Green bin discussion, point pleasant park signs, spring rec programs, Coronavirus Update 43, more.

In This Issue

My Council Update asks your thoughts about Green Bin and Blue Bag schedules, off-leash dogs and new signs in Point Pleasant Park, and pedestrian safety.  Updates on arena capacity and summer rec registration follow.

Public Meetings and Hearing includes a housing keeping public hearing scheduled for next week.  Roadworks include two updates. Still light on Community Events and Coronavirus Update #43 outlines the slow reopening and current government programsThis issue closes with an update and info on how to reach out and get help on municipal issues.

Councillor Update

In 2020, as part of many COVID cuts, HRM stopped offering weekly green cart pickup. I did hear from some folks who were upset about that decision, but it was nowhere near as controversial as many of us on Council thought it would be.

Transportation & Public Works noted the same, receiving much less feedback than expected. Councillors got the sense that, for most people, ditching weekly pickup might have been a bit of a nuisance, but it was generally not a big deal. Those who did find it problematic though, really didn’t like the change. We also received feedback from some folks who suggested we should have cut the weekly blue bag recycling instead since recycling is typically more easily stored.

I supported Councillor Mancini moving bi-weekly green bin and blue bag recycling to the budget adjustment list for discussion. Council has not decided either way, yet!  If Council votes to move both to every other week, it would free up $1.7 million for use on other programs, like traffic calming or pedestrian safety.

I would love to hear from you about what you think about bi-weekly pick up for green cart, blue bag or both.  Council will decide sometime late in April.

You will soon see new signs in Point Pleasant Park and other parks, including a new “Do Not Feed the Wildlife” sign. Folks are asked to not feed birds or other animals, but especially in the off-leash areas where dogs are eating the seed/corn which can cause digestive issues for the animals

You will also see signs making it clear that Sailor’s Memorial Way and the entire park area on both sides of the road correction no dogs after 10am.  Some dog owners have interpreted the current signs liberally, that dogs not on the road, closer to the beach, could be off-leash.  The new signs will make it clear the whole area is no dogs after 10am.

The yellow/beige area below is no dogs after 10am.

The tragic death of Dr. David Gass a few weeks ago, hit while legally crossing a street in a crosswalk with a green light, has once again underlined how important it is that HRM accelerate it’s work to make our streets safer for all people.

Halifax’s budget proposes to do more rapid flashing beacons, leading pedestrian intervals (walk signals before green lights for car), and a number of other measures in the coming year than we’ve seen the last three years. It’s a good start, but it’s still not enough.

Examples of work happening this year include higher-risk crosswalks on Jubilee that are already scheduled for rapid flashing beacon crossing lights (same as the one that went in on Jubilee/Preston last year).  Oakland Road and Cornwall are getting speed humps as a part of traffic calming and repaving.  By the end of the summer pedestrian pushbuttons will not need to be pressed to get a pedestrian crossing signal before midnight, anywhere in District 7.  The 10 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians are all targeted for significant work this year and next.

Staff estimate that all paving and road renewal projects are costing 20-25% more than five years ago due to including a complete street lens on all projects – making streets safer for all users as streets come up for paving.  The issue is HRM has $3.5 billion in streets and sidewalks, and even with the focus and budget change is coming slowly.

Councillor Cleary moved that Council increase traffic calming budgets by another million dollars, which I support.  This funding would see pretty much every eligible street with a school on it get traffic calming of some sort in 2021.

I will be asking for a report regarding implementing more left turn controls on busy streets.  This would mean cars could only turn left if they had a left-turn arrow, and in some cases, right if they had a right turn arrow.  This allows the signals to make sure pedestrians and cars are not in conflict.  I hope to get the report back this year.

We are all focused on finding ways to make our streets safer, and I believe we will continue to see significant progress in the next three to four years.

