Remembrance Day, Centre Plan consultation, Rapid Housing initiative & more

Hello all,

I wanted to let you know about Remembrance Day tomorrow in District 7.

The event at the Cenotaph in Grand Parade has been reduced to 50 people. The public is asked to stay home. The event at Sailors Memorial, which I normally attend, is canceled. I do not have an update on the Province House, RA Park or Camp Hill memorials, but as I said in my last newsletter the Legion has recommended that memorials be canceled or limited this year due to COVID. For your safety and the safety of others, please stay home and watch the national memorial on your TV.

I think the news the last couple of days of new cases and new potential exposure has made all of us nervous.  

There is a long list of sites in Halifax and Dartmouth over the last week that folks are asked to be concerned about, and in some cases get tested regardless of how they may feel.  The several press releases can be found here: http://www.nshealth.ca/news

It is very important that we be vigilant and take all precautions – wear a mask, maintain 2m distance, wash our hands frequently, download the app.

If we make sure that we follow public health guidance, and reduce opportunities for exposure and spread, we can get this minor outbreak under control.

I shared the article “The Hammer and the Dance” with you a number of months ago. We are going to have outbreaks and we are going to have to put out these small fires, so all is not lost.

Visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:

  • fever or cough (new or worsening)

OR

  • two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • shortness of breath

You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.

Please remember:

  • To self-isolate until you receive 811 advice on next steps.
  • Do not go directly to a COVID-19 assessment centre without being directed to do so by 811.

I’ve had a number of emails concerned about HRM’s plan to buy up to 150 diesel buses. Rather than repeat his good work, I’ll link to Sam Austin’s blog from April regarding our plans to rapidly transition to EV bus.  He wrote in part:

“This isn’t a procurement issue. It’s not that some imagined short-sighted bureaucrat doesn’t want to pay the upfront cost of electric. The problem is, HRM doesn’t have the infrastructure in place at the transit garages to operate an electric fleet. We can buy the buses, the problem is we can’t run them.”

We have a plan to electrify the fleet, and it is not cheap, and we expect Provincial funding to be announced soon. I do not expect HRM to buy all 150 diesel buses.  You can read Sam’s blog here.

Last week there was an exciting announcement regarding the Federal Rapid Housing Initiative. 

The Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) provides funding to expedite the delivery of affordable housing units to vulnerable people and populations targeted under the National Housing Strategy (NHS), especially those affected by COVID-19.

Funding is available through two separate streams. For the first stream, RHI will expedite funds to municipalities with the highest need. For the second stream, an application portal will be open to governments, Indigenous governing bodies and organizations, and non-profit organizations where applications will be prioritized based on the strength of the application.

The critical piece is that the $8.7 million for HRM for this initiative targets rapid housing and delivery of units within 12 months.

Municipal staff has reached out to affordable housing providers to identify partners and establish projects that could benefit from this new funding initiative.

Final note – starting today the Lower Water Street Tactical Bikeway. This project will begin installation towards the end of this week, with line painting happening overnight, and bollards being installed within those lines the following day. Planters will also be included along the corridor, however, they will be installed under a separate contract in the coming weeks. These planters will be maintained year-round.

This project will provide an opportunity to test and evaluate a new street design and configuration that will ultimately help inform the functional design options under consideration. More info here: https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/regional-community-planning/transportation-planning/street-improvement-pilot-projects

Public Meetings & Engagement

Centre Plan graphic

Centre Plan Package B – Seeking Your Feedback on Established Residential Neighbourhoods – Virtual Public Meetings
The Centre Plan is a planning process for peninsular Halifax and Dartmouth within the boundaries of the Circumferential Highway that will help shape the future of development. As you may know the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Centre Plan Package B public engagement process and project timeline.

We are pleased to be able to provide additional feedback and community engagement opportunities with a focus on established residential neighborhoods.

