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Shelter and Extreme Weather
Over the last year there has been a question in the community about the City’s response to extreme weather and the homeless.
Housing is a provincial issue, and shelters are funded by the Province in Nova Scotia. To their credit, the Province does fund 186 shelter beds, from youth to men to women and family shelters, and most of the time, both under normal circumstances and also during most extreme weather events, there are enough beds that no one has to sleep on the street.
As a result of the discussion I’ve been participating in with the shelter providers, we’ve expanded the role of 211, the telephone helpline, which will soon become a clearing house to connect the public who see people in need – someone sleeping outside on a dangerous night – with the help that person needs! 211 already helps to connect those in acute need with police, but connecting to service providers will help ensure those who do not have a good relationship with the police are able to get the help they need too.
There is also a great discussion going on about what constitutes extreme weather events. Extreme weather is when it is cold, warm or maybe extremely dangerous outside and life and health could be at risk. While most cities declare an emergency and activate Emergency Measures Organizations when it gets extremely cold (say -40C) there is still a need for an enhanced response below say -10 or -15. We hope to have someone designated to make the call and trigger the emergency protocol.
If an extreme weather event is declared, I would like Halifax to be at the table. I am asking Council to support a staff report on formalizing our rec centers and libraries being identified as daytime warming/cooling centres and allowing use of Halifax Transit for free to get to shelter if in need. I am pleased to say the libraries stepped up immediately and are doing this: http://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/about/news/whatsup/welcome-out-of-the-cold.html
These are all exciting developments that augment the provincial response and help make our community a little safer and more compassionate. I am excited that we have been able to make progress so quickly!
Fire Service Proposals
There is a lot of discussion around what Halifax’s plans may be for the operation of the Fire Service. The Fire Chief has presented a proposal to Council that would see three stations closed and their staff moved to other stations, two stations closed and relocated (again at no loss of firefighter complement) and a number of other changes around equipment, data collections and renewal of the service.
It is always a concern when a major change to an essential service is proposed, but all change is not necessarily bad change. The Fire Chief and his staff maintain that a five minute response time for the first responding truck can be met even if these stations are closed.
I will be writing a separate blog post on all these proposed changes, which I will share with you in the next week, but in the meantime I want the public to know that I and other Councillors will look at the evidence, best practices, and other factors and work to provide Halifax with the Fire Service we need to be safe.
Despite what some are saying the in media, please be assured that the question for me is how do we best provide coverage that meets our standard and ensures reasonable provision of safe and professional fire services, and that nothing that has been proposed compromises safety.
The Big Lift – MacDonald Bridge Closure
It is going to be a hassle, and it is going to be noisy, but it needs to be done! Beginning March 1, 2015 the bridge will close at 7:00pm and reopen at 5:30am from Sunday to Thursday (five nights a week). As work progresses, and to prepare for the segment replacements, the bike lane and sidewalk will be removed beginning Monday, June 29, 2015. The first of 46 deck segments will be replaced the weekend of August 28, 2015, beginning on the Dartmouth side of the bridge.
“The overnight bridge closures begin in March because there is a lot of preparatory work to complete in advance of the first deck segment being replaced,” explains Jon Eppell, chief bridge engineer for Halifax Harbour Bridges. For example, “We have to strengthen the existing truss to facilitate the temporary connections between the old and new deck segments to allow traffic on the bridge.”
The bike lane and sidewalk will be available for use from 5:30am until 7:00pm from March until the end of June. The contractor will need to close the bike lane and or the sidewalk to perform certain activities for some nights from 7pm until 5:30am. The details of these requirements are being confirmed. A shuttle service will be provided during overnight closures of the sidewalk and bike lane.
