Thank you, residential rental rule changes proposed, short term rental regulations proposed, Centre Plan, voting info, more

I’d like to thank everyone for taking precautions this week when it looked like Teddy was going to wallop Nova Scotia.

I’m the son of a sailor and grew up next to the ocean, so I know the forecasts are just that, and the ocean and these storms can be highly unpredictable.  We were lucky this time, like we were with Hortense, but we’ve also been unlucky, like with Juan and Dorian. It is always better in my opinion to err on the side of caution.

In other disaster adjacent news – I have no Coronavirus update this email, the first time since March.  That said the PM described Canada as entering the second wave, and the numbers in the rest of the country are bad, so please wash your hands, wear your mask, and be careful out there, we are not out of the woods yet.

I wanted to share three things with you – new rental standards are being proposed, AirBNB controls are being proposed, and Centre Plan engagement has been extended and I want to hear your input.  Additional, election registration information and some other meetings and roadwork are listed below.

Improvements to Minium Standards focused on residential rental

The proposed changes to M-200 is a big piece of the changes I’ve been working toward the last couple years, and is coming to Council Tuesday – it includes:

  • Amendments to the existing By-law M-200 – intended to improve the focus areas and support the introduction of the residential rental registry
  • Creation of a Residential Rental Registration By-law – The Registration By-law is estimated for presentation to Council in April 2021. The changes covered in this report are not dependent on the activation of a Registry
  • Development of an educational package – requirement by the landlord to distribute a copy of the M-200 By-law and the existing M-200 information card to all tenants. The remainder of the educational package (such as brochures, handouts, signage, web links etc.) is expected to be complete by mid-2021
  • Public release of By-law M-200 violations on HRM’s Open Data site – The program for release of By-law violations is complete and went live in early September. The violations do not include historical data and rely on recent and ongoing by-law investigations.

New requirements for all Residential Rentals:

  • Life Safety Provisions, Guards, Sleeping Rooms and Kitchens
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
  • Electrical (prevent both the tenant and owner from disconnecting electrical
  • power in rental units)
  • Laundry Rooms – maintenance, fire sepration
  • Garbage – “The owner shall provide receptacles, as required by By-law S-600, the Solid Waste Resource Collection and Disposal By-law, to ensure containment of collectible waste to prevent the escape of waste materials into the environment.”
  • Parking – limit front yard vehicle access and parking to the designated parking areas as required by the applicable land-use by-law.
  • Noise – Upon a tenant’s conviction of an offence under By-law N-200, the Noise By-law, and by Notice of the Inspector, the owner shall develop a written mitigation plan with the tenant in a format prescribed by the Inspector.
  • Maintenance Provisions – Added a system of regular inspection and maintenance for appliances throughout the rental that may present a fire risk.

Penalties per incident

  • 1st Offence $100-$10,000 or 2 months imprisonment
  • 2nd Offence $150-$10,000 or 2 months imprisonment
  • 3rd Offence $450-$10,000 or 2 months imprisonment

More info here: https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/200929rc1113.pdf

Short Term Rentals or STRs know to the rest of us as AirBNB. The proposed bylaw will be debated Tuesday. Many residents have complained about “party houses” and other issues with short term rentals in non-owner occupied homes in residential zones. HRM is proposing to:

  • Require all STRs to register with the Municipality
  • Continue to allow hotels and other forms of commercial overnight accommodations in commercial and mixed-use zones
  • Within residential zones, only permit STRs in primary residences
  • Within selected rural areas, consider allowing STRs of cottages and investment properties

More info here: https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/200922rc11120b.pdf

Centre Plan Package  B is now delayed until September 2021 due to COVID.  With the adoption of Centre Plan Package A in 2019 the question of where development is allowed to happen and what kind is allowed has by and large been decided for the regional centre.  This provides much-needed protection and certainty for our established residential neighbourhoods.  Centre Plan Package B deals with Established Residential, Parks/Institutional, and Industrial zoning.  What that means is the R1 and R2 designations are being reviewed and your input is important!

A plan for additional public consultation while respecting public health guidance was presented this week.  I’ll be setting up neighborhood meetings after the election to meet in small groups, outdoors, with staff, and take questions, comments and concerns.  Info will be available shortly so people can see what is changing, and what is not changing, at http://centreplan.ca

Public Meetings

Community Planning Economic Development Standing Committee
Monday, September 28, 2020, 1 pm | Halifax City Hall

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/standing-committees/september-28-2020-community-planning-economic-development-standing

Halifax Regional Council
Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 10 am and Wednesday Sept 30 as needed | Virtual Meeting

https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/regional-council/september-29-2020-halifax-regional-council-special-meeting

Municipal Election October 6-17 2020

VOTER REGISTRATION

Voting letters should start arriving at registered voters homes today. The last chance to register and be mailed a voter letter is October 5, 2020.  Voter Letters contain your electronic voting login information.  After that, voter letters will be sent by a secure email to the individual.

Call 902-490-VOTE (8683) to confirm their information on the voters’ list and make any necessary changes.  For more information visit https://halifax.ca/election

VOTING INFORMATION

Tuesday, Oct. 6 to Wednesday, Oct. 14
Advanced Electronic Voting (online or by telephone)
Note: There is no electronic voting after this time.

Saturday, Oct. 10 and Tuesday, Oct. 13
12 to 8 p.m. – Advanced Polls (in person)
Citadel Community Centre 1955 Trollope St

Saturday, Oct. 17
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. – Election Day (in person)
Three locations, please confirm which one on your voter letter or online at halifax.ca/election
Citadel Community Centre 1955 Trollope St, St Mary’s Boat Club 1641 Fairfield Rd. The Westin Nova Scotia 1181 Hollis St

For more information about voting, contact Halifax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) election office:
902-490-VOTE (8683) or 1-888-820-VOTE (8683) or visit https://halifax.ca/election

Community Events

Roadworks Update

The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that road construction will begin on Friday, Sept. 25 and continue until the end of November at the intersection of Coburg Road at the intersection of Seymour and Vernon streets. Work will include intersection improvements to facilitate the implementation of local street bikeways.

Crews will be on site from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Lane drops will be in place while work is underway. Motorists should expect delays and are asked to use alternative routes whenever possible.

Your patience is appreciated while this work is completed.

The following street closures or sidewalk disruptions have recently been added to the RoadWorks map in or near District 7:

•    BEECH ST from CHEBUCTO RD to OAK ST, starting on 2020-09-14
•    CUNARD ST from GOTTINGEN ST to CREIGHTON ST, starting on 2020-09-23
•    CEDAR ST from PRESTON ST to CHESTNUT ST, starting on 2020-09-16
•    DRESDEN ROW from SPRING GARDEN RD to CLYDE ST, starting on 2020-09-23
•    SALTER ST from GRANVILLE ST to BARRINGTON ST, starting on 2020-09-25

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

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.

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