The centreplan.ca website provides access to all draft planning documents, an interactive map, and fact sheets. New fact sheets were recently added to compare existing and proposed zoning rules in established residential areas.  All feedback will be summarized in a “What We Heard” report, provided to Council, and considered in revisions to the draft Plan and Land Use By-law.

Interested in planning issues in your neighbourhood? Join Centre Plan planning staff for one of three virtual public consultation meetings using Microsoft Teams Live Event:

  1. Monday, November 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
  2. Monday, November 23 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
  3. Thursday, November 26, 2020 from 12 noon – 1:30 p.m.

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Watch the live event online and participate through the online chat
  • Call into the meeting and listen via your phone.
  • Register to speak through the phone line by 3 p.m. the day before each meeting.

View the participation instructions here.  All three meetings will include the same presentation.

Small Group Meetings
Planning staff are also available for small virtual or in-person meetings with neighbourhood groups. To schedule a meeting in November or December, please e-mail planhrm@halifax.ca.  The latest gathering limits and social distancing measures will need to be followed.

Neighbourhood Walks
Walk ‘n Roll Halifax  invites residents, community leaders and local organizations to join guided tours throughout the Regional Centre to raise awareness about Centre Plan Package B and collect input from residents.

The focus of these 2020 walking tours (first series held in 2016) will be on low-density established residential neighbourhoods. Please take advantage of this opportunity to share information about your neighbourhood with your neighbours and the Centre Plan team. Participate to learn, first-hand, about the proposed changes and to provide your feedback & comments to the planners.

To ensure compliance with the Public Health orders, groups will be limited to 8 participants on each tour, plus a Walk ‘n Roll facilitator and a municipal planner. Registration is required; more info to follow on that.
The walks will be scheduled shortly; please check back in to see the schedule and select one that interests you.

You can also book a walk at a time and location to suit you, if you are part of a community group or club or organization and have 5-8 interested participants. Please contact Kat at kat.kitching@gmail.com to make a booking.

Correspondence 
You are also invited to continue to submit feedback via e-mail to planhrm@halifax.ca until December 15, 2020.   A “What We Heard” report will be released in early 2020.

Deadline Tax Relief for Non-Profit Organizations Program
November 30, 2020

The deadline to add a property (including those in the program) is November 30, 2020. This allows staff time to consider a budget request if the uptake is high in volume and/or value. Requests received after this date and before March 31, 2021, will only be considered if funds permit (if denied based on budget these cases may be deferred to the 2022 program).

Budget survey launches online
Online now to December 14, 2020

The Halifax Regional Municipality is inviting residents to help shape the next municipal business plan and budget by participating in a public survey available online from Thursday, Nov. 5 to Monday, Dec. 14. Thursday, Nov. 26.

For many, financial priorities have had to shift during COVID-19. The goal of this survey is to understand where you would like to see investments into municipal programs and services in the 2021/22 budget.
This survey is being conducted online. Input regarding spending priorities will inform decisions regarding municipal service levels when developing the next budget.

For more information and to take the survey, please visit halifax.ca/citizensurvey

Community Events & Information

Halifax Innovation District and Davis Pier Seek Fresh Ideas to Improve Food Security  
Community members and organizations interested in developing and testing new ideas to address food insecurity are invited to participate in the Food Security Innovation initiative.

This includes, but is not limited to, restaurants, farmers markets, schools, food banks, cultural centres, student groups, and community organizations. From November to February participants will work with the Halifax Innovation Outpost and Davis Pier to develop concepts and prototypes that can be tested with their communities. This is a free program intended for organizations who work at the local level and directly engage with people experiencing food insecurity

This is the first pilot project of the Halifax Innovation Outpost’s Social Innovation initiative – supported by Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax Partnership and the Province of Nova Scotia – which aims to address a key social challenge in alignment with the municipality’s poverty reduction strategy, as well as community plans and initiatives.

Individuals and organizations can learn more about, and express their interest to participate in, the program on Halifax Partnership’s website. Responses will be accepted until November 16.

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-counci

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