Remembrance Day, Centre Plan, Bill 63, more

In this issue

My Council Update contains information about tomorrow’s Remembrance Day events, the adoption of the Centre Plan, the Province’s unfortunate Bill 63, modular unit delay, bikelanes and the Morris Street trees, and crossing guard changes on South/LeMarchant and Robie/Oakland.

Public Meetings and Hearings are few as we approach winter break. Roadworks continue to have many projects as we approach the end of construction and paving season. Community Events is starting to look very festive, and finally, info on how to reach out and get help rounds out the update.

Councillor Update

Hello all,

I wanted to get this update out early today to let folks know about Remembrance Day 2021.

In Grand Parade, the ceremony at the Cenotaph is organized by the Canadian Legion – CBC reported that:
‘In Halifax, anyone who wants to stand on the Grand Parade grounds at city hall will be required to show proof of vaccination. 

Glen LeDuc, the co-ordinator for the Royal Canadian Legion’s Grand Parade ceremony, said there are options for anyone who is unvaccinated.  “They’re still welcome to watch from Argyle Street and it’s going to be streamed live on the CBC,” said LeDuc. “This is protecting everyone, including the veterans.”’

Article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/pandemic-rules-remembrance-day-1.6238291

I expect that space in Grand Parade will be limited.

For the Sailor’s Memorial in Point Pleasant Park, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) sent this update:

‘Due to COVID protection measures, participation in Remembrance Day ceremonies shall be restricted to CAF personnel directly tasked to officially represent the CAF at wreath-laying ceremonies, and other such individuals as outlined in our Administrative order which closely follows MARLANT direction in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Legion.

What this means is the following:

  • All CAF members not directly tasked to Remembrance Day events shall observe Remembrance Day ceremonies via virtual means only;
  • Official wreath-laying at Point Pleasant Park is restricted to Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic and CO HMCS Scotian; and
  • All other wreath-laying at Point Pleasant Park Cenotaph is at the discretion of the individual organization and restricted to before and after the official ceremony which will be between 10:45-11:30 AST.

This is not considered a public event; any spectators are respectfully requested to observe public health measures, including physical distancing and the wearing of masks.’

I will attend and stand with the audience at this event and lay a wreath after the official ceremony concludes.

I was unable to confirm if the ceremony at Royal Artillery Park is going ahead, I expect it is with similar rules to Point Pleasant Park.  Staff were able to confirm the Provincial ceremony at the Boer War memorial at Province House will go ahead while following public health guidelines.

Finally – as Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia, you can expect reduced services tomorrow – more info here: https://www.halifax.ca/home/news/municipal-service-level-adjustments-remembrance-day-2021

After a 3 hour public hearing capping 6 years of consultation, Centre Plan Package B passed unanimously & completed the Regional Centre MPS & LUB process.  This is the first new plan for both Halifax peninsula and Dartmouth inside the circ since the late 1970s.

This is a huge win for getting more houses and apartments while protecting heritage, increasing density through tall buildings, mid-rise, gentle density like backyard suites, internal conversions of houses, and secondary suites, and allowing tiny homes, all while preserving the character and appeal of the established and existing residential neighbourhoods.

The plan creates 10 new special areas to better protect the specific character of those areas, in terms of what size and look of the houses there can be, lot sizes, and other built characteristics.  The areas are Armview, Dartmouth North, Grant Street, Historic Dartmouth Neighbourhoods x 2 North End Halifax x 2, Oakland Road, Westmount, and Young Avenue.

The plan also proposes 13 new Heritage Conservation districts to provide deeper protection for those historic neighbourhoods.  These areas are Bloomfield, Brunswick Street, Creighton’s Field, Downtown Dartmouth, Five Corners, Fort Massey Historic Properties, Harbourview,  Historic Richmond and Hydrostone, Oakland Road, Victoria Road, Westmount, Young Avenue

When the Downtown plan was adopted in 2009 it listed a bunch of heritage it said “register these properties for protection later”. This was a mistake because those lots were given rights to build, and now the owners resist registering, which is a long process.

In the Centre Plan where a heritage area is proposed, the properties did NOT get more rights, in fact, generally, they are zoned down to what is already there – like the North End only allows 8m/two stories along Falkland/Bauer, etc.  This means from an economics and from a bottom-line point of view there is not a good reason to tear down a building in these areas, as they have to build the same size building to replace it.