UPDATE TO FACILITY BOOKINGS AND RECREATION PROGRAMMING
The Halifax Regional Municipality continues to monitor and respond to the rapidly evolving impacts of COVID19. The following is an update on municipal services. As directed by the province, new public health guidelines took effect in the Halifax Regional Municipality as of  Friday, March 5.  Spectators will be permitted at municipally owned facilities. The following arenas will be increasing their spectator capacity as follows:

  • BMO Centre: Pads A, B and C (50), Pad D (100)
  • Centennial Arena (50)
  • Cole Harbour Place: Scotia 1 (85), Scotia 2 (35)
  • Eastern Shore Arena (60)
  • Halifax Civic Arena (75)
  • Halifax Forum Arena (100)
  • LeBrun Arena (50)
  • RBC Centre: Pads A, B and D (50), Pad C (100)
  • Sackville Sports Stadium (50)
  • Spryfield Arena (50)
  • St. Margaret’s Centre: Fountain (100), Smith (50)
  • Zatzman Sportsplex (100)

Although provincial restrictions will allow for up to 100 spectators, not every venue can safely accommodate those numbers at this time. Staffing, configuration, and size of the venue must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Safety remains our top priority. Rental groups will continue to be responsible for COVID19 screening and tracking of all spectators. No food or drink is permitted, and masks must be worn at all times.

SPRING REGISTRATION FOR RECREATION  PROGRAMMING
The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that summer recreation programs have once again been planned in accordance with public health guidelines. Currently, Public Health is allowing for multiple cohorts of 15 children in day camps, and camp activities can be provided in both an indoor and outdoor setting while maintaining physical distancing protocols. Both full-day and half-day camps are planned to be offered for this summer. If there are changes to COVID-19 guidelines, staff will work with Public Health to assess and adjust programs as needed to balance the safety of all participants and staff.

Registration is currently scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. each of the following days for all ages:

Day camps and dryland programs

  • Wednesday, May 5 – July programs
  • Wednesday, June 2 – August programs

Indoor/outdoor pool and beach programs

  • Thursday, June 3 – July programs
  • Wednesday, July 14 – August programs

Detailed information on registration and programs will be viewable online as of Thursday, April 22 on http://halifax.ca/myREC

Participants are encouraged to register by phone at (902)-490-6666, online or in-person at their local recreation centre. If registering for programs at municipal partner recreation facilities, please contact those facilities directly.

Residents are reminded they may continue to use REC at Home which offers a variety of activities that you can enjoy with your family – from arts and crafts to at-home fitness workouts.

For more information on recreation programming, visit http://halifax.ca/myREC

Public Meetings & Hearings

Halifax Regional Council – virtual meetings
If you want to read reports coming to Regional Council (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda. Upcoming meetings:

  • April 22, 10:00am
  • May 4, 10:00am

Agendas here: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=127

Budget Committee – virtual meetings
All members of Council are members of the Budget Committee, which meets Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays if needed, starting in October and concluding sometime in April.  The public may register to speak to the Budget Committee regarding any budget issue.  Upcoming meetings:

  • April 21, 9:30am – Finalize budget.
  • April 22, 9:30am (if needed)
  • May 5, 9:30am (if needed)

Budget Committee agendas here –  https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=1181

Halifax & West Community Council – virtual meetings
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.

  • April 27, 6pm
  • May 11, 6pm

Public hearings are published 2-3 weeks before they take place and a list of upcoming hearings can be found here: https://www.halifax.ca/business/planning-development/public-hearings

  • VIRTUAL PUBLIC HEARING – Case 23274 – Housekeeping Amendments for Secondary Suites & Backyard Suites. This public hearing will address proposed housekeeping amendments to Land Use By-laws for Halifax Mainland. A virtual joint public hearing will be held on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 beginning at 6:00 p.m. It will be webcast and may be viewed online. Find out how to participate in the virtual meeting.

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

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Council
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. Upcoming meetings:

  • April 26, 4pm

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

Information about how to watch or participate in virtual meetings can be found on the agenda pages. Please confirm meeting dates and times on our website as dates and times are subject to change.

Roadworks Update

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

  • HENRY ST from COBURG RD to UNIVERSITY AVE, starting on 2021-03-24
  • FENWICK ST from QUEEN ST to LUCKNOW ST, starting on 2021-03-23
  • SEYMOUR ST from UNIVERSITY AVE to COBURG RD, starting on 2021-03-02

You can find out road closure details on the HRM Roadworks map:
https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-sidewalks/RoadWorks
Additionally, residents should be aware of the South Street Bridge Rehabilitation Proposed Project. Canadian National Railway (CN) and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are proceeding with bridge and roadway rehabilitation work on the arch bridge structure at South Street in 2021. The work will involve a major rehabilitation of the structure and reinstatement of the roadway. A detour route comprised of Beaufort Avenue, Oakland Road, and Rockcliffe Street will provide access to the South Street neighbourhood during construction.

