Policing & Public Safety Review, meetings and hearings, Coronavirus Update #34 + more

Hello all,

Breaking news – right after I hit send on the email newsletter we got the “Friday surprise” from the provincial government – Facemasks will be mandatory in all indoor public spaces in NS starting July 31st. I strongly support this. For more info visit https://novascotia.com/coronavirus

As we settle into summer and our COVID numbers remain good I am going to start sending this newsletter on the normal, every 2-3 weeks schedule, starting today. If required I can ramp the newsletters back up, but right now there isn’t really enough going on to require a weekly update.

I also want residents to know I’m going to be taking ten days off starting next Wednesday, but still checking emails and calls from time to time, easy to do when you are not leaving the province!  Liam is off next week, so if you need assistance please call 311, or the council support office main line 902-490-4050. 

I’m going to be painting my deck and doing some stuff around the house, but also relaxing and taking in the sights!  I will absolutely be using the Heart, Soul, Halifax guide to plan some of our time off, you can have a look at it here: https://discoverhalifaxns.com/heart-soul-halifax-inspiration-guide/

We also hope to be doing some day trips around our beautiful province visiting family, Frenchys, and recharging and getting ready for the election period and a couple of big council meetings coming in late August and September!

I gave notice of motion last Council meeting regarding what I hope will be a broad and sweeping review of policing and public safety in Halifax. You can read about it here: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/local/councillor-pushing-for-in-depth-review-of-policing-public-safety-in-hrm-476502/

This is in part a response to the demands from many in our community that has resulted from the Black Lives Matter movement, the murder of George Floyd, and have lead to recent demands that include for a process that will engage “in a public consultation process together with the Board [of Police Commissioners]similar to those which have taken place in Edmonton and Toronto, where community members, groups, and non-profits are involved in sharing proposals aimed at reforming police practices, improving police accountability, and redistributing funds to civilian-led social services, including in the areas of housing, mental health, addictions, and employment support.”

My view, shared by many others, is that police departments have over the years taken on responsibilities far outside their mandate include social work, routine security work, and other non-criminal enforcement, in Halifax’ case that is things like Park Patrol, or responding to bylaw issues on the weekend or after 7 pm, like noise complaints.

To address these issues, many Canadian cities are experimenting with tiered policing (https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2014/05/20/twotiered_policing_inevitable_criminologist_says.html ) and US cities are working on mental health response teams ( https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/458966 ).

On top of that, there are things like crossing guards and youth programs that are operated by the Halifax Regional Police department and probably should not be, should be run by HRM directly.

Of course we know there are issues of systemic racism in policing in Halifax that were clearly identified in the Wortley Report which would have to be considered during a review of policing and public safety.

The goal of the motion is to examine all of this, engage with the public, and make recommendations to Council for what changes should be made to focus police on crime, and create other structures to deal with civil, municipal compliance and mental health matters.

Honestly, I get a lot of questions about specifics, and the answer is “I do not know.”  We need to have a meaningful discussions with the public and determine what paths we may want to explore.  Only through engaging in this process could we determine what level of change is appropriate and we will act on. I look forward to participating in this process, should Council approve my motion.

Public Hearings, Meetings, Engagements

Halifax and West Community Council
Tuesday August 11, 2020 6-8 p.m | Virtual Meeting.

The following public hearings are scheduled for this meeting:

  • Case 21730: Development Agreement for 205 Bedford Highway, Halifax
  • Case 22503 – 3575-3587 Percy St. & Joseph Howe Dr., Halifax

The virtual public hearings will be webcast. Residents may speak at the hearing by telephone, those wishing to speak should contact the Municipal Clerk’s office before 4:30 p.m. on August 10, 2020 at clerks@halifax.ca or 902.490.4210. For further information, please visit https://www.halifax.ca/business/planning-development.

Special Halifax Regional Council
August 18, 2020 – 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m | Virtual Meeting

This meeting will be webcast on Halifax.ca
You can find the agenda, minutes and reports for Regional Council, and Committees of Council at https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports

Centre Plan Package B
Public Engagement | to August 31, 2020

Package B is the part of Centre Plan that says what can be built in the neighbourhoods full of wood-framed single-family homes and multi-units.  It also talks about the industrial, park, institutional zones, but a huge issue will be “what is R1 and R2 going to change into?”  So for many of you, this will be the change that says what your neighbors might be able to do for the foreseeable future. It is really important to get involved, especially as a homeowner.