All in all I am very happy to see this plan adopted.  I am convinced this is a good balance that puts clear rules in place, allows significant development to create needed housing where it makes the most sense and protects established residential zones and heritage while allowing gentle density.  For more info on what has changed in District 7, please read this blog I wrote in June – https://wayemason.ca/2021/06/11/proposed-changes-to-residential-zoning-centre-plan-package-b/

Unfortunately, this success was marred by the Province adopting Bill 61 and Bill 63, potentially taking away the municipality’s ability to control where development should and should not go.  I wrote a blog that concludes “If the Province wants some approvals done faster they can tell HRM to go faster with the power they already have. Let’s work together, in full view of the public, and not set aside transparency and democratic processes.” https://wayemason.ca/2021/11/05/recently-passed-bill-63-heavy-handed-and-unnecessary/

Since I wrote that a lot of folks have said one of two things, either “Council should say yes to everything” or “Council is in the back pocket of developers”.

To the folks who are saying the former, I say that we do need to approve things faster inside of frameworks that make sense.  I am happy to work on process improvements and meeting service standards and acknowledge we need improvement, but throwing away public input is not the way to do this.

To the folk saying the latter, I say that while sometimes Council makes decisions I don’t agree with, 99% of the time I think Council has gotten it right these last 9 years.  An example of the impact public input has is the thousands of changes to the Centre Plan from start to finish.  There are countless examples of where public engagement makes a real and positive difference in the end result.

But if you think “HRM is in the back pocket of developers” evidently some developers don’t feel that way, because those developers just took convinced the new Provincial government to pass a law that could be used to eliminate your power to influence any of this, and mine to vote on it, and gave control to an unelected provincial government-controlled committee that will meet behind closed doors

So hold on to your hats, we appear to be about to find out what a developer-run city is really like.

What is amazing to me is that the Province is moving in to do HRM’s job, while still not doing their own. 

Since 1996, the Province has been responsible for the construction and operation of affordable (public and not-for-profit) housing and also for shelters and support programs.  HRM supports this in several ways related to our role as the land use regulator and planner of how our community grows.

As they used to say at my kid’s daycare, “that is not your work.”  They should do their own work.

Right now HRM is doing the Province’s work by purchasing modular housing units to try and get people out of unsafe sheds and tents and into real and safe accommodations.

Unfortunately, the modular purchase has been delayed due to supply issues, which has also driven up the cost, but Regional Council voted to move ahead and spend the money and do this work.  You can read about it here: https://halifax.citynews.ca/local-news/city-purchasing-new-modular-units-out-of-the-cold-to-run-operations-4741613

I first proposed the idea of buying modular in July in a letter to the Provincial leaders. https://wayemason.ca/2021/07/29/questions-for-leaders-regarding-affordable-housing-in-halifax/  I thought the Province would do this thing, more fool me.

When it became clear there was no plan to do this, HRM started on this process seven weeks ago.  The delay is heartbreaking but understandable given this timeframe, and the modular plan is still the best and fastest way to get some decent housing set up quickly.

I’ll have more in a housing update next week.

Once again I wanted to send another update on the potential highly theoretical impacts of proposed bike lanes on the trees on Morris Street.

I do not support a bike lane on South St, as it would mean the bike lane would become far less useful, and even on the western approach to Queen heading east, it is a huge hill!

The options that could work for the east-west bike lane are University/Morris, or College/Clyde, both of which some residents oppose because of parking and concern about trees.

I think we can get a bike lane on Morris, and one of the options proposes to only remove 2-3 trees, and there may be an option to remove no trees if the street is made one way. Regardless, any tree removed must be replaced (following HRM policy), and the proposal ALSO talks of the potential plant a ton in the largely treeless section from Queen to Lower Water.

The HRM policy is that trees can be removed, but need to be replaced, and not like “huge old tree to one new skinny tree”. It includes rules around comparable total trunk diameters.

Finally – it is not fair to the cycling or broader community to not include an option for “this is how much needs to be done to do bike lanes, 2 lanes of traffic, keep the parking” and cut down a lot of trees. It was one of many options.

It is right and appropriate to show all the options to the public. Putting it forward as one option is not an endorsement, but it is fair to do so,.

But HRM is going into the second round of public consultation, and while some abutting residents simply want to control what is presented I don’t think that is fair and won’t support that.  We need a good, rational debate, and we need a bike lane folks will actually use.

A final note is there is a change coming to crossing guard locations on South St and Robie St. Starting  Monday, November 15th there will be a crossing guard at South St at LeMarchant. All students crossing South Street are encouraged to use this location.  The crossing guard will be removed from Robie at Oakland.  Students going to Gorsebrook are encouraged to cross at the lights at Robie and South.  Students going to Inglis are encouraged to go to the lights and crossing guard at Robie and Inglis.

