Regional Plan Review, Census, accessibility strategy, Coronavirus Update #45, more

In This Issue

This update was posted in the afternoon of May 21, 2020. The COVID-19 emergency response continues to 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.

My Council Update talks briefly about covid impacts, promotes the Regional Plan review engagement that just started, the recent Citizenship Awards, concern about Radon, HRM adopting and Accessibility Strategy, info about SPCA programs, and weekly green bin collection about to start.

Public Meetings and Hearing includes details about the Regional Plan review and upcoming council meetings.  Roadworks includes a number of new projects.  Community Events are includes info about the critically important Census underway now, the HPA sustainability survey, and curbside giveaway being delayed. Coronavirus Update #45 has more info you might find useful as the situation evolves. This issue ends with info on how to reach out and get help on municipal issues.

Councillor Update

It’s been a heck of a few weeks!  I know schools being virtual, lockdown being enforced, and all the restrictions are hard, I feel that myself every day.

I also continue to be so proud of my neighbours and community.  We are beating this virus. We are doing this with empathy and class.  We are weeks away from everyone 12+ having access to their first shot of vaccine. Some kind of normalcy is just over the horizon.  We can do this!

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

The COVID shutdown is impacting municipal service delivery.  While my colleagues across this municipality are giving their all, every department has staff with young kids at home, has had covid exposure isolations, has had people who were sick, or had family and friends impacted.  While the exact impact is not yet known and depends on how long the lockdown remains, residents and businesses should expect service delivery to be slow and interrupted at times.

Again… I am humbled by how hard HRM staff are working during this difficult time, from transit operators to firefighters to librarians to traffic engineers and everyone in between, but they are human too, and the current conditions are having an impact.

The Regional Plan review was launched this week.  This plan is what drives ALL other policies for change in HRM, and is one of the most important things this Council will do this term.  More information on the regional plan and how to get involved is outlined below.

Each year the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Citizenship Award is presented to outstanding Grade 9 students in our municipality. Each school has only one award recipient, and schools choose their award recipient based on leadership qualities, service in the school and community, and academic performance. Citizenship Award recipients receive a special plaque with the HRM crest, along with their name and the year engraved in it.

I was very pleased to take part in the 2021 Citizenship Awards that took place during the virtual May 18th session of Regional Council. This year, 38 students in total received this award of distinction. I extend my congratulations to each award recipient; your hard work and service to our community are so appreciated.

I would like to particularly highlight District 7’s own Laura Faloon as this year’s award recipient from Sacred Heart.  Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition!

Robert, a resident of HRM wanted to share his recent experience regarding the threat of Radon and its presence in our city. 

“We recently have had an experience with Radon Gas that I wanted to share with you. In 2015 I had read and filed a couple of newspaper articles on “Radon in Your Home”.  No one was talking about it and I knew of no one who had been tested.  So I never thought more about it.

Through a local volunteer Seniors Health Program called Atlantic Path, I volunteered for a Radon Test Program run by Health Canada.  It involved a 90-day home test period during which a small disk, provided by Health Canada, was set up in our basement.  We ran the test from 01 Jan to 29 Apr 2020.  (The test dates were extended by nearly a month due to the arrival of COVID!)  Health Canada provided the packaging and postage to return the device to them.  The information available from Health Canada is extremely good at the following sites.

We received the results in February 2021.  According to Health Canada, the recommended safe level is 0-200Bq/m3.  Their measurement system suggests that you should get mitigation within two years if the measurement is between levels 200-600 and you should get mitigation within 12 months if greater than 600.  We were 442 Bq/m3. “

More info here:
Radon: Testing your home – Canada.ca
Radon – Reduction Guide for Canadians – Canada.ca
Potential for Radon in Indoor Air (novascotia.ca)

Halifax is becoming a better place for people of all abilities. Council gave the Accessibility Strategy the green light during the May 18, 2021 Regional Council meeting.

This strategy will make Halifax a more accessible place to live, work and play. 31 key items are outlined in the strategy, which will be actioned over the next nine years, by 2030.
Accessibility is a broad term that impacts us all in some ways. It’s an issue that concerns Nova Scotians of all ages, from those with disabilities to parents traveling with their children in strollers to seniors in our communities.

The recommendations to create a more accessible HRM are varied, in order to consider each category of Nova Scotia’s Accessibility Act. The Accessibility Act recognizes accessibility as a human right and sets a goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030. Now that this strategy is in motion, we have the framework we need to achieve this important milestone.

