Muffler noise, hurricanes, upcoming meetings & Coronavirus Update 37 the back to school edition

Hello all,

Summer is behind us, back to school is behind us, and fall is here!

A couple of issues I wanted to share with you briefly.

First is I had a number of questions about why I was against commercial on every street corner in the ER1 zone I discussed in the last newsletter.  The article was already running pretty long so I didn’t explain what I meant.

Local service commercial and strong retail strips or commercial main streets are hubs for a community.  I have no problem with corner stores!  Part of the Centre Plan analysis is there is a main street 10-15 minute walk from everywhere in the region except the far north and far south of the peninsula.

Everything goes retail/commercial business approach initially proposed in ER zones can be a problem because the built form is for the most part still houses, either single-family or multiunit conversions. After 7 years as Councillor I know the corner store zones we have now can be a huge problem in terms of noise and incompatibility with surrounding residential uses.  Land use bylaws do not allow for the control of open hours, for example.

What I am proposing as a change to the draft of the Centre Plan is to allow neighborhood commercial in some areas by development agreement only, which gives the city the ability to control the time of day and other aspects.   So a local café or corner store yes (subject to public hearing)!  Serving pizza to loud patrons at 3 am when the shop is surrounded by homes filled with children sleeping, no.

That said at the end of September the new Centre Plan engagement timeline will be brought forward and we still have 9-12 months to talk about what we want the plan to enable and what protections we want.

Finally – muffler noise has become a huge issue this summer.  I’ve been asking residents who contact me to email our local MLAs and the Minister of Transportation Infrastructure Renewal.  Recently some residents shared with me that the response from the Provincial government is “we gave them (HRM) the power already.”

Right now, police could charge people for revving the engine at a red light, or having a broken or no muffler.  The problem remains when the car is moving.  The online markets for loud aftermarket “performance mufflers” means more people have installed them than ever before.

Drivers are riding in a functioning car with a muffler at normal speed but making excessive noise.  What HRM has asked for and police say they need is a provincial regulation that spells out how to measure, with portable equipment, if something is too loud.

The new act allows the Minister to “prescribing the manner by which noise must be measured for the purpose of the definition of excessive noise” but this has not yet been done. I will keep pushing the Province about this, though it appears they do not appreciate the difficulties police face in terms of making sure the ticket is not dismissed in court.

That’s all for now, a short newsletter follows.

Vote anywhere any time

Election 2020

The municipal election is just around the corner. The municipality runs elections for Mayor and Council, as well as the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial.

The 2020 election will be held on Saturday,  October 17.  Telephone and electronic voting will run from October 6 to 14, and Advanced Polling dates are October 10 and 13.
In order to make sure you get a voter registration letter so you can vote online, you need to make sure you are on the Voters’ List.

As I said to a resident the other day, most of us want to vote electronically and avoid the polling places due to fear of cooties ie COVID, so please call before October 5, 2020 to 902-490-VOTE (8683) to confirm your information on the voters’ list and make any necessary changes.

Electors may also be added to the list if they are not already included. You can also look and see if you are on the voters’ list here: https://votersearch.halifax.ca/hrm/onvoterslist.html

Public Meetings

Halifax Regional Council
Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 10 am | Virtual Meeting

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Regional Centre Community Council
Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 6 pm | Virtual Meeting

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Halifax & West Community Council
Thursday, September 24, 2020, 6 pm | Virtual Meeting

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee
Monday, September 28, 2020, 4:30 pm | Virtual Meeting

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Halifax Regional Council
Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 10 am | Virtual Meeting

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Community Events

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

  • SACKVILLE ST from BARRINGTON ST to GRANVILLE ST, starting on 2020-09-14
  • SOUTH PARK ST from SACKVILLE ST to SPRING GARDEN RD, starting on 2020-09-17

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

A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency in NS
Thursday, 24 September 2020 from 19:00-20:30 | Zoom Call

Join Seth Klein, author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, for an evening of music, a reading, author Q&A, and a panel discussion with local climate emergency activists. Seth Klein’s new book, A Good War, explores how we can align our politics and economy with what the science says we must do to address the climate crisis. But Klein brings an original and uniquely hopeful take to this challenge. The book is structured around lessons from the Second World War – the last time Canada faced an existential threat. Others have said we need a “wartime approach” to climate change, but this is the first book to delve into what that could actually look like. Canada’s wartime experience, Klein contends, provides an inspirational reminder that we have done this before. We have mobilized in common cause across class, race and gender, and entirely retooled our economy in the space of a few short years. Read more about the book here: https://www.sethklein.ca/

Guests include Dorene Bernard (panelist and local climate activist), Tina Yeonju Oh (panelist and local climate activist), Christine Saulnier (moderator, and Director of CCPA-NS), Joel Plaskett (local musician), Sherry Yano (guest speaker and employee with the David Suzuki Foundation)

The event will take place on Zoom at 7pm ADT. Registration is required; please register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0opbc2ZqSW2Ehd4WdsNFZQ

Victoria Park Labyrinth
Victoria Park at Spring Garden | Sundays until October 4 (unless it is raining).