Public Meetings, Hearings & Engagement

Halifax Regional Council – Halifax City Hall, Council Chambers
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, November 23, 10 am
·        Tuesday, December 7, 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.
·        Tuesday, November 16, 2021 6pm
Agenda here – https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Regional Centre Community Council – virtual or face to face meeting
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.
·        Wednesday, November 24 if required.
Agenda here – https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Public hearings
Public hearings are published 2-3 weeks before they take place.  There are no public hearings posted at this time.  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:
·        November 22, 4:00pm if required, possibly face to face
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
·        CARLTON ST from SPRING GARDEN RD to COLLEGE ST, starting on 2021-11-01
·        BISHOP ST from HOLLIS ST to LOWER WATER ST, starting on 2021-11-04
·        BARRINGTON ST from HARVEY ST to SOUTH ST, starting on 2021-11-03
·        GRANVILLE ST from DUKE ST to HOLLIS ST, starting on 2021-11-02
·        DRESDEN ROW from SPRING GARDEN RD to CLYDE ST, starting on 2021-10-30
·        SHIRLEY ST from WALNUT ST to CHESTNUT ST, starting on 2021-10-28
·        SHIRLEY ST from CHESTNUT ST to PRESTON ST, starting on 2021-11-02
·        TOWER RD from TOWER TERR to INGLIS ST, starting on 2021-10-27
·        BARRINGTON ST from HARVEY ST to SOUTH ST, starting on 2021-11-03
·        GRANVILLE ST from DUKE ST to HOLLIS ST, starting on 2021-11-02
·        CARLTON ST from SPRING GARDEN RD to COLLEGE ST, starting on 2021-11-01
·        BISHOP ST from HOLLIS ST to LOWER WATER ST, starting on 2021-11-04

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

Other Projects:

NEW – Heritage Gas has planned work at 6164 Quinpool Road on Monday November 15, for a natural gas pipeline installation and temporary restoration.  All work to be completed 9am-4pm; two-way traffic will be maintained.  Contractors will be onsite to saw-cut asphalt Friday in preparation for Friday’s work.

Cathedral Lane, University Avenue & South Park Street Sewer Separation Project – I have asked Halifax Water for an update as it seems to be on hold  which I will share next update.  This project was scheduled for May to early December 2021.  More info and contacts here: http://halifaxwater.ca/project/cathedral-ln-south-park-st-sewer-separation

Community Events and Info

A seat at the table – serve on a board, committee, or commission
Applications due November 15
The Municipal Clerk’s Office has begun the fall recruitment process for applicants to serve on boards, committees, and commissions. This recruitment period begins on Friday, October 29, 2021, and goes until Monday, November 15, 2021.
www.Halifax.ca/serve

BMO Bid For Change
Ends November 18 | Online Auction
The AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia is hosting our BMO Bid For Change on Nov 19. This year will be an online auction that runs between Nov 5 and Nov 18, which will feature packages of items donated to us by incredible businesses locally and nationally. Though it will be a virtual event this year, we still have plenty of surprises and some fantastic items for ticket buyers to bid on. We have everything from getaways and airfare (two tickets anywhere in the world WestJet flies!) to Dining Around Town packages, and we were hoping you would consider encouraging your constituents to support our organization through this event. ACNS works to provide HIV prevention education, support for people living with HIV, and to reduce HIV stigma within our province. Even with vast improvements in medicine, the importance of helping people understand and learn about HIV/AIDS remains. We encourage you, colleagues, friends and the community to buy tickets, donate or become more knowledgable about what we do at ACNS. For more information and to buy tickets, visit https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/t/bmo-bid-foraaa-change-3c311141dd

HRM’s Volunteer Conference – You’re Invited
November 19 | Doubletree Hilton in Dartmouth
Volunteers are truly the heart of our community. In less than two weeks, on November 19th, Halifax’s Volunteer Conference is happening at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Wyse Rd., Dartmouth – it’s an opportunity for residents to expand their network & participate in training to become more effective volunteers and provide stronger services throughout the municipality.  Learn more about the conference and register up to 48h before each workshop by visiting www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/volunteering/volunteer-conference

Impact Speaker Series: Elevating Indigenous Businesses
November 19 1:30-4:30pm | Scotiabank Theatre in the Sobey School of Business.
We are pleased to present Elevating Indigenous Businesses, the inaugural event in our Sobey School of Business. This event offers an opportunity to consider and discuss what Truth and Reconciliation means in a business context, offers insight into Indigenous worldview on the modern economy and will feature:
– an Indigenous cultural experience, featuring L’nu drumming and dancing
– a keynote address from prominent author and academic, Carol Anne Hilton
– a panel discussion among established and emerging Indigenous business and community leaders
Registration required.
https://www.smu.ca/sobeyspeakerseries/

