Update #13 – Participatory Budget information meeting, community grants, St Patrick’s Day, more…

Is it spring yet? I hope you are all keeping warm and dry as we all wait for some sustained sun and warmth!

A reminder – tomorrow, 6pm at Spencer House is the information meeting for groups looking to apply for capital funding. Find out how to submit for consideration, and more about eligibility for this program. Applicants must be a not for profit community group or organization – or be partnered with one, and meet the HRM policies and guidelines.

In this edition I also have included a breakdown on what HRM has been doing about potholes. Over 5,000 potholes were reported by the end of where normally between 5,000-5,500 potholes are typically reported in the run of a whole year! This follows several years with higher than normal summer paving budgets, so sometimes you just get bad weather.

You should have received my Spring/Winter newsletter sometime in the last few days. This issue focuses on seniors and there is also some information about the Metro Transit redesign, Downtown I’m In, and the Mayor’s Healthy Communities round table report. Please let me know if you did not get a newsletter!

Finally – I continue to get complaints about sidewalk snow removal. As the snow melts and the damage is revealed many residents get more and more frustrated. While a few residents have quite liked the service, the overwhelming majority want to go back to shoveling your own walks.  I will be moving that Council end the service sometime in April when the report comes back for discussion.  I will also be moving to increase the senior snow removal program budget, a program HRM runs for seniors below the low income cut off to help them age in place in their own homes.

PARTICIPATORY BUDGET :

Second Year for District 7 Participatory Budgeting 
Your input is invited on how to spend District 7’s 2014-2015 capital budget of $94,000. The process, which is called Participatory Budgeting, was initiated in Halifax Regional Municipality last year by our community.

Two public sessions were held in summer of 2014 – the first was an open exchange of ideas on how to spend the money and a vote was held at the second. The selected projects included funds for a new search and rescue vehicle for Halifax Regional Search and Rescue Team, bicycle repair stands on Dalhousie University campus and a scaffolding installation on Argyle Street during the building of Trade Centre.

District 7 – Councillor Waye Mason Participatory Budgeting Sessions:

  • Brainstorm Session, Spencer House Seniors’ Centre, Wednesday, March 12 from 6-8
  • Project Submission Deadline (via email or mail) March 26, more info at www.halifaxdistrict7.ca
  • Community Meeting and Vote, Exhibit Hall, Medjuck Building, April 16 6-9pm

UPCOMING MEETINGS, EVENTS, AND INFO:

What HRM does to deal with potholes
Crews are working on repairing potholes every day and night shift, as the weather permits and HRM has and will continue to use all options at its disposal to fix the most serious potholes as quickly as possible.

Results to date:

  • Between 800-1,000 potholes have been repaired each weekend for the past two weekends, with crews working around the clock to achieve these results
  • 3,100 potholes have been identified and repaired since January 1, 2014
  • Approximately 1,200 potholes are currently outstanding, of which only a small number (less than 300) are outside our standards for repair

Standards for pothole repair:

  • 7 working days for potholes deeper than 8 cms on main roads and arterials
  • 14 working days for potholes on streets that feed main roads
  • 30 working days for potholes on local streets
  • Note: These service standards allow staff to concentrate on the worst potholes and to prioritize the main routes where there are faster traveling vehicles and more motorists affected by the serious potholes.

Exceptional circumstances this winter:

  • Potholes cannot be repaired in wet conditions, so if there is a storm or weather conditions that leave the roads wet, service standards allow up to three days for things to dry before repairs are done
  • This winter, the increased regularity and severity of storms (with freeze/thaw/rain/freeze ) has not only contributed to more potholes forming earlier in the season, it also makes it incredibly difficult to perform repair operations
  • This year more than 5,000 potholes were reported by the end of January (April – January), with the worst months of February and March still to come
  • By comparison, between 5,000-5,500 potholes are typically reported in the run of a year (April – March)

How does HRM find out about potholes

  • Calls to 311 from residents – this is the best way to let HRM know!
  • Councillors directly contacting Municipal Operations staff
  • Regular street patrols by HRM’s Maintenance Planning Supervisors. In fact, there are six supervisors dedicated to completing road patrols looking for safety and structural issues on the HRM right-of-way, including potholes. Those same supervisors are dispatched to verify reports of potholes to 311 and prioritize them according to the service standards

7th Annual Halifax St. Patrick’s Day Parade – March 15

There is a new route for the St Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday March 15 at 11 am – for more information on the event go to: http://www.halifaxstpatricksdayparade.com/

Bike Week 2014: Grant Applications – Deadline March 16

The HRM Bike Week committee made up of staff, individuals and groups with an interest in promoting cycling, are offering Bike Week event grants. The application deadline for the grants is midnight, March 16. This grant program exists to encourage and support groups in hosting Bike Week events (June 6-15) within their own communities, and to ensure events align with HRM Bike Week goals and objectives. Grants are available in amounts up to $150 each, and the funding may be used for food, equipment, promotion, prizes, and speaker honorariums. A limited number of ‘special’ grants of up to $2,000 each will be considered this year. These special grants will only be awarded to events that can produce high attendance numbers, present unique opportunities in HRM, or capture this year’s theme, which is youth. To register an event and/or to apply for a grant, visit www.halifax.ca/bikeweek.

HRM is calling on organizations and community groups to register their events for Bike Week 2014, taking place June 6 – 15. The registration deadline to ensure the event is included in printed promotional material is April 7.