Every Sunday afternoon a labyrinth is being set up at Victoria Park on the grass for anyone who wishes to walk it.  It is a place to let go of daily preoccupations, to consciously be present.  It is a project supported by Cathedral Church of All Saints but offered to the community.

A little background might be in order.  During the tumultuous and painful events of the past several months – COVID-19, Portapique, the protests following the murder of George Floyd, the healing walks held for Chantal Moore and other missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, and so much more, it became increasingly apparent that we are not separate entities -what happens to one has a ripple effect on others.

With so many people in distress, and isolation easing somewhat,  the labyrinth is being set up weekly to provide a means to counteract stress and anxiety.    Here, we are able to breathe, walk, relax, meditate, pray.  It is a place of welcome for all.  Labyrinths are universal across cultures and faiths (or no faiths) and are tools for meditation, for mindfulness, for healing, for wellness.

We chose Victoria Park for its proximity to hospitals,  universities, and shopping areas in an area where many people travel on foot.  It is a tranquil location under a canopy of trees that provides shade and promotes an awareness of creation.  In this space of harmony, we are able to renew ourselves.  It is also a place to listen to the stories of others, to perhaps be more ok with being “uncomfortable” with new viewpoints, ideas.

We are distancing, allowing one person or “household” group on the labyrinth at one time, using masks, if needed, for conversation.  We ask people to remove their shoes to protect the labyrinth.

Coronavirus Update #37 – back to school, isolation,

The University school year begins
So far, three students have tested positive for COVID, as of the last report I saw.  Under 4000 students from outside the Atlantic bubble have come to Nova Scotia and all of them are being tested three times in 14 days of isolation.

While I am sure that some small number of them are breaking the rules, the majority of risk is not with people from “away” it is large gatherings that violate the 10 person rule. These may be students, or not, they are mostly from in the bubble.  They are still breaking the rules. The fine is $1000.

There are enforceable mechanisms through the Health Protection Act. There have been charges with the Health Protection Act. The police are accountable for the HPA https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/alerts-notices/#provincial-state-emergency  Concerned residents need to contact the HRP Non-Emergency Line (902-490-5020) if they have a concern, but HRP triages all their calls and determines a response, so if there is a major accident or event happening they may not come right away, or at all

One thing to remember is an Ontario plate does not mean they just arrived.  Plenty of folks were here all summer and do not have to isolate now.

Also, remember privacy laws remain in place during this crisis. There is NO place for vigilante action, public shaming, or sharing of possible violator’s names and addresses.  Dr. Strang has been clear about this since March.  We do not want that in Nova Scotia. Please contact the police and let them do their jobs.

Get a flu shot!
We don’t want to have people with the regular flu overwhelming the COVID testing system, so help us all avoid that.  Flu symptoms are often the same as COVID symptoms.  A flu shot reduces your chance of getting the flu and is free to all.  https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/local/get-immunized-nova-scotia-public-health-officials-urge-491409/

Isolation makes us all awkward
I found this article frankly relieving, that it is not just me!  “Research on prisoners, hermits, soldiers, astronauts, polar explorers, and others who have spent extended periods in isolation indicates social skills are like muscles that atrophy from lack of use. People separated from society — by circumstance or by choice — report feeling more socially anxious, impulsive, awkward, and intolerant when they return to normal life. Psychologists and neuroscientists say something similar is happening to all of us now, thanks to the pandemic. We are subtly but inexorably losing our facility and agility in social situations — whether we are aware of it or not.” Full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/01/sunday-review/coronavirus-socially-awkward.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Get Prepared -Hurricane Season
The Government of Canada was reminding folks on twitter that hurricane season is here, and we need to be prepared, now more than ever.  No one wants to be caught out during a pandemic during a major weather event.  Have a look at this website and make sure you have taken reasonable steps to be prepared for a major storm – https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-en.aspx

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

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Council Reports and Agendas
Halifax 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