One year later: change, accomplishment, and what is yet to be done.

pb longOne year ago today I was sworn in as Councillor for HRM District 7. It seems like a good time to reflect on what has changed, what has been accomplished and what has yet to be done.

I hope that the Mayor and Council continue to be seen as a more thoughtful and less fractious group than before.  Council has had good high quality debate on big issues when required, from Otter Lake to storm-water payment to urban core investment.  I think the public is starting to share some cautious optimism and the beginning of confidence in the direction HRM is headed in.

Personally, I feel the accomplishments so far have been many, ranging from big to small. Close to my heart was the establishment of the arts committee to review arts funding at HRM.  Another was the incorporation of the five year, $50 million intergovernmental investment fund in the urban core (downtown improvements) into the CAO’s business plan as well as the municipal ask to the Federal and Provincial governments.

Smaller victories also count.   Examples include: changes to the working of council that require staff to get reports in six days before council; the replacement of 400 sidewalk slabs in downtown especially on Barrington street, wiping out the asphalt patches; the $125,000 plan to renovate Spencer Park and create a green safe place for kids to play behind St Mary’s school; the paving of the bridge to Belmont-on-the-arm after decades of neglect; the willingness and gung ho attitude of HRM staff to rapidly fix mobility issues on sidewalks and curb cuts to make life easier for people in wheelchairs.

Fundamental change has also occurred.  When Bill 83 passed the House and allowed density bonusing and site plan approval throughout the urban core, like we already have in downtown – and it included an affordable housing provision.  HRM is pursuing an affordable housing strategy inside the provincial framework after years of not taking any responsibility.    HRM now has set up a Local Immigration Partnership, finally taking an active role in attracting and retaining immigrants.   Council has voted to ask the Province for powers to charge development charges on all costs related to subdivision of land.

I am especially proud of my Participatory Budget with the District 7 capital funds.  It was exciting to see hundreds of people directly engaged in making the district a better place through projects that intergenerational, inclusive, provide healthy spaces to gather and connect communities within District 7.  I look forward to doing this again in the Spring of 2014.

I know that the best is yet to come. The policy seeds planted since the election are about to start to mature.  We will see big changes with the regional plan, metro transit, student housing issues, recreational investment, new facilities, and more.

For a full report card on my progress after one year towards my thirty campaign promises, click here.

I have no problem getting out of bed early every morning to go to work, even while I am working as hard as I ever have in my life! As things settle into more of a routine am trying to make sure I get back to residents quickly, balancing all the other work. Despite all the challenges, this is an exciting time for Halifax, and it is an honour to serve you these last 12 months.

I am excited to continue to work with you to help make our city a better place.