We’ll be making accessibility improvements in several key areas outlined in the Accessibility Act: built environment, employment, public transportation and infrastructure, information and communication, along with goods and services.

You can learn more about the Accessibility Strategy’s highlights here (presentation shown to Regional Council on May 18, 2021 by HRM Diversity Manager, Tracey Jones-Grant), and read the full text of the plan here.

Proudly following open-admission and no-kill principles, the Nova Scotia SPCA is a registered charity that helps companion animals in need.  Every year, more than 16,000 pets are helped through animal rescue, progressive programs, and rehoming opportunities.

Our offices in Burnside (District 6) support the residents in the region with many services including:

  • Pet Pantry – Where families can turn when they’re in need of pet food and litter
  • SPCA Veterinary Hospital – For all families, with subsidized services for those in need.
  • Paws & Support – Emergency boarding for families in temporary emergency situations: leaving domestic violence, urgent hospitalization, and temporary homelessness.
  • Adoption – An opportunity to add your next family member to your home. Animals have all been fully vetted, microchipped and temp tested. The adoption fees cover less than 50% of the cost of care.
  • Animal Surrender Accepting animals into care regardless of their age or health.  We do not euthanize animals for space. Unexpected life situations happen and the SPCA strives to be approachable, non-judgemental and understanding in assisting families and stray animals.
  • P.U.P Program Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies is here for families who find their pet unexpectedly pregnant. The program will fix the female dog or cat for free, AND fully vet and find loving homes for the puppies or kittens.
  • TNR (Trap Neuter Return) – Feral cats, who live outside, are humanely trapped, spayed/neutered, ear-tipped and returned to their local colony or a barn home.

Finally, the weekly green cart collection of your organic waste is returning for July, August, and September. However, blue bag recyclable collection will occur once every two weeks. Both changes come into effect on July 2, 2021.

Sign up for weekly collection reminders, get a refresher on what goes where, check out recycling tips and much more, here. You can also download the free Halifax Recycles app on your Android or iOS device to have waste info at the palm of your hand. And don’t forget to follow Halifax Recycles on Facebook!

Public Meetings, Hearings & Engagement

Regional Plan Review Launches
The Halifax Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (Regional Plan) is a strategic document built on a common vision and principles for the municipality to achieve balanced and sustainable growth.

Public consultation will be done virtually to meet public health restrictions. However, the project team will also be identifying alternate ways of outreach and are available to meet with individuals or groups over the engagement period. If you wish to meet with us, please email us at regionalplan@halifax.ca

The shapeyourcityhalifax.ca website is the place where you can access content, materials, and supporting research for the Halifax Regional Municipal Planning Strategy Plan Review. Several engagement tools will be available on this page including pre-recorded webinars, surveys, interactive maps, Q&A pages, comment forums, and providing comments via email or phone.

You can also find out about the project process, including public engagement activities. We welcome your input and participation in the process. Through the Regional Plan Review we are focused on the following ideas: https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/regional-plan

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:

  • Tuesday, June 8th at 10:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, June 15th at 10:00 a.m. (If required)
  • Tuesday, June 29th at 10:00 a.m.

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.

  • June 26, 6pm

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

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

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:

  • June meeting canceled

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

  • NEW BIRMINGHAM ST from SPRING GARDEN RD to CLYDE ST, starting on 2021-05-03
  • NEW REGINA TERR from BELLEVUE AVE to BEAUFORT AVE, starting on 2021-05-27
  • NEW BRENTON ST from SPRING GARDEN RD to CLYDE ST, starting on 2021-04-30
  • NEW SPRING GARDEN RD from SOUTH PARK ST to DRESDEN ROW, starting on 2021-05-09
  • 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
  • ARGYLE ST from PRINCE ST to BLOWERS ST, starting on 2021-04-15
  • SOUTH ST from ROCKCLIFFE ST to OXFORD ST, starting on 2021-04-19
  • CORNWALLIS ST from NORTH PARK ST to BAUER ST, starting on 2021-04-20
  • 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.

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.

Census of Population – underway now
As you know the Census is a major national undertaking. It is one of the most important sources of information for planning public transit, schools, roads, hospitals, businesses, and a number of programs and initiatives that contribute to the strength and health of communities such as those which are in the Halifax area.