Earth Hour – March 29

Earth Hour is a grassroots initiative that began 8 years ago as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia and has since expanded to more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Earth Hour encourages individuals, businesses and communities to turn off non-essential lights for one hour as a visual symbolic act showing their commitment to the planet and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This year Earth Hour is Saturday March 29 from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. HRM has participated in Earth Hour since 2009 by turning off non-essential lights in municipal buildings. Halifax Regional Council has adopted a target to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2008 levels by 2020. Find out more here Check out Efficiency Nova Scotia for more ways to save through their free programs: www.efficiencyns.ca

HRM Community Grants – Deadline March 31

The HRM Community Grants Program is a centralized program that provides annual cash grants to registered non-profit organizations and charities located throughout HRM. There are two types of grants (a) a project grant of up to $5,000 and (b) a capital grant of up to $25,000. Presently, the program provides assistance to specific types of projects in the following categories: Environment, Recreation and Leisure, Affordable and Supportive Housing, Emergency Assistance, Neighbourhood Safety, Community History, Community Diversity and Arts and Crafts. The HRM Community Grants Guidebook contains detailed eligibility criteria for the program and for each of the funding sectors. The guide is updated annually so please check the current version of the guide posted on the website or contact staff for further information. Please click herefor the webpage.

Crosswalk Safety Committee Report

The HRM Crosswalk Safety Committee report is coming to Regional Council in the next few weeks. Click here for a copy of their report Regional Council recently approved the installation of zebra crosswalks.

Community Gardens on HRM Property

If you are interested in starting a community garden on HRM property please visit the following site for further information and staff contact:http://www.halifax.ca/rec/Gardens.html

Heritage Gas Service

I receive requests from residents who are inquiring about natural gas particularly prior to street paving projects. Residents who are interested in natural gas should visit the Heritage Gas website and sign up as being interested in receiving the service. Heritage Gas is considering the installation of gas on streets as in-fill projects without meeting the economic test so it is important for residents or groups of residents to indicate interest to HG in order for these projects to be considered. For further information please click herehttp://www.heritagegas.com/

Former St Pat’s High School Update

HRM staff is in the final stages of assessing the property of the former school (at the corner of Quinpool and Windsor) to define HRM needs/interests in the site. Once this assessment is completed the property will enter into a disposal of surplus property process as outlined in Administrative Order 50 found here

Halifax Public Libraries’ Home Delivery Service

The Library’s Home Delivery Service, operating out of the Halifax North Memorial Public Library, has space for new clients living in the Halifax Peninsula, Clayton Park and Bedford areas of HRM. This service is available to residents who are unable to visit a library branch due to disability, long-term illness, or caregiver responsibilities. Library materials are delivered to your home every three weeks by Library staff, free of charge. You can request specific items or have library staff help you choose books (including large print), magazines, audio-books and DVDs.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about Home Delivery, please call 490-5725.

Volunteers Needed – English Language Learning at Halifax North Memorial Public Library

You can help an adult in your community improve his or her skills with a two to three hour weekly time commitment. No experience is necessary; training and support are available. For more information call 490-5779.

Employment at HRM

Halifax Regional Municipality has secured a new service provider to assist with the online job application process through a web-based job application system designed to provide job seekers with a modern, user-friendly tool when applying for jobs with Halifax Regional Municipality. For more information click here

Street and Sidewalk Snow Clearing/Parking Ban

It is very important that residents call in concerns about snow removal (streets or sidewalks) through 311 or contactHRM@halifax.ca so that issues are tracked and monitored by supervisors for a comprehensive analysis of problem areas. Please note that calls for service that are within the service standard will not be forwarded immediately to staff – these standards start when the storm ends. For further information on standards click here

Residents are encouraged to identify and mark, using stakes or reflectors, any retaining walls, planters, etc. that will be difficult to see and therefore subject to being damaged by sidewalk snow plowing equipment. Please call 311 to report any damages. Safety issues will be addressed immediately and other damage will be repaired in the spring.

Residents can also send in service requests to HRM through contactHRM@halifax.ca or through the webpage: https://apps.halifax.ca/311 For further information on standards click here and for information on the Parking Ban click here.

Solar City Inviting New Applications

HRM has re-opened registration for a limited number of new applicants for its successful Solar City Pilot Program. Through the program, homeowners in HRM can finance solar water heating systems through a new solar collector account with HRM. Sign up for a free site assessment to see if Solar City is right for you! To register, please visit our registration link: https://fluidsurveys.com/s/SolarCityRegistration/

311 – HRM’s Call Centre

HRM’s call centre is open 7 days/week from 7 am to 11 pm to respond to routine inquiries and complaints from HRM residents. Please use this service since it helps HRM keep track of issues that are of concern for residents (missed solid waste pickup, sidewalks not cleared, transit info or complaints, etc.) For more information on the service please visit the 311 website.

Citizen Guide to HRM Services 2014

The HRM Citizen’s Guide is now available online. There will be no print version of the Guide this year. You can also download the file by following this link –CitizensGuide2014_5Mar2014.pdfOr you can visit the website athttp://halifax.ca/citizenguide/

Potholes
They have arrived early and to report a pothole, please call #311, or fill out the on-line form here https://apps.halifax.ca/311 For more information on potholes, as well as HRM’s standards for pothole maintenance, please click here