Craft Nova Scotia Winter Craft Show
Friday November 19, 9:30am- 9pm | Sunnyside Mall
Join CraftNS for the return of our annual Winter Craft Show!  Featuring over 40 juried craftspeople, including works in clay, fibre, food, glass, leather, metal, organics, visual art and wood. Find that special handcrafted piece from some of your longtime favourite artists, and discover new fine craftspeople along the bright, spacious halls of the Sunnyside Mall. https://www.facebook.com/events/566272887792583

Evergreen Festival 2021
Friday Nov 26 – December 1 | Downtown Halifax Waterfront
Evergreen Festival is a 4-week-long outdoor winter showcase of Nova Scotian culture, food, spirits, craft, art, and memorable experiences to celebrate and embrace the essence of the season. Retailers, restaurants, hotels, attractions, public spaces throughout the Halifax region will bring to life illuminations, programming, and animations that create a festive feeling of celebration! https://www.evergreenfestns.com/

North by Night Holiday Market
Saturday 27 November 2-9pm | 2537 Agricola S
We are takin’ it to the streets! Get ready to kick off the Holiday Season with a North-by-Night Holiday Market Open Street Edition! Agricola Street with be closed off to traffic from North to Woodhill, with activities all along the route. Live Music, Beer Garden & warmmmm Mulled Wine, in-store specials, Local Artisans, Family Activities, and more. https://www.facebook.com/events/405327131088158/

Takin’ BLK The Holidays
Sunday November 28 4-8pm | 1496 Lower Water St
Takin’ BLK is back at the Halifax Brewery Farmers Market, this time with a holiday themed market Founded by two local African Nova Scotian women, Taking BLK is a grassroots vendors market born in the North End of Halifax featuring 30+ Black/African Nova Scotian upcoming, new and emerging businesses The variety of business and goods extend from art, clothing, jewellery, skin care, food, baked goods and more. https://www.facebook.com/events/391382532722178

Halifax Christmas Tree Lighting
Saturday, November 27th 6:00pm – 7:00pm | Grand Parade.
This is a free event featuring:  Santa Claus, the lighting of the HRM Christmas Tree, fireworks, the premiere of the City Hall holiday projection show, Zamani band as well as Stephane Gaudet & Rebecca Guilderson holiday songs hosted by Ventriloquist Michael Harrison. Audience members 12 years old and older have to show proof of double vaccination to enter the event site.
https://www.halifax.ca/parks-recreation/events/halifax-christmas-tree-lighting

Menorah Lighting
December 2021 | Grand Parade
The Annual Lighting of the Menorah in Grand Parade will take place in December 2021.  More info will be available here: https://www.halifax.ca/parks-recreation/events/menorah-lighting

Senior Snow Removal Program
Accepting Applications now
Removing snow around your property can be a challenging – or even impossible – task for many people. There is help available: the Halifax Regional Municipality provides an annual contribution of $400,000 in support of the YMCA for its Snow Removal Program for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.  To find out more about this program and to apply, please call the YMCA at 902.483.3678 or visit the YMCA online: https://ymcahfx.ca/community-initiatives/ymca-senior-snow-removal/

Community Grants Program Preapplication inquires welcome
Deadline March 31, 2022 | Online
HRM’s Community Grams Program offers funding for community projects led by registered, non-profit organizations and charities throughout the Halifax region. There are project grants of up to $5,000 and capital grants of up to $25,000.   A wide variety of projects are eligible for the grants such as publishing maps or guidebooks, creating interpretive panels, buying safety equipment, or renovating a building for community use.  While you cannot apply yet for 2022, you can contact the Grants office for general inquiries at this time: NonProfitGrants@halifax.ca. Applications will be accepted starting in January and up until March 31, 2022.

Applications Open for Heating Assistance Rebate Program
Open Now to March 31, 2022
Help with home heating costs is available for Nova Scotians living on low incomes. Applications for the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) open today, October 18, for the 2021-22 heating season.  The annual program provides a rebate of up to $200 to low-income Nova Scotians who pay for their own heat. The income threshold to qualify for the program is $29,000 for single-income households and $44,000 for family-income households. Applications are available at http://www.novascotia.ca/heatinghelp and through Access Nova Scotia, Community Services and MLA offices.
Additional Resources:

 

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,

Call my office
Call my office for assistance with your municipal issues. Please try 311 first, and when you call 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