Third Wave Arrives, Coronavirus Update #44, more

This update was posted on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. The situation is evolving rapidly. Please check the CanadaNova Scotia, and Halifax websites for the most up-to-date information.

You can also check out my COVID-19 resources, with information on current Government ResponseIndividuals & FamiliesBusiness as well as Links to Resources including key social media to follow.


In This Issue

My Council Update is focused on the third wave, the crane collapse report, speed bumps in school zones, and recommends reading Councillor Austin’s post about recent council and budget debate.

Public Meetings and Hearing includes a housing keeping public hearing scheduled for next few weeks.  Roadworks includes a number of projects.  Community Events is understandably emptry while Coronavirus Update #44 has a lot of info you may find useful at this difficult time.This issue closes with an update and info on how to reach out and get help on municipal issues.

Councillor Update

Like you, I’ve watched case counts go up day after day, sick with worry for my friends and neighbours.

This third wave is hitting us hard, but I’ve never been prouder of my community and all of our health and allied professionals.  Some things that stand out:

  • Our testing rate is when adjusted for population the highest in Canada
  • Travel dropped off rapidly with transit already 1/3 below where it was last week
  • The government moved quickly to ramp up restrictions and close schools

I am very hopeful this will reduce spread, but remember – we will not see the impacts of these changes for 7-14 days, so don’t expect case numbers to go down, at least for the next couple days.

Like you I was furious at the news of the party on Jubilee Road and the young men appearing to brag about their public health order tickets on social media. I live two blocks away from Jubilee, my high risk for COVID parents live here, my kids are here.  These insensitive, spoiled blockheads put me, my family and my neighbours at risk.  It is infuriating.

That said – please for the love of all that is good – don’t share their names, and pictures that identify them.  Don’t threaten them.  Don’t, really don’t.  I understand the impulse but we don’t want to see a bad situation become a worse one through vigilante action.

I wish the tickets had been higher, but the government has raised them now to $2000.00.  You cannot change punishments for crimes already committed.  I hope Dalhousie does apply their code of conduct to them if it does indeed apply, as they appear to be Dal students. I hope these arses learned some kind of lesson, but I fear they may not be capable of doing so.

Now more than ever it is important to listen to the directions of public health officials and not look for loopholes.
For this current lockdown to work, we need to break the chains of transmission, by keeping our contacts low and avoiding any trips outside of home and work that are non-essential.

The Coronavirus section of this email outlines information on how to access food boxes for those in need, mobility response, what the restrictions are (as of Monday April 26 pm) and an update on the Federal government’s covid response.

The provincial government is also looking for volunteers and people looking for paid work to support covid response efforts.  Details below – please consider this if you are able!

A lot of folks are finding this extremely stressful, and that is okay!  After 14 months of the pandemic, we are all feeling a lot less resilient. Please reach out for mental health supports if you need them:

  • The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)
  • Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)
  • For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

As always, please help your neighbours (while masked and physically distant), lend a hand, be kind, and be patient.

While all this COVID response was wrapping up the much-awaited crane collapse report was released by the Provincial government.
It reads in part:
“The investigation determined that the crane collapsed as a result of a weld failure that was not visible in the lower mast section of the tower. When subjected to high winds during the post tropical storm, it caused the crane to collapse. A more detailed explanation can be found in the report.

The investigation also determined that the tower crane owner and operator met the provincial and Canadian safety standards, along with all provincial legislative and regulatory requirements to prevent the event from occurring.”

More here – https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20210422004

After a review of the speed data, volume data, and other features of the roadway, local streets around Halifax Central Junior High and Le Marchant St Thomas School have been selected for traffic calming.

Speed humps were selected as the appropriate traffic calming measures for the streets highlighted on the attached maps. Speed humps encourage slower speeds of travel by causing discomfort for drivers traveling at higher speeds. There is no negative effect on cyclists riding at moderate speeds, and there is no effect on resident access or on-street parking. With the construction of speed humps, you can expect slower vehicular speeds.

For more information regarding traffic calming in HRM, please visit the website:
https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-sidewalks/road-safety/traffic-calming-safer-streets

This work is planned for the 2021 construction season. Properties adjacent to the work will receive a letter with details about construction impacts and HRM staff contacts. Note – this is a separate school-based project, different from traffic calming going in on Oakland and Cornwall this year.

Finally I wish I had the energy to do these fulsome and detailed blogs about council and the budget – but I think I will start sharing Sam Austin’s as they really do sum it up nicely, for those that are looking for more detail: https://samaustin.ca/council-update-parking-student-bus-passes-budget-2021/

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:

  • May 4, 10 am
  • May 18, 10 am

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

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.

