Tragedies in Kamloops and London, Spring Garden, Centre Plan review, Coronavirus Update 46

In This Issue

My Council Update is talks briefly about the tragedies in London and Kamloops, Spring Garden Road, and very importantly the draft Centre Plan package B.

Public Meetings and Hearing includes details about the Regional Plan review and upcoming council meetings.  Roadworks includes two new projects. Community Events reminds folks about the District Capital Grant Deadline and the Regional Plan review.  Coronavirus Update #46 has some government resource updates. This issue ends with info on how to reach out and get help on municipal issues.

Councillor Update

The last two weeks have been very hard for all of us, and especially for our First Nations and Muslim community members.

The horrifying news of 215 children in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School filled me with sadness and frustration.  The discovery of this mass burial is a heart-wrenching reminder of the tragic history and lasting impacts of Canada’s residential school system.

Here in HRM, flags were lowered to half-mast on municipal properties on May 31st to honour and mourn these children and to recognize all who lost their lives or were impacted in any way through the residential school system. The flags remained at half-mast for 215 hours, until sunset on June 8. City Hall was also illuminated in orange each evening through June 7.

This last week in London, Ontario, a family was out for an evening walk they were struck by a vehicle. Four members of the family were killed and a nine-year-old boy was seriously injured.  This was a planned and premeditated act motivated by hate, and this innocent family was targeted for being Muslim.

I stand in solidarity with all our First Nations and Muslim residents. I will continue to work with the Mayor, my colleagues, and staff to work with our residents both now and in the long term to do everything we can in support you now and always.

A lot of folks are already finding the pandemic extremely stressful. 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)

The day has arrived! The long-awaited Spring Garden Streetscape Plan began June 7th.

I want to thank Sue Uteck and all the staff at the Spring Garden Area Business Association for their hard work providing an essential link between HRMs excellent and hard-working staff, the contractors, the businesses, and residents.

They have a great communications plan rolling out now and area businesses will be running specials and incentives for residents to drop by and shop.  There will be pedestrian access throughout the project, so you can continue to shop in the area for the duration.  The project should wrap up in November.

More info and links to social media here http://www.springgardenarea.com/

I’ve had over 800 pages of reading to do the last two weeks, as the Regional Plan, the Centre Plan Package B latest draft, the Affordable Housing Commission report, and all the other reports for committees and council  Feels like I am back in grad school!

Two big things are happening right now that residents should be engaged with, as they will determine how our municipality and neighborhoods grow and change for decades.  First is the Centre Plan, second is the Regional Plan I wrote about last newsletter.

Homeowners and residents of District 7 need to be aware of the proposed changes to residential zoning under the Centre Plan. I am excited by these proposals and want to hear from you about your thoughts!

The goal of the Centre Plan has always been to put development where it made sense, on busy corridors with good transit and which have sewer and water capacity and nearby parks, and to protect the character of our residential neighbourhoods while continuing to allow “gentle density”.

The Centre Plan draft in 2017 proposed 16% of the regional centres’ population growth taking place in established residential neighbourhoods and small apartments (higher order residential) on corridors. This can be achieved with the proposal below, with minimal impact on the feel of these neighbourhoods.  I have done my best to explain the proposed changes in what follows.

Gentle density is density that can occur without the kind of disruption we have seen some of the internal conversions overloaded with bedrooms and residents bring to our streets. It’s about smaller units in backyard and basement suites, but available to a broader range of properties, not just those with large lots.

I think that the proposal to standardize the approach in ER-1 and Er-2 with more modest multi-unit rights regardless of lot size makes a lot of sense. I described this to some residents not as an upzoning or downzoning but a “side zoning”. It is achieving the same intent as the current rules in a clearer to understand, and less impactful way.

I am very impressed with the proposal for rezoning District 7’s established residential neighbourhoods. Both the R1 and R2 zones that we’ve had since the late 70s/early 80s are complicated and allow significant rights, often based on lot size or other considerations, and I think removing those makes sense. I see edits and concerns specifically around Young Avenue and a few minor changes to zoning here and there, but overall, I am very pleased.  It is not perfect! I have a laundry list of things to tweak.  But it is I think very good.

I wrote a detailed description of the proposed changes here in a separate blog, please share, please let me know what you think: https://wayemason.ca/2021/06/11/proposed-changes-to-residential-zoning-centre-plan-package-b/

Public Meetings, Hearings & Engagement

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 29 at 10:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, July 20 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 22, 6pm

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

Regional Centre 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 28, 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 21, 4:00pm

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  BEAUFORT AVE from SOUTH ST to DALHOUSIE ST, starting on 2021-06-12
  • NEW  SPRING GARDEN ROAD from QUEEN ST to SOUTH PARK ST, starting 2021-06-07

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 –. 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.  More info and contacts here: http://halifaxwater.ca/project/cathedral-ln-south-park-st-sewer-separation

Community Events

District 7 Community Capital Grants | Deadline June 28
IMPORTANT NOTE: due to ongoing and needed COVID-19 restrictions Participatory Budgeting cannot take place this year. This year residents and groups in District 7 are invited to apply for District Capital Funding. Residents are asked to submit applications by 5pm Monday, June 28, 2021.  There are two project streams.

