Election, Morris Street, Parking, new council, more

It is a great honour to have been re-elected as your Councillor for District 7.  I am really excited to get to work with Councillors both old and new!

I know this is old news now, but think how far we have come in eight short years. Turnout in this election was up to 40%. Council now has gender parity, two African Nova Scotian members, and five members who defeated incumbents (me, Shawn, Lisa, Iona, and Cathy).

This last point suggests to me the power of incumbency, while still significant, is less and less a decisive factor. The public has expectations, and if they are not met, it is becoming more and more likely that voters may choose a new representative. All of this is really good for Halifax and our democracy.

On a personal level, it was humbling after all the votes were counted to see I had received the highest number of votes garnered by any candidate in this area since amalgamation. It was also the highest percentage of votes (62%!) cast for a councillor in this area since the 2000 election.

Thank you for this strong endorsement and validation of my work for these last eight years, and a strong mandate for the next four.

After taking a week off to recover and do post-election paperwork and clean up, I’m back at City Hall today.  I’ve already reached out to my colleagues new and old to talk about how we can move the municipality forward and become a more empowered, green and connected community.

The night before the election a press release was sent out by a community group that contained inaccurate and incomplete information about the plans for the trees on Morris Street.

So for what it is worth – This was an internal document shared with a community liaison committee, which is a group of citizens from the area and others with an interest in bike lanes who help advise staff and which is part of the public engagement process. The committee is asked to comment on all the wide-ranging options, from absurd (widen the road cut down all the tree) to looking for alternatives (put it on South Street who cares about the giant hill!).

Any decision on any bike lane is over 1.5 years away. This is the start of “what are the options?” One of the four conceptual options on Morris Street would require the removal of approximately 30 of the existing 48 trees. This would be the most severe impact on trees of all the options and some of the options would have minimal to no impacts on trees.  I would not support this if it ever made it to Council as a recommendation, which I frankly really doubt it will.

No decisions have been made. The feedback from the committee would shape what would go to the public at the next public engagement in late 2020 early 2021.  The public will have ample opportunity to have input into this project.

As I said during the election, I support the Regional Centre AAA bike lane plan. I support an east/west bike lane in this area. Bike facilities connecting the Dalhousie campuses and the hospital sites have been a critical piece of this plan. Connecting the Halifax Urban Greenway, Windsor/Vernon Seymour, South Park, Hollis/Lower Water, and a future Robie or Summer facility (all of which run north/south) with an east/west connector is a vital step in building a network.

I’ve also been clear for years that any plan for Morris needs to be able to accommodate drop-off for the daycare, elementary school and seniors centre (including Accessabus) while also looking around Schmidtville and ensuring adequate permit parking is available for all residents without parking on their property.

This is why the various designs are being studied, to find the least impactful best-optimized approaches for public comment. I look forward to the next stage of public engagement.

Related to parking in Schmittville is another hot issue this summer – the changes resulting from the new parking pay stations. I am in full support of the new pay station program, the goal is to increase the turnover of paid parking to better support commercial areas.

The next phase of parking modernization is to introduce new parking permits for students and workers for non-paid residential streets.  I do not have the details on this, but I am told the report will come in November, so this next piece should address concerns we’ve heard from hospital workers and others that have experienced difficulty from this change.

When complete, the parking modernization should make paid parking easier to use, better able to support small businesses, and the time regulated parking should be better able to be used by both residents and workers through new parking pass programs.

Finally, I wanted to let you know we’ll all be very busy the next six-eight weeks as Regional Council effectively “stands up” the new government and moves straight into the budget process for 2021/22. 

Council will be sworn in October 29. Council orientation will take place from November 4 to November 13, where the new councillors will get a huge amount of information, presentations, and opportunities to questions staff. I know the phrase “drinking from a firehose” is overused but it truly felt that way for me. Current councillors often attend orientation both to refresh their knowledge and to get to know their new colleagues.

Council meets November 10.  With an election, all the agency, board and committee memberships end and have to be reappointed.  Once standing committees are appointed, they, in turn, appointed to advisory committees. A new Deputy Mayor is chosen.

By late November we are going to be into what could be the most difficult budget since HRM was created, the first budget where COVID impacted assessments.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but I look forward to getting to it with the Mayor and our new Council.

Public Meetings

Halifax Regional Council – Swearing-In
Thursday October 29, 6pm | Halifax Convention Centre

This meeting will be webcast on https://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

Halifax Regional Council 
Tuesday November 10, 10am | Virtual Meeting
This meeting will be webcast on https://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

Community Events & Notices

A Seat At The Table: Volunteering on municipal boards and committees

Volunteering on municipal boards and committees is important—are you interested? Apply online to serve on a board or committee in 5 easy steps [PDF].

The Municipal Clerk’s Office is currently recruiting for board or committee volunteers.   All opportunities are posted to the bottom of this page.  Deadline for applications is November 9, 2020, by 11:59 p.m.

Questions?   Contact the Municipal Clerk’s Office at  serve@halifax.ca or 902-490-4210.

Interested in serving as a volunteer on a Halifax Regional Municipality board, committee or commission? Read what current volunteers have to say about their experience.

Read more here: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/boards-committees-commissions/volunteer-boards-committees

Roadworks Update

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
•    COBURG RD from SEYMOUR to VERNON starting on 2020-10-10
•    QUINPOOL ROAD between MONESTARY and VERNON starting on 10-19
•    NEWTON AVE from QUINPOOL RD to FIRST ST, starting on 2020-10-24

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

Remembrance Day
November 11, 11am | Various Locations

Due to COVID-19 all Remembrance Day services have been either scaled back or cancelled. Residents are asked to stay home and share in the services via TV or online. I am not yet sure if I will be on the small list of people laying a wreath at the Sailor’s Memorial in Point Pleasant Park, but will find out this week.  More on this here: https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/covid-19-forcing-some-changes-to-remembrance-day-ceremonies-1.5135624

Urban Design Award Nominations Sought
Deadline December 31, 2020

The Halifax Regional Municipality is calling for submissions to the municipal Urban Design Awards, which celebrates urban design excellence in the region, including excellence in urban development, heritage protection, architecture, civic improvement projects, community initiatives, and student projects completed after January 1, 2013. Due to the current public health restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings, the awards program has been revised to continue in a virtual format in 2021.

Nominations are being accepted beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 6 for applications or projects in the following categories, each with different eligibility requirements for award selection:

  • Urban Design Plans
  • Urban Architecture
  • Civic Design Projects
  • Urban Elements
  • Community Connections & Initiatives
  • Heritage Restoration Projects
  • Heritage Adaptive Re-use Projects
  • Student Projects

A virtual awards ceremony will take place in 2021 based on an independent jury process.  Local award winners are also encouraged to apply to the National Urban Design Award program. The application deadline is Dec. 31, 2020. For more information or to submit an application, please visit the website or contact urbandesign@halifax.ca

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