Update #33 – Budget Priorities, Gorsebrook Park Meeting Tonight, More



Fall means budget time.  Two weeks ago we had our first budget meeting, and Council directed staff to hold the line on residential tax revenue.  Proposal for residential taxes is that the average tax bill (not including provincial property tax) to stay subject to finalizing budget to $1829 per home.

Let me share some key budget numbers with you.  Adjusted for inflation (2002 dollars) municipal expenses per home has dropped slightly each of the last three years, from $2975 per dwelling in 2012/13 to $2920 last year.  Taxes on the average home have risen from $1824 to $1949, which is about 1% higher than inflation in that period.

While the annual City of Calgary tax study shows Halifax continues to have second lowest per home average tax bill in study cities, I feel that it is appropriate to keep taxes level next year, in part to bring revenue growth in line with inflation, and below GDP and income growth.

The municipality is not keeping taxes low by going into debt. Tax supported debt fell again last year by $6 million, following a pattern since 1998 when debt was $347.5 this brings the current debt to $250.9 million. Only 21% of Halifax’ capital budget in 2015-16 came from debt, so we really are paying our way out of current revenue and cost shares with other levels of government.

All of this of course depends on the final assessment role, funding plans and programs of other governments, and other directions of Council that may spend more money at the last minute!

Switching to upcoming meetings, please consider attending my Gorsebrook Park Meeting tonight from 6:30pm-8:30pm.   I am bringing together the teams and leagues the book the fields as well as the community association, school communities and of course residents. Gorsebrook Park is the heart of our community, and it needs a little love in return.  We will talk about about the history of the park, how it is used, and then start to explore ideas about how we can make it even better! The Gorsebrook park meeting is being hosted at Saint Mary’s in Loyola L283, which is second floor of the Loyola building, on the south side of the campus.

Finally, we are setting up a Joint Emergency Management (JEM) team in peninsula south. This is a community-based volunteer organization that works with HRM’s EMO and has the motto “neighbours helping neighbours”. We’ve had two meetings so far.  We will be meeting at the end of the month, Wednesday 25 of November, 7pm at City Hall, please join us!


Last chance for input on community facilities – Comments required before Nov. 1!
I’d like to take the opportunity to ask you to participate in our public consultation regarding the updating of the Community Facility Master Plan. Your comments are important and will be shared with Halifax Regional Council along with the final revised plan, in the early months of 2016. As a reminder, the following links will take you to a public on-line survey : http://fluidsurveys.com/s/cfmp/

We would really appreciate your comments on the survey about any of our recreational facilities – albeit an arena, community centres, local halls, Ball Fields, playgrounds, parks, trails, open green spaces, etc. It takes about five minutes to complete, and will be on-line only until the end of October. So please provide your input now. Thanks!


2016 Volunteer Award nominations
Do you know an amazing volunteer, individual or group making a difference in your community? Each year the Mayor and Regional Council recognize the extraordinary contributions of individuals and groups who volunteer their time and skills to provide services and programs in municipal communities. The 2016 Volunteer Award nominations are now open, so nominate an outstanding individual or group today! Nomination deadline is December 11, 2015. For more information, visithttp://www.halifax.ca/volunteerservices/awards/index.php

Pizza and Politics: Beyond the Ballot Box
Thursday, October 29, 2015 5:30-8:30pm | George Dixon Centre
The Springtide Collective will be hosting an event for young people aged 16-30ish to reflect on the results of the recent federal election. Learn about ways to be engaged in politics in your community once the election is over, connect with other individuals and groups working on issues affecting young people in Nova Scotia, and enjoy some delicious pizza! For more information and to RSVP, please visithttp://springtide.nationbuilder.com/pizza_and_politics_night_3_20151029

Neighbourhood Placemaking Program Application Deadline: October 30
Neighbourhood Placemaking provides guidance and support to community members interested in hosting a project in their neighbourhood. This could be an intersection painting, the building of benches for a local gathering space, a community garden, or any idea that brings community members together to create public art that gives a sense of place and community building. The program provides staff support and resources for these projects.  For more information and to access applications forms, please visithttp://www.halifax.ca/culture/communityarts/placemaking.php

Community Health Board Wellness Fund Application Deadline: November 1
The Department of Health and Wellness has grants available for groups working on community health projects. Applications are being accepted until Sunday, November 1st. For more information, please contact Cathy Leslie at cathy.leslie@nshealth.ca or 902-487-0592.