  • May 11, 6 pm

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:

  • May 17, 4 pm

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
  • NEW ARGYLE ST from PRINCE ST to BLOWERS ST, starting on 2021-04-15
  • NEW SOUTH ST from ROCKCLIFFE ST to OXFORD ST, starting on 2021-04-19
  • NEW CORNWALLIS ST from NORTH PARK ST to BAUER ST, starting on 2021-04-20
  • NEW BIRMINGHAM ST from SPRING GARDEN RD to CLYDE ST, starting on 2021-05-03

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

Other Major Projects:

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. Contact the CN Public Inquiry Line at 1-888-888-5909 or at contact@cn.ca if you have any questions.

NEW Cathedral Lane, University Avenue & South Park Street Sewer Separation Project – May to early December 2021.  Halifax Water will be undertaking a project to upgrade infrastructure on South Park Street, University Avenue and Cathedral Lane. The project will include the installation of a new separate storm sewer and sections of water main. This work was planned for 2020, but delayed to 2021 so both phases of the project could be completed all at once.  In order to complete this work as quickly as possible, limiting the length of the disruption, work will take place simultaneously on Cathedral Lane and South Park Street. More info and contacts here: http://halifaxwater.ca/project/cathedral-ln-south-park-st-sewer-separation

Community Events

At this time folks are still trying to pivot (back) to online events, and no face-to-face events are allowed. Please email me any upcoming events you’d like to see listed.

Coronavirus Update #44 – third wave is here, lockdown resources, more

Food Box program
In light of the new restrictions regarding school closures for Nova Scotia: if you are in need of food at this time, please call 211 Monday to Friday between 8am-8pm to speak with one of our navigators to do your intake for the Food Box program by Feed Nova Scotia.

Volunteer and Paid Positions Available NOW
We have immediate employment and volunteer opportunities to support #COVID19 activities across the province. For unpaid volunteer opportunities fill out the application at: https://cdhaforms.nshealth.ca/volunteerApplication.aspx… For employment opportunities visit: https://jobs.nshealth.ca/nsha/

Mobility Response Plan
Our Mobility Response Plan returns for 2021. Based on the lessons learned from 2020 and on direction from Regional Council, this year we’re focusing on improved Slow Streets and increased Space to Support Business. Learn more: http://halifax.ca/mobilityresponse

The Chamber of Commerce created this simple list of current HRM restrictions (remember to check the provincial website for the very latest updates):

In the 30 minutes since I posted this, the Premier and Dr Strang announced that the province is closed for 2 weeks.

New Restrictions For Entire Province
April 27, 2021 – 4:50 PM

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced today, April 27, new restrictions across the province to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This is not the time for half measures,” said Premier Rankin. “We need strong, quick action to drive this virus out of our province. If we took an incremental approach, we’d likely end up in the same place. We need to regain control over this virus.”

The new restrictions include closing most retail businesses, reducing gatherings to household bubbles and closing public and private schools across the province.

“We are in a race between the variant and the vaccine,” said Dr. Strang. “There is substantive risk of community spread across the province. We need to slow that spread until we are closer to population immunity through our vaccination program.”

The following restrictions are effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 28, and will remain in effect until at least May 12 details in link:
https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20210427003

  • the gathering limit is five, both indoors and outdoors
  • no social events, special events, festivals, arts/cultural events, sports events, faith gatherings, wedding receptions, or funeral visitation or receptions
  • wedding and funeral ceremonies hosted by a recognized business or organization can have five people, plus officiants
  • no meetings or training except mental health and addictions support groups, which can have 25 people with physical distancing and masks
  • no sports practices, training, games, competitions or tournaments
  • no arts and culture rehearsals or in-person performances
  • virtual gatherings and performances can be held with a maximum of five people in one location
  • restaurants and licensed establishments are closed to seated service
  • licensed and unlicensed establishments cannot host activities such as darts, cards, pool and bowling
  • retail businesses and malls can operate at 25 per cent capacity and must follow other public health measures
  • personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas are closed
  • unregulated health professions such as massage therapy and other complementary or alternative medicine providers are closed, with the exception of continuing care workers, home-care workers, ocularists and podiatrists
  • indoor fitness facilities like gyms and yoga studios and sport and recreation facilities like pools, arenas, tennis courts and large multipurpose recreation facilities are closed
  • outdoor fitness and recreation businesses can operate with 25 people and physical distancing
  • businesses and organizations offering a wide variety of indoor recreation activities are closed, such as indoor play areas, arcades, climbing facilities, dance classes and music lessons
  • museums, libraries and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia are closed, but libraries can offer pick-up and drop-off of books and other materials Nova Scotia Art Gallery are closed, but libraries can offer pick-up and drop-off of books and other materials
  • in private indoor workplaces such as offices or warehouses, masks are mandatory effective April 23 in all common areas, places where there is interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation, and areas where distance cannot be maintained

You can read the full list of restrictions here.

