out past winners, and to nominate someone awesome, visit HRM’s website here.
Active Transportation Grants
Community associations in HRM play a significant role in operating and maintaining HRM’s trails as well as promoting and educating the public about walking and cycling. HRM offers several grant programs to community groups to help with these efforts. HRM is current accepting applications for projects starting in November 2021 and ending in March 2022. Check out the HRM webpage here for information. The deadline for applications is Friday, October 15.
Heating Rebate Program
Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services and the Salvation Army are working together to provide rebates to low income Nova Scotians struggling with heating or electrical costs resulting from COVID. The rebates could total up to $1,000. If you’re struggling or know someone who is, check out the programs below:
- Home Energy Assistance Top-Up (HEAT). Up to $400 for emergency home heating or power bills. Check out the program page here.
- Nova Scotia Covid Relief Fund (NSCR). Up to a $400 rebate to help households impacted by the COVID with their home heating or power bills. Check out the program page here.
- Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP). Up to a $200 rebate for home heating costs. Check out the program page here.
Penhorn Redevelopment Public Information Meeting
October 20 and 21, 6:00 pm
This is a bit of a placeholder as this meeting isn’t firmly booked just yet. HRM is looking to hold a public information meeting on the proposed redevelopment of Crombie’s vacant lands at Penhorn. The Penhorn Lands have an already established community vision that was worked out in the early 2010s. The Centre Plan enabled that vision and now Crombie is seeking a specific development agreement for the site. I had hoped that we would be able to hold this meeting in person, but the health situation is somewhat uncertain with rising COVID cases. Given the lag time and considerable effort HRM has to go through to provide written notification for formal meetings, the plan is to proceed virtually. Please check out the project page here over the next few weeks to confirm the actual meeting date and time.
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 Update August
Our two August meetings (17th and 31st) plus Harbour East on September 2. Approval for a development proposal on Rosedale Drive, backyard chickens, splashpad tender, and street art. Read about it here.
Feedback on the new tenders section of my newsletter was overall quite positive so I’m going to make reporting on District 5 related tenders a regular part of my e-newsletter. I’m playing with the format a bit this month by breaking the section into awarded and issued. Most issued tenders end up awarded in the end, but not always.
A bunch of exciting stuff in District 5 was awarded in August!
- Alderney Gate Renovation Phase 2, $1,278,546 (Bird Construction)
Renovations of the lobby level at Alderney Gate. Extending the good work done to make the Pedway a gathering space down to the lobby, creating a new public bathroom, and opening up the library space.
- Birch Cove Park, $128,517 (Kynock Resources Ltd)
Some minor work at Birch Cove. Replacing park signage and paving the pathway through to Lakeview Terrace.
- Grahams Grove Buildings, $2,299,165 (Avondale Construction)
- Bird Netting Circumferential Bridge, $161,967 (Pro Tech Building Safety Systems)
Netting to keep the pigeons from roosting under the Circ Bridge. Eliminating this nesting location was one of the recommendations in the Banook Pollution Control Study.
- Dartmouth North Community Centre, $2,293,250 (Blunden Construction)
Renovation of the Dartmouth North Community Centre. Combined with the library reno underway, the building will be pretty much new.
- Dartmouth Lawn Bowls Green, $127,943 (Atlantica Contractors)
A new green for the Lawn Bowling club!
- Flower Streets Complete Streets Project, $2,289,891 (Ocean Contractors)
New sidewalk on Oak/Crichton/Dahlia, new sidewalk on Victoria from Dahlia to Bicentennial, new crosswalk to the Common from Dahlia, traffic calming on Dahlia and Maple Streets, multi-use pathway at Sullivan’s Pond, and new paving and sidewalk repairs on Dahlia.
- Silver’s Hill Park, $1,194,695 (Harbour Construction)
New viewing stand at Silver’s Hill plus pathway improvements
- Photo Enforcement Study, $100,000 (Stewart Solutions)
Prep work for when the Province enables photo radar/enforcement in the upcoming Transportation Safety Act.
- Dartmouth Ferry Terminal Recladding Phase 2, $900,400 (PCL Contractors)
Continued exterior repairs at the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal
- Crack Sealing, $268,500 (Maecon)
Routine minor pavement repairs on various streets including Boland Road, Penhorn Drive, Sarnia Avenue, Thistle Street, Victoria Road, Wentworth Street, Chinook Court, Regency Drive and Crichton Park Road.
A few tenders issued over the last few weeks relevant to District 5
- Alderney Landing Main Stage Canopy Replacement, Closed September 16
Replacement of the canopy over the main stage at Alderney Landing
- Vincent Coleman Ferry Refit, Closing October 7
Routine maintenance work on the Vincent Coleman Ferry
- Northbrook Park Pathway and Lighting, Closed September 3
Planned upgrades to Northbrook Park including new pathways, bridges, and lighting
- Zatzman Sportsplex Acoustic Tile Replacement, Closed September 9
- Traffic Calming Phase 4, Closed September 9
Installation of speed humps in various locations, including Celtic Drive and Glenwood Avenue.
- Snow Removal, Zatzman Sportsplex and Bridge Terminal, Closing October 12
- Snow Removal, Alderney Gate, Closing Ocobter 12
Snow contract for HRM’s property at Alderney, including the parking lots along Alderney Drive near Geary Street.
Saturday, October 2, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
45 Ochterloney Street
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre
The Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre’s market returns on Saturday October 2. The community market will reoccur on the first Saturdya of the month. Free admission.
Sunday, October 3, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
26 Thomas Raddall Drive, Halifax
Curious about electric cars? Well there is an opportunity to test drive a bunch of different models this Sunday. The Clean Foundation’s Electric Avenue is Atlantic Canada’s largest electric vehicle event. They’ll be eight vehicles available for test drives. The event is popular, but there are still some slots available for various vehicles. To book a test drive, visit the Next Ride website here
Open Mic Night at Evergreen House
Wednesday, October 8, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
26 Newcastle Street, Dartmouth
Dartmouth Heritage Museum
The Dartmouth Heritage Museum Society will be hosting an open mic night at Evergreen House on October 8. This by donation event will feature light snacks, coffee, and tea. Due to limited seating, please RSVP to the museum by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you intend to perform, please fill out the form