The census is key to make important decisions to ensure programs and services can continue to support more diverse and inclusive communities. Census data was extensively used by a number of federal, provincial, and municipal organizations during this pandemic and will be key to inform our plans for the recovery.  Accurate census data tells HRM staff and council where people live, work, what their challenges are, how they travel, and so many other things, it is simply critical data needed so we can make good and informed municipal decisions.

This year, Statscan has completely redesigned the Census collection to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic. Households across the country have received a letter with a secure access code and instructions on how to complete their census. To ensure everyone’s health and safety, we encourage people to complete the census online, on their smartphone, tablet, computer, via census.gc.ca. People will also be able to request to complete your census on paper or by phone.  More info on the Census can be obtained via our website. https://census.gc.ca/index-eng.htm

Halifax Port Authority looking for public feedback on sustainability goals
The Halifax Port Authority (HPA) wants to hear community feedback on its sustainability goals and initiatives. The HPA is creating a sustainability strategy that will guide future planning and operations. As a part of the process, the organization is seeking input to ensure the framework is reflective of the larger community and its values.

To engage people in the conversation, everyone is invited to complete this short survey. The answers will help lay the foundation for future Port of Halifax initiatives. The survey is expected to take approximately ten minutes to complete and individual results will be kept confidential.

Curbside Giveaway Weekend paused
We can’t be free of our unwanted household items just yet. Due to Public Health advisories, Curbside Giveaway Weekend has been postponed until further notice. Learn about Curbside Give Away etiquette, tips, and stay tuned for new dates here.

Coronavirus Update #45 – more updates and resources

Fight COVID-19 with a jab!
Eligible Nova Scotians can book vaccine appointments across the municipality. The shot just isn’t for you; it’s to protect your family, your friends, and our community! Many Nova Scotians can book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment online today.

Regular appointments: https://novascotia.flow.canimmunize.ca/en/9874123-19-7418965
Drive-thru appointments: https://novascotia.flow.canimmunize.ca/en/8675309
Or, call 1-833-797-7772 to book by phone (7am- 10pm, 7 days a week)

NS Power pole replacement info
As part of some of the new pole work in the area, there has been some fill (debris) left in areas where new poles were placed. This fill was left with the intention to use it when the old poles are removed which is the usual procedure. Working within COVID restrictions has meant some of this work has taken longer than expected and some residents were concerned it was being left permanently.

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/

NS Supports for Small Businesses [Update – May 4, 2021] – Province of Nova Scotia
The province has announced the rollout of several support measures for small businesses to respond to the third wave of COVID-19 and provincial lockdowns. These supports include:

  • $12 million for Part 3 of the Small Business Impact Grant (discussed further below).
  • The province will defer provincial fees until June 30, 2021 for small businesses required to close or significantly curtailed operations as a result of the April public health restrictions.
  • Workers’ compensation premium payments will be deferred until July 2021.
  • Applications for Part 2 of the previously announced Tourism Accommodations Real Property Tax Rebate Program are open as of May 4, 2021.
  • Applications for the previously announced Small Business Real Property Tax Rebate Program will open the week of May 10, 2021. Source.

Small Business Impact Grant – Part 3 [May 4, 2021] – Province of Nova Scotia
The province has announced that it will invest over $12 million for Part 3 of the Small Business Impact Grant, which provides grants of up to $5,000 for Nova Scotia businesses directly affected by the April 2021 health restrictions. Eligible businesses will receive a one-time grant of 15 percent of their sales revenue for the month of April 2019 or February 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000. Applications will be open by May 19, 2021. Further details on eligibility available hereSource.

Reaching Home – Community Capacity & Innovation Stream Call for Proposals [May 4, 2021] – Government of Canada
The government has announced the launch of a call for proposals under the Community Capacity and Innovation Stream of the Reaching Home Initiative. The call for proposals seeks to support scalable projects that will test and develop innovative approaches to addressing homelessness. $6 million will be committed for this call for proposals, starting in 2021–22. Organizations, including municipalities, can apply for $100,000 to $600,000 in contribution funding over 3 years. Applications will be accepted between May 4, 2021 and June 11, 2021. Further details available hereSource.

Support for Halifax Partnership [May 7, 2021] – Province of Nova Scotia
The province has announced that it will provide $1.9 million to the Halifax Partnership to be used over the next three years to support economic recovery, promote resilience and competitiveness of the Halifax business community, and to help grow Halifax’s start-up ecosystem. 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