  • A big projects category will fund up to $10,000, of which four projects will be funded.
  • A small project category will fund up to $5,000 or less, of which up to ten projects will be funded.
  • A total of $95,000 will be distributed in early June after staff review and decision by Councillor Mason.

More info here: https://wayemason.ca/pb

Regional Plan Review | First engagement deadline July 16
The Regional Plan sets out a common vision, principles, and long-range, region-wide planning policies outlining where, when, and how future growth and development should take place between now and 2031.

This includes topics such as affordable housing, identification of wilderness areas, the impact of COVID-19, population growth, and more.  You can help decide how Halifax will grow by sharing your input.

Municipal staff are currently consulting with the public for feedback on the Regional Plan Review Themes & Directions. This document shares ideas about key planning issues. The feedback staff receive will help them understand what residents think is important and will direct future work.

You’re invited to submit comments by July 16, 2021You may also submit questions via email or by phone during this public engagement period until July 16: Call and leave a voicemail at 902-233-2501 or email regionalplan@halifax.ca.

Coronavirus Update #46 – government program update

Bedford Row

Bedford Row last summer

We’re all ready to enjoy summer – safely! To do this, Nova Scotia’s provincial government outlined a 5-phase reopening plan to safely ease restrictions. The phased plan is based on ongoing progress of provincewide vaccination rates and improvements of public health and healthcare indicators like COVID-19 activity and hospitalizations. Vaccinations are now open to individuals 12 and over. If you haven’t yet received your first dose yet, you can book online today.

The Halifax Regional Municipality also continues to monitor and respond to the rapidly evolving effects of COVID-19. As part of the Halifax Mobility Response Plan, the following changes went into effect on Wednesday, June 2 to coincide with the opening of businesses downtown and to safely allow restaurants to operate patios.

Grafton Street
Grafton Street, between Carmichael and Prince streets, will be temporarily converted into a one-way, southbound street also to allow for additional patio space. Sidewalks will remain open on both sides of the road. Parking and loading spaces will not be impacted while this adjustment is in place.

Bedford Row
Bedford Row, between the Founders Square parking garage and Prince Street, will be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic to allow for additional patio space. The area between the Founders Square parking garage and Sackville Street will be converted from one-way to two-way traffic. To accommodate this adjustment, the east side of Bedford Row will be converted to a No Stopping/Tow-away zone. Access to the parking garage and businesses in the area will be maintained.  Cyclist access will not be permitted in this area; however, Bedford Row will remain fully open to pedestrians.
For the most up to date information on the Halifax Mobility Response: Streets and Spaces, follow @hfxgov on Twitter or visit Halifax.ca. For more information on municipal services during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit halifax.ca/coronavirus.

Parking In Downtown
To try and encourage folks to come back downtown to eat or shop, the municipality will cover HotSpot pay-per-use fees  for a period of three months up to $15,000, cover set up costs and the first year of subscription fees of a merchant validation program for up to 200 merchants, to be administered by the Business Improvement Districts;  offer free on-street pay parking between 4-6 pm on the following days, provided there are no public health directives that would cancel the programming:

  • June 17,18,24,25
  • July 2,8,9,15,16,22,23,29,30
  • August 5,6,12,13,19,20,26,27
  • September 3, 4, 10, 11

Canada Child Benefit Supplement [May 28, 2021] – Government of Canada
The government has announced that families entitled to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will receive a one-time supplement of up to $1,200 for each child under the age of six. The temporary measure is intended to provide support to families coping with the financial pressures of the pandemic. The amount of the benefit will vary depending on household income. The payments will be made in installments, with the first issued on May 28, 2021, and subsequent payments in July and October 2021. Source.

Funding for Permanent Transitional Housing in Halifax [May 31, 2021] – Province of Nova Scotia
The province has announced $6.4 million in funding to create permanent supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness in Halifax and the Annapolis Valley. $3.5 million of this will be allocated to the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia to purchase properties in the Halifax area which will be used to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness in high-need categories. The province has committed an addition $1.8 million per year to cover annual operational costs and on-site client services, such as clinical care, peer support, addictions and mental health supports. Source.

Women’s Employment Readiness (WER) Pilot Program [June 2, 2021] – Government of Canada
The government has launched a call for proposals under the new Women’s Employment Readiness (WER) pilot program. The WER pilot program will seek to support an inclusive recovery by funding new approaches for helping marginalized women re-enter the workforce, providing pre-employment training supports and testing new models to improve workplace inclusivity. $50 million in funding is committed to the program over two years, beginning in 2021. Municipalities are included as eligible applicants. Applications are due by June 30, 2021. Further details on project eligibility and the application process available hereSource.

Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) [Update – June 3, 2021] – Government of Canada
The government has released details on the proposed Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP), which was originally announced in the 2021/22 Federal Budget and is currently before Parliament (Bill C-30). The CRHP will support hard-hit businesses by providing a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of eligible wages to hire workers or increase wages/working hours as the economy reopens. The program will be open to eligible employers who have experienced qualifying revenue declines. The Department of Finance has announced that support under the program will be available retroactively, with the eligibility period being June 6, 2021 to November 20, 2021. Further details on CRHP available hereSource.

Extension of Federal COVID-19 Business Support Programs [Update – June 3, 2021] – Government of Canada
The Department of Finance has announced that it will be extending a number of federal COVID-19 support programs which were set to expire in June 2021. These extensions include:

 

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