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Students & District 7

HRM is home to tens of thousands of university & college students.  Starting this municipal election, students who’ve lived in Nova Scotia for three months or more can vote, even if you went away to work during the summer. The universities and colleges in Halifax are huge economic and social forces, making the city better in ways beyond counting.  Your voice counts and needs to be heard. STUDENTS ARE HALIFAX’S FUTURE Students need to feel – read more –

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Spend Smarter

Over the last decade the spending decisions of HRM Council have cause many to raise an eyebrow. A lack of vision and a decade of poor leadership has resulted in the many high profile mis-managed projects we’ve seen. Halifax needs to spend smarter on appropriate, affordable projects while maintaining our existing assets and services at a high standard. Spending smarter means identifying community objectives and developing affordable projects that meet the community’s needs. Halifax should – read more –

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Grow Sustainably

Since amalgamation a lot of our energy and city budget has been used to plan and subsidize unsustainable suburban sprawl. The costs of sprawl are driving up taxes and consuming resources further reducing our ability to provide basic services like transit. Halifax’s downtown is one of the largest contributors to HRM revenues, representing 18% of the property taxes raised by the municipality, yet the majority of spending by the municipality is concentrated outside of peninsular – read more –

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Fix Council

One of the biggest criticisms I hear about the Halifax Regional Municipality is that we must have better government. Every person I meet brings up this issue and it means a lot to people that their government is transparent, actively encourages their participation and follows its own rules. It’s time to elect people who will have better ideas for Halifax. Some of the steps that should be taken to fix government include: Establish a Municipal – read more –

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What you should expect from your councillor

While out campaigning, I’ve let  you know what I stand for and how I approach problem solving. I think you should have clear expectations of me if I am elected to represent you to regional council. As councillor, I will focus on three areas to improve the representation you receive:  communicating with residents, representing the district to HRM, and representing our community to city staff. This election comes at a critical time in Halifax’s development. We can’t afford – read more –

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A sensible approach to neighbourhood planning

One of the biggest concerns residents have is how new homes and renovations are often out of character with the current look and feel of the neighbourhood.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Our bylaws have been improved and can be made better still, to protect our residential neighbourhoods. We have a great example of planning through a participatory design process, known as HRM by Design.  Right now, that process is being used to – read more –

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Taxes and fairness in HRM

Taxes are a huge issue in Halifax this election.  Assessments are rising at a rate that far surpasses increase in income, driving sometimes huge tax increases for residents and businesses. Taxes must fairly reflect the cost of services delivered in each tax area, our business tax rates must be competitive, and tax rates must drop as property assessments increase reflecting the rise in income. First of all, we need to more directly connect the cost – read more –

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It is time for a transportation vision for Halifax

Halifax is growing quickly and residents are looking for a transit system that works for them. Last month HRM released the results of a poll that showed 61% of respondents want improved transit and 41% are interested in exploring commuter rail as a priority. Transit needs to be considered in an urban transportation context. In the city, we have commuters taking cars, walking, biking, and taking transit to get to work. At rush hour, a – read more –

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Towards open government: open information, data, and dialogue

HRM residents deserve a government that is transparent, open, accountable and respectful of citizens’ right to kn ow. The last few years have been painful for residents . Council has bounced from crisis to crisis, often behind a cloak of secrecy and in camera meetings. But what do we mean when we say “open government”? Open Government typically encompasses three concepts: Open Information, Open Data, and Open Dialogue.Open Information means having all the information needed – read more –

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Finding the balance – development, district 7, and HRM

Halifax’s economy is beginning to accelerate rapidly as the effects of the ships contract and the offshore gas exploration start to be felt. It is time to have an honest conversation about development. HRM manages development, where and how and what things are built, through plans and directives. The hope is that this will make sure we get development that helps make the city the kind of exciting and livable place we want it to – read more –

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Arena Strategy Expensive Mistake for HRM and District 7

On Tuesday, Regional Council will be asked to consider the Long Term Arena Strategy report which proposes to close all rinks in Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax and replace them with two new four pad facilities. The report says it will save HRM $2 million a year to operate the two new complexes. I think the question should be – should HRM spend $90-100 million to build new facilities instead of repairing the existing ones for $18.8 million? – read more –

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Campaign finance reform is essential for HRM

It is important that how elections are funded, and what that funding can be spent on, be clearly defined and carefully monitored. That’s why the province has strong campaign finance laws, as does the federal government. Unfortunately, municipal election rules are weak – they increase the possibility for corruption and lead to unfair elections. As candidates, both of us believe it’s time to strengthen our campaign finance rules. Elections in the HRM are governed by the – read more –

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Public Safety and Crime in HRM

Halifax is building a troublesome reputation as a community that is struggling with crime and its aftermath. It comes to no surprise that we  find ourselves debating the steps that we should take to reduce crime while addressing the root causes. In the days that followed the release of ambiguous stats that provided an unclear picture of what we are facing in terms of crime, conversations in our community were strong and diverse. Headlines that – read more –

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HRM needs an affordable housing plan, not empty words.

Halifax is starting to experience the kind of economic growth that drives up housing costs, creating challenges for many who struggle to provide safe and secure homes for themselves and their families. Recently Councillor Uteck proposed rent control as a solution. I think HRM can do better. Rent control is just one tool out of many that could be used to create affordable housing and foster housing security.  Rent control is also a provincial issue, not municipal. – read more –

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HRM arts funding in crisis

This opinion piece was run the Herald May 26, 2012. Read the full opinion piece in the Chronicle Herald. POST SCRIPT: After this piece was published I was asked to be lead author and opinon wrangler for the Arts Section of the Centre for Policy Alternatives Alternative Budget for HRM.  I have linked to the excerpted arts and culture section here.  This is a great place to start with a new, real cultural plan for HRM. HRM arts – read more –