Schedule summary (subject to change)
- Continuous overnight bridge closures begin: March 1, 2015 – Sunday to Thursday (five nights a week) 7:00pm to 5:30am
- Sidewalk and bike lane removal and shuttle service begins: June 29, 2015
- First deck segment replacement: weekend of August 28, 2015
- Deck segment replacement: August 28, 2015 until Fall 2016
- Sidewalk and bike lane reopens: December 2016
- Project conclusion: September 2017
Public Meetings & Hearings
Case 19353 – Maynard Holdings
Monday January 19, 7pm | Halifax Hall, 2nd Floor City Hall
Application by W. M. Fares Group, for the lands of Maynard Holdings Limited, to consider amending the Halifax Municipal Planning Strategy and the Halifax Peninsula Land Use By-law to allow for an 8 storey multi-unit residential building with ground floor commercial at 2480 Maynard Street, Halifax, by development agreement.http://www.halifax.ca/planning/applications/Case19353Details.php
Facilitated Business Networking Event
January 12, 2015 4:30pm| Alteregos Café
MP Megan Leslie and the Halifax- Area Business Improvement Districts will host a networking event designed for local businesses to help each other thrive. Deadline to RSVP is January 7- to RSVP please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Film Screening: “The Debt Trap” and “In the Red”
January 12, 2015 7pm | Halifax Central Library
Join the Radical Imagination Project and the Cinema Politica Network for two film screenings about overcoming ‘our common problem’: debt. The screenings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.radicalimagination.org.
Money for Our Missions: A Fund Development Series for Non-Profit Organizations
January 13, 2015 9am | Captain William Spry Community Centre
This is a free workshop series hosted by the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia. To register, contact Laurie Cook at email@example.com.
Tenants’ Rights Lunch & Learn for Dalhousie Students
January 14, 2015 12:30pm | Room 303, Dalhousie Student Union Building
If you are new to renting in Halifax, this is an excellent information session to attend. Join a community legal worker and senior Dal law student to learn about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Free pizza provided!
Courage to Give Back Awards
January 15, 2015 5:30pm| Cunard Centre
Join Family SOS along with Awards Ambassador Brendan Maguire for an evening in honoring extraordinary individuals in our community. To purchase tickets, please call 902-455-5515
ABSW Karma Yoga Fundraiser
January 16, 2015 6pm| Breathing Space Yoga Studio
Come out and support the Association of Black Social Workers at this all-levels Karma Yoga Class. The association acts as a support group and professional development resource for African Canadian workers. The minimum requested donation is $20, with 100% of the proceeds going to the ABSW. For more information or to reserve your space, contact Tricia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902-209-0688
Halifax & West Community Council
January 20, 2015 6pm| Halifax Council Chamber, 3rd floor City Hall
The next meeting of the Halifax & West Community Council will take place on Tuesday, January 20th from 6-8pm.
Better Politics Awards
January 21, 2015 7pm | Loyola Conference Hall, Sobey Building, Saint Mary’s University
The Springtide Collective will be hosting the Better Politics Awards to honor Nova Scotians who have made a positive impact on our community and our democracy. The award recipients will be announced live at the event. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.springtidecollective.ca/betterpolitics/
Indigenous Speakers Series 2014-15
January 22, 2015 7pm| Halifax Central Library
The winter term of the Indigenous Speakers series presents ‘Indigenous Perspectives on Law & Rights: An evening of Discussion with Karen Drake, Naiomi Metallic and Sherry Pictou’. To keep up to date on future events happening in this series, visit the groups Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/328112840722572/
Community Society to End Poverty in Nova Scotia
January 23, 2015 12pm | Johanna B Oosterveld Centre, 2102 Gottingen Street.
Join Halifax MP Megan Leslie, Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan and local anti-poverty advocates at a roundtable conversation as they discuss how federal policy can move towards a national poverty elimination strategy. Pre-registration is required by January 21st as space is limited. A light lunch will be provided. To register, please email email@example.com or contact Stella Lord at 902-477-0094.
Art Opening: NSCAD Art Posters
January 23, 2015 5pm | Megan Leslie Community Art Gallery
In this exhibit, NSCAD students, educators and community partners address a number of important social issues through art. Issues include cultural diversity, cyberbullying, freedom of speech, race relations, and transgender issues. The show will run until April 2015.
Museum of Natural History: New Exhibits
January 30, 2015 | Museum of Natural History
The opening of two new exhibits will take place on Friday, January 30 at the Museum of Natural History: “Dinosaurs Unearthed” and “Sable Island: Over the Dunes, Beyond the Wild Horses”