Restaurants may be closed for dine-in, but we can still support them from the comfort of our homes! Check out the Chamber’s Member Directory for a list of restaurants offering takeout in HRM.

Federal Budget 2021/22 [April 19, 2021] – Government of Canada

The 2021/22 Federal Budget was introduced on Monday, which sets out a suite of proposed COVID-19 response measures. These include extending some existing measures, as well as the introduction of new programing. Below are some of the highlights.
o   The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support will be extended until September 25, 2021. The subsidy rate under each will be reduced gradually starting in July 4, 2021 as the programs are phased-out.

o   The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will remain in place through to September 25, 2021, with the eligibility period extended by an additional 12 weeks. The benefit rate will gradually be reduced over this period, from $500 per week to $300 after July 17, 2021. Eligibility under the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will also be extended for an additional 4 weeks, to a maximum of 42 weeks.

  • The Budget proposes $595 million for 2021/22 to create the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP), which will seek to help businesses hire staff as the economy reopens. The program will provide qualifying employers with up to $1,129 per week for employees hired between June 6, 2021 and November 20, 2021. CRHP can be used for both new workers and rehiring laid-off staff.

o   $3 billion is proposed to extend the maximum period for EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 26 weeks. This extension would come into effect in summer 2022.

o   The government will extend the moratorium on interest for Canada student and apprentice loans to March 31, 2023, at a budgeted cost of $392.7 million in 2022-23.

o   $400 million is proposed in 2021-22 to create a temporary Community Services Recovery Fund to help charities and non-profits adapt to the pandemic and modernize to better support Canada’s economic recovery.

o   $140 million is proposed for 2021-22 as a top up to the Emergency Food Security Fund and Local Food Infrastructure Fund, which seeks to strengthen community food security and provide nutritious food to vulnerable Canadians.

o   The Budget proposes over $1 billion over three years for targeted supports to assist with recovery in the tourism sector starting in 2021-22. This includes:
o   $200 million through Canadian Heritage and the regional development agencies to support major festivals and events.
o   $500 million to establish a Tourism Relief Fund which will support investments by local tourism businesses in adapting their products and services to public health measures and other investments that will help them recover from the pandemic.
o   $300 million over two years to Canadian Heritage to establish a Recovery Fund for Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Sport Sectors.
o   $15 million to Canadian Heritage for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund to help arts and heritage institutions upgrade their facilities to meet public health guidelines.

o   The Budget proposes $500 million over two years starting in 2021 to create the Canada Community Revitalization Fund. Administered by the regional development agencies, the new fund will support community infrastructure projects that revitalize common gathering spaces which have laid dormant as a result of COVID-19, such as farmers’ markets.

o   The Budget outlines the government’s plan to invest $2.5 billion in new funding, as well as a reallocation of $1.3 billion in existing funding, to speed up the construction, repair, or support of 35,000 affordable housing units. Among other measures, this funding includes an additional $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to fund a minimum of 4,500 new affordable units.

o   To help address homelessness, Budget 2021/22 proposes an additional $567 million over two years for the Reaching Home Initiative. The Budget also proposes $45 million over two years for a pilot program aimed at reducing veterans experiencing homelessness through the provision of rent supplements, and wrap-around services.

2021/22 Budget Documents: https://www.budget.gc.ca/2021/home-accueil-en.html

Tourism Sector Financing Assistance Program [Update – April 19, 2021] – Province of Nova Scotia
The province has announced three large NS tourism operators that will be eligible to access lower-cost financing through the Tourism Sector Financing Assistance Program. Initially announced in October 2020, the program provides a standby letter of credit that operators can use to secure loans, with the province guaranteeing up to 95 per cent of the amount borrowed. The tourism operators selected represent ‘anchors’ for the NS tourism sector, and include:
o   Ambassatours Gray Line and Murphy’s on the Water;
o   Cabot Links; and
o   Coach Atlantic.
Together, up to $35 million in borrowing has been approved for these operators through their financial institutions. 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