Black Lives Matter, Scooters, Roadwork, Coronavirus Update #28: Rec, Sports, Parks

Black Lives Matter and Policing in Halifax

I’ve gotten almost seven hundred emails in the last three days and I have been trying to respond to everyone with the following info.

These are certainly difficult times. I find what is happening in the US unacceptable and horrifying, while also recognizing we have our own weight of institutional and systemic racism that we continue to suffer under here in Nova Scotia and Canada.

Black lives matter.  Without justice, there will be no peace, nor should there be. Black people and people of colour need to be able to walk the streets of Halifax (and anywhere) and know they will be treated the same as any other person… and that is simply not the case.  We have a lot of work to do.

A year ago I am sorry to say I voted to buy the police the armoured vehicle.
I agonized over it. During the meeting, I was messaging my wife saying “I don’t know what to do,” even as we sat in Council.

At the time, I was convinced that vehicles like this have been (arguably) needed in Portapique, Fredericton, Moncton in the last five years and I thought that was enough of a reason to have one. I was never sure it was the right decision.

Portapique happened and I thought briefly I had made the right decision, and now a short few weeks later everything has changed.

Early in the last ten days I became convinced I had been wrong.

The potential damage this vehicle could cause, simply by being here, and especially if used as we see in the US, is beyond calculating.

A friend of mine says a critical thing to embrace during this time is to be willing to be wrong, and to listen without fear, and I am listening and will support Council cancelling the purchase.

There are a number of things that will be coming forward in the coming weeks and months related to including:

  • looking to strengthen the civilian oversight by the Board of Police Commissioners
  • exploring establishing a non-police mental and community health response of some kind (similar to what many defund supporters are proposing, and which was recommended by our last Police Chief) example here https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mental-health-team-responds-to-emergencies-oregon-alternative-to-police-2019-10-23
  • exploring whether given technological advances whether body cams are now affordable and effective, unlike five years ago when it was not
  • cancelling the armoured vehicle purchase (even if a penalty has to be paid).

In addition to policing, I will continue to work on other social justice issues such as working to get the province to either fix or give the municipality control of affordable housing, requiring community benefit agreements on major construction projects to benefit the African Nova Scotian community, and adopting a fair wage policy at HRM.

I am sorry if I did not answer all your questions and concerns, but I hope this information helps to explain where I am at with all this, during this difficult time.

Scooters

Gotten dozens of emails about the eScooters zipping around Halifax.  Unlike bicycles, scooters are not considered vehicles and are therefore not allowed on roadways. They are classified the same as in line skates and skate boards and as a result are acceptable (edit: legally speaking) to be on sidewalks. Helmets must be worn at all times, but the law has nothing specific on e-scooters. It is the same in other jurisdictions as well.

The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act states that you must wear a helmet and that scooters are not permitted on roadways. The relevant sections are below:

  • 170B (1) No person shall ride on or operate a scooter, skate board, in-line skates, roller skates or other device prescribed by the regulations on a public street, lane, road, alley or sidewalk unless the person is wearing a helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin.
  •  170B (3) For greater certainty, nothing in this Section authorizes any person to ride on or operate a scooter, a skate board, in-line skates, roller skates or other device prescribed by the regulations on a roadway if otherwise prohibited by this Act or another enactment.
  • 172 (1) Subject to subsection (2) it shall be an offence for a person upon roller skates or a skate board to go on a roadway except while crossing on a crosswalk or unless on a roadway authorized by the Minister. An amendment was made to this section (https://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/58th_2nd/3rd_read/b111.htm) in 2002 – 4 (1) Subsection 172 (1) of Chapter 293 is amended by striking out “roller skates or a skate board” in the second line and substituting “a scooter, a skate board, in-line skates, roller skates or a device prescribed by the regulations”.

Halifax Regional Police have not received any formal complaints this year in regard to e-scooters, however, they are aware through social media of citizen concerns in relation to e-scooters and they are monitoring the situation to ensure people are following the regulations. It is important for all road users to follow the rules of the road. If you see an issue please call police non-emergency at 902.490.5020.

Roadwork

OAKLAND RD from BEAUFORT AVE to STUDLEY AVE, starting on 2020-06-03
SACKVILLE ST from BARRINGTON ST to GRANVILLE ST, starting on 2020-05-31
BARRINGTON ST from SACKVILLE ST to PRINCE ST, starting on 2020-05-31
ARGYLE ST from PRINCE ST to CARMICHAEL ST, starting on 2020-05-31
TOWER RD from SOUTH ST to INGLIS ST, starting on 2020-06-04

You can find out road closure details on the HRM Roadworks map: https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-sidewalks/RoadWorks

Halifax Youth Honour Choir – Virtual Choir

Coronavirus update #28 – Rec programs, life guards, rinks, sports

Happy reopening sorta mostly day. First day of our new normal.Here are some specific updates to common questions about the return of limited recreation services:

Summer camps

Staff is still working on what kind of summer camps might go ahead. These will not be day camps as you have known them. A limited number of participants and a limited number of sites, probably for half days. These programs will be offered to provide respite for parents, not child care all day. We know this creates great difficulties for many but there are so many issues with safety and staffing. More updates when I have them

Recruiting lifeguards

Talking about staffing challenges – HRM is currently recruiting for qualified Beach Lifeguards for supervised beaches throughout the municipality. We have a lot of positions to fill, and fewer applicants than normal. If you have the following qualifications, you are encouraged to apply:

  • National Lifeguard Service Award, Standard First Aid, CPR
  • Certified in NLS Waterfront
  • Certified in AED

Please visit the HRM website to apply: https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/employment/work-halifax-regional-municipality. Applications will be received up to midnight, June 15th.

Ice Rinks

Rinks will not be open today (June 5). HRM is working on a re-opening plan for all recreation facilities, which includes rinks. Our facilities are one of the priorities for EMO right now.  That re-opening plan will result in changes to the facility to meet the public health restrictions. HRM will communicate a phased re-opening plan once it is finalized.

Team sports

In terms of sport restrictions, each Provincial Sport Organization is working with Sport NS and the province to prepare their “Return to Play” plan. That will outline any specific sport changes. As we understand it, the hockey one is still being finalized.  Once that is finalized, that will need to be implemented for them to use of an HRM facility or field.

Most sport groups have indicated to us that they are still a couple weeks away from being in a position to “re-start” their sports.

Field limitations

Team training on field is permitted with a maximum 10 people TOTAL (this includes coaches). Even though this is permitted, physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained by all people on the field. HRM fields will be open for booking on June 1st.  Each sport must follow the regulations set out by their governing body, ie Baseball Nova Scotia, Soccer Nova Scotia, Sport Nova Scotia – each governing organization has a specific ‘Return to Play’ activity plan which meets provincial health regulations.

Slow Streets, Main Streets, Walking Space

Measures put in place as part of Halifax’ Mobility Response Plan (Slow Streets, expanded sidewalks) have been added to our RoadWorks map – they are the streets / areas marked in orange: http://halifax.ca/roadworks

Do you have an idea for additional actions to help residents move safely through the region? Drop a pin on the map https://shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/mobilityresponse & tell us why you think adaptations are needed. Your valuable feedback will help staff determine the next steps for making temp changes to streets.