Staff are launching a series of online surveys to gather feedback on the draft Centre Plan – Package B documents.  The surveys can be accessed from the Centre Plan webpage at www.centreplan.ca.  Any questions can be directed to planhrm@halifax.ca or 311. The surveys will be open until August 31st.

Halifax Regional Council – Public Hearing Regarding Secondary Suites
Tuesday September 1, 2020 6pm and Thursday September 3, 2020 6pm if required

Council will hold a public hearing regarding a by-law to allow secondary suites (backyard and granny suites) in all areas of HRM, subject to building and lot size among other controls.More information here: https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/200707rc11111.pdf

Events and News

Coburg Road Bridge Rehabilitation
Canadian National Railway (CN) and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are proceeding with bridge and roadway rehabilitation work on the arch bridge structure at Coburg Road in 2020. The work will involve a major rehabilitation of the structure and reinstatement of the roadway. A temporary bridge adjacent to the current bridge will provide access to neighbourhood during construction. Work has recently started on site and you will start to see noticeable changes in the next few weeks. All efforts will be taken to reduce the impact on your property during construction. During the construction parking access will be impacted in order to complete the work. Please contact the CN Public Inquiry Line at 1-888-888-5909 or at contact@cn.ca if you have any questions.

The following street closures or sidewalk disruptions have recently been added to the RoadWorks map

  • SOUTH ST from SEYMOUR ST to WATERLOO ST, starting on 2020-07-24

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

Coronavirus Update #34 – Transit masks and fares, hfxAlert, Parking enforcement

As of Friday, July 24th, in keeping with the public health order, masks will be mandatory on all Halifax Transit buses and ferries. Children under two and those with a medical reason for not wearing a mask are exempt.
Transit riders are responsible for bringing their own masks. As part of a mask awareness campaign, Halifax Transit staff will continue to hand out masks periodically, through pop-up events at select locations across the municipality. Times and locations will be announced in advance via @hfxtransit on Twitter. Those who are feeling ill are reminded not use any transit service until their health returns to normal.

Capacity Increase – Saturday, August 1
The mandatory use of masks and the installation of Polycarbonate shields will provide appropriate mitigation of risk associated with the spread of COVID-19. All capacity restrictions on buses, Access-a-Buses and ferries will be lifted as of Saturday, August 1st.

Fare collection – Saturday, August 1
Fare collection on buses and ferries will resume on Saturday, August 1 and passengers will once again be permitted to enter buses through the front doors. March and April passes will be honoured until August 31. Some retailers may also still have April passes for sale, which can continue to be purchased and used until the end of August. For all information regarding transit passes, including updated expiry dates, please visit our website at https://halifax.ca/transit

hfxALERT is the new mass notification system for the municipality, keeping residents informed about emergencies and operations updates.  hfxALERT will send urgent and non-urgent notifications from Halifax Regional Police, Halifax Fire & Emergency’s Emergency Management Division, as well as municipal winter parking ban notices. For more information or to sign up visit the website at https://www.halifax.ca/fire-police/fire/emergency-management/hfxalert.

As municipal parking enforcement has resumed with the lifting of some public health restrictions, all residential and monthly parking permits that expired in March through to July will no longer be valid after Monday, August 31.Parking restrictions related to monthly and annual residential permits will be enforced effective Tuesday, September 1.Residents can renew monthly and annual residential parking permits at one of the municipality’s customer service centres.

How can we help?

Call my office
Call my office for assistance with your municipal issues.  You can reach my Coordinator Liam MacSween during the business day, his phone number is 902-490-2012 and his email is macswel@Halifax.CA

311 – HRM’s Call Centre
HRM’s call centre is open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to respond to routine inquiries and complaints from HRM residents. Please use this service since it helps HRM keep track of issues that are of concern for residents (missed solid waste pickup, sidewalks not cleared, transit info or complaints, etc.) For more information please visit http://www.halifax.ca/311/

Regional Council Reports and Agendas
If you want to read reports coming to Regional Council (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda please go to: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/regional-council

Halifax and West Community Council Reports and Agendas
Community Council meets on Tuesday evenings that alternate with Regional Council. Please check the webpage here for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations and times. https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/community-councils/halifax-west-community-council

Peninsula Planning Advisory Council Reports and Agendas
Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee meets once a month to discuss and provide feedback to council on planning proposals for the three districts on the peninsula. Please check the webpage for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations and times: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/boards-committees-commissions/h/halifax-peninsula-planning-advisory-committee