Work is expected to begin on site in April 2021. All efforts will be taken to reduce the impact to your property during construction. Parking access will be impacted during construction in order to complete the work. contact the CN Public Inquiry Line at 1-888-888-5909 or at contact@cn.ca if you have any questions.

Community Events

Spencer House is Now Open
Ongoing | Spencer House Seniors’ Centre 5596 Morris Street, Halifax NS  B3J 1C2
Spencer House is excited to announce that we have been open our regular hours since Monday, February 8th. Their hours are from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. As there will be limited lunch seating, please call ahead to reserve a seat or drop in. More here: https://spencerhouse.ca/

Every One Every Day Closing
Wednesday April 14. 2021, 3pm | Online event
Join us to look back on all the wonderful sessions and thank everyone involved. There will be a reveal of the community art creation and a celebration of the amazing North End Community
https://www.facebook.com/events/862847657892605/

ACORN-NS Halifax-Peninsula Chapter Meeting
Thursday April 29 2021, 6pm | Online event
Join us for our Halifax-Peninsula chapter meeting!
We’re getting organized for the next steps in our rent control and landlord licensing campaigns, as well as the minimum wage and raising assistance rates!  Questions? Email halifax@acorncanada.org Join at https://bit.ly/NSACORN

Coronavirus Update #43 – reopening offices, ongoing programs

While I am very concerned about the variants spreading outside of the bubble, I am feeling very confident as vaccination rates increase and contact tracing and containment continue to be effective.

We need to remain vigilant – I got an asymptomatic test a few days ago, and we need to make this a part of our routine.  Keep washing hands, distancing, and wearing masks.  That said, I’m back to mostly working out of City Hall during the day and I feel comfortable doing so, as these precautions will keep us safe.

Please, consider scheduling a test today! http://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirustesting

As the situation around COVID-19 in our province continues to evolve with the encouraging news surrounding Nova Scotia’s enhanced vaccination efforts, HRM employees are starting to return to the office, phased in with a few days a week in May, coming to full time by September.

As always safety remains Halifax’s top priority, and any changes to workplace planning and the return to work approach will be made in strict alignment with public health guidelines.

We must remain diligent in our fight against COVID-19.  To learn more about Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 immunization plan, visit: http://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/vaccine/

Canada Community-Building Fund (Federal Gas Tax Fund) [Update – March 25, 2021] – Government of Canada
The government has introduced Bill C-25 which will provide $7.2 billion in new financial support to provinces, municipalities, and First Nations communities across Canada to fight COVID-19 and support recovery. Included is an investment of $2.2 billion for municipalities to address short-term infrastructure priorities. The funding will be allocated through the Federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF), roughly doubling the amount for 2021/22. HRM is anticipating approximately $26.2 million from the GTF for 2021/22 without taking the additional funding into account. Bill C-25 also proposes to rename the GTF to the Canada Community-Building Fund. Source.

Provincial Budget 2021/22 [March 25, 2021] – Province of Nova Scotia
The provincial budget was tabled this week. The budget forecasts a deficit of $584.9 million for 2021/22, which reflects increased spending in a number of areas to respond to the pandemic. Highlights include new spending on healthcare, long-term care, climate action, green infrastructure, and increases to income assistance. The budget also includes several targeted support programs for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector. A more detailed outline of budget highlights is available hereSource.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) [Update – March 22, 2021] – Government of Canada
The government has announced that the deadline for applications under the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be extended from March 31, 2021, to June 30, 2021.  The new deadline applies to any new applications for CEBA loans of $60,000 or to new applications from businesses that have already received the $40,000 loan and intend to apply for the additional $20,000. Source.

National Workplace Accessibility Stream (NWAS) [Update – March 23, 2021] – Government of Canada
$3 million in funding has been announced through the National Workplace Accessibility Stream (NWAS). The NWAS was created in 2020 to help respond to challenges created by COVID-19 for adapting workspaces for persons with disabilities. The $3 million in funding will be delivered through the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work and its Accommodation and Inclusion Management (AIM) program. The AIM program provides employers with financial support and expert advice to set up workplace accommodations such as ergonomic equipment for home offices and individual needs assessments for employees. Source.

How can we help?

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/

Call my office
Call my office for assistance with your municipal issues. Please have your 311 reference number ready.  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

Reach out to me
I’m always available to help residents.  Email is always better than a phone call, as I am often in meetings and much of the time I cannot answer the phone. If Liam or 311 cannot assist you, please email me at waye.mason@halifax.ca or call 902.430.7822