Crosswalk Safety Awareness Day: November 4
Crosswalk Safety Awareness Day was created to help educate drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be cautious and avoid distractions when approaching or using a crosswalk. Be part of #HeadsUpHalifax and volunteer as an HRM Crosswalk Captain to help promote safety awareness at one of the many crosswalks throughout the municipality on the morning of Wednesday, November 4th. Community members including police, Councillors, and the Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee (CSAC) will volunteer their time to show their support and create crosswalk safety awareness. Volunteers will share information with residents and hand out promotional giveaways including high-visibility gloves, tuques, stickers, reflective armbands, temporary tattoos, and handouts with crosswalk safety facts.  For more information and to volunteer, visithttp://www.halifax.ca/headsuphalifax/CrosswalkSafetyAwarenessDay.php

Jarvis Lecture
Thursday, November 5 2015 7:30pm-9pm | Sacred Heart School Theatre
Friends of the Public Gardens invite you to attend the 7th Annual Jarvis Lecture “100 years of Beauty”. The Jarvis Lecture Series is a free public lecture offered at least once a year to the general public on topics related to the Halifax Public Gardens for the purpose of increasing the knowledge of the Gardens, its purpose, assets and its relation to the community. The series is named for Mary Margaret Jarvis, a benefactor of The Friends of the Public Gardens., whose mandate it is to protect, conserve and promote the Halifax Public Gardens.

Hackamarine 2015
Friday, November 6, 2015 4pm | Killam Memorial Library
Hackamarine 2015 is a student-led hackathon for Oceanography and other Marine programs. The Dal Entrepreneurship Society is looking for rebels who are brave enough to “hack” concepts and principles in Oceanography and Marine programs and eventually turn research findings and ideas into business start-ups. Registration is free, and is available by visiting https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hackamarine-2015-tickets-19132430615?aff=ebrowse

Christmas at the Forum
November 6-8, 2015 | Halifax Forum
This annual holiday tradition should not be missed! Affectionately known as “The Big One”, the show has a reputation for presenting the largest, most diverse selection of quality crafts and art, creating a joyous and festive atmosphere for the last 35 years. Christmas at the forum features crafts from local artisans, food, arts, antiques and lots of door prizes. The event runs Friday 10am-9pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, and Sunday 10am-5pm. For more information, visit http://www.christmasattheforum.com/index.htm

Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala
Saturday, November 7, 2015 7:30pm | Halifax Central Library
The Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala celebrates the best of the province’s art and culture. This year’s theme, Art Out Loud, reflects the award finalists and winners who work tirelessly dedicating their lives towards a career in the cultural industry. Guests are encouraged to dress according to the theme: as LOUD as possible! Tickets are free of charge and are available at http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/creative-nova-scotia-awards-gala-tickets-19002304404

Town Hall on Accessibility
Monday, November 9, 2015 6:30-8:30pm | Dartmouth Sportsplex
HRM’s annual Town Hall on Accessibility provides the opportunity to discuss and receive input on current projects relating to facility design and construction of HRM buildings, parks and recreation programs, traffic and transportation, winter operations, accessible transit, municipal compliance, and 311 contact centres. Sighted guides, ASL interpretation, and CART service will be provided. For further information, contact Jennifer Weagle by phone 902-490-6517 or email weaglej@halifax.ca

SEEN Presents: Building Neighbourhoods for a Changing Demographic
Friday, November 13, 2015 1-4pm | The Mayflower Curling Club
The Silver Economy Engagement Network’s (SEEN) mission is to empower its members to make a meaningful contribution to society by providing a network of shared educational economic and cultural linkages and opportunities for Nova Scotians who are retired or contemplating retirement. Join SEEN for a panel discussion and Q&A, breakout group discussions, and a Keynote address by Frank Palermo, Professor in the School of Planning and School of Architecture at Dalhousie University. For more information or to register, please contact the Division of Continuing Education by phone 902-420-5492 or email conted@smu.ca

Volunteer Conference 2015
November 21-22, 2015 | Harbourview Holiday Inn, Dartmouth
The volunteer conference is a fantastic opportunity for residents who volunteer or would like to volunteer in our community. In its 15th year, the Volunteer Conference gives residents an opportunity to participate in training, networking and learning that help them become more effective in their work and provide strong volunteer capacity in the region.  Registration is now open and available by visiting http://www.halifax.ca/volunteerservices/VolunteerConference.php

2015 Halifax Christmas Tree Lighting
Saturday, November 28, 2015 6-7pm | Grand Parade
What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than at the annual Halifax Christmas Tree lighting! This year’s festivities will feature music and entertainment, fireworks, lighting of the Christmas tree and a visit from the big guy- Santa Claus! Feed Nova Scotia will be accepting non-perishable food or cash donations at the event. For more information visithttp://www.halifax.ca/events/HRMChristmasTreeLighting.php