It’s time to face the cost of taking action on climate change.

In this issue

My Council Update is about the need to take action to address climate change, and to face that cost head on.

Public Meetings and Hearings are few and far between as we enter into December. Roadworks is emptying as the cold weather ends construction season. Community Events continues to approach normalcy, and finally, info on how to reach out and get help rounds out the update.

Councillor Update

Hello all,

I had intended to write extensively about a number of issues including completing my annual report card on status of my election promises but I’ll come back to that in two weeks’ time. A more urgent matter requires all of our attention.

This week, we’ve battened down for an extraordinary storm, and while most of urban HRM escaped with minimal impact, up to 80% of the Eastern Shore was without power for much of Tuesday.

As the storm rolled north news got worse, with serious flooding and damage in Guysborough and Antigonish, and the declaration of a State of Emergency in Victoria and Inverness County.

This follows the terrifying flooding and damage in BC last week, last summer’s heat dome that killed 595 people in BC., and many more serious weather events.

About a year ago, the then Vice President Operations of NS Power showed me a chart, which showed the annual hours of wind above 70 kph as measured at the four airports in Nova Scotia. High winds had increased by two and half times since the 1990s. There is more energy in the atmosphere, and we are seeing the impacts every day around the world, and here at home.

Events like the flooding in BC and emergency in Cape Breton will happen more frequently, and get more and more severe, because of climate change.

Yesterday, Halifax Regional Council had our first debate about a proposed 5.9% increase on the average tax bill. The proposed increase contains a proposed 3% climate change tax.

In 2019 Halifax Regional Council declared a climate emergency. On June 2020 HalifACT 2050: Acting on Climate Change Together Plan was passed.

HalifACT 2050 is a community response to the climate crisis, a plan for a healthy and resilient future, and a commitment to a net-zero community by 2050.

HRM’s commitment is moving even faster, with a goal to hit the municipal carbon goals by 2030.  This is just eight budget years away.

HalifACT 2050 is our community response to the climate crisis and will build a more resilient and healthy future in Atlantic Canada while preparing for current and future climate impacts.

HalifACT is more than a plan – it’s a commitment to reducing emissions, switching to clean and reliable energy sources and demonstrating local government leadership.

This transformational plan aligns the municipality’s efforts to support an equitable shift to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. HalifACT is one of the most ambitious climate action movements in Canada.

What is the money for?  How will we do this?  The plan calls for decarbonized and resilient infrastructure, prepared and connected communities, oversee with governance and leadership.

To build a decarbonized future we need to make all our buildings that HRM owns efficient while supporting residents and businesses to do the same.  We need to support renewable energy production through both supporting solar on HRM buildings and individual homes, but also by buying more expensive green energy, modeled on the Canadian government’s green energy mandate.

We need to think about coastal preparedness, food security, community capacity, and emergency management.  In places we need to retreat from the ocean, moving roads, community assets, and people away from rising water.

And we need to do this through an equity lens – lower-income homeowners struggle to get their foot in the door with deep energy retrofits – the cost of updating an electrical panel before you can daunting, and this kind of work has to be done before you can even contemplate an EV car charger or solar panels on a roof.  So we need grants and supports that are means-tested to make sure no one is left behind.

All of this will cost a tremendous amount, both for HRM and for all of us individually.

In the long run, this is projected to save you money.  The plan estimates that in today’s dollars, the average household energy cost was $5220 in 2020.  With energy retrofits fully implemented, the average household energy cost would drop to $1458 in today’s dollars by 2050.  Business would drop from $315 million a year to $117 million.

The 3% climate change tax would mean HRM has $24 million dollars to fund HalifACT 2050 for the first four years. This money is largely for operating costs to enable programs that will be funded through debt and Federal and Provincial cost-sharing.

I know people are tired, angry, and weary after 94 weeks of COVID.  I know that being asked to pay more tax is frustrating for some, and could be punishing for others.

Economists and activists have been saying “a “war-level footing” is required to have any hope of repairing the damage”‘ of climate change, and I think this is true.  

To address climate change we will need to see extraordinary budgets like we’ve seen during COVID for at least the next decade if we want to have a hope of slowing and mitigating catastrophic change.

Simply put, it will cost us all a ton of money to meet this challenge and save ourselves and our future.  Every year we wait, the cost goes up, and the damage we will all experience gets worse. We have to act, and it will cost.

The cost and impact of doing nothing is far higher in the short and long term than investing in our future, and our children’s future.

For that reason, I am supporting fully funding HalifACT 2050.  This would almost certainly require a significant tax increase in the 3% range for this alone.

I know many of you disagree with me, but I think, I hope, most residents of HRM agree climate change must be addressed.

So now, I need your help.  Council will continue the debate on this budget direction this Friday, November 26, 10am.

If you think the time to act is now, we need to hear from you.  Please and write to the Mayor and Council via mayor@halifax.ca and clerks@halifax.ca, share this with your friends and family who live outside of District 7, and ask them to email their Councillor, and ask them to support full funding for HalifACT 2050.

Public Meetings, Hearings & Engagements

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, December 7, 10 am
  • Tuesday, December 14, 10 am

Agendas here: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=127
Budget Committee – Halifax City Hall, Council Chambers
If you want to read reports coming to Budget (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda. Upcoming meetings:

  • Friday, November 26, 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.

  • Wednesday, December 15, 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, December 8, 2021 6pm 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

  • CORNWALLIS ST from MAITLAND ST to GOTTINGEN ST, starting on 2021-11-15
  • MAITLAND ST from PRINCE WILLIAM ST to CORNWALLIS ST, starting on 2021-11-15

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

Other Projects:

Update on Cathedral Lane, University Avenue & South Park Street Sewer Separation Project –Funding approvals at the NSUARB took longer than expected and Halifax Water ended up missing the construction season is 2020. They had full intention of then doing the work in 2021 but it became apparent that the measures Halifax needed to take in rerouting traffic and buses around the Spring Garden Road project made completing this project in 2021 not viable.  It will be tendered early next year.

Community Events and Info

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

Spencer House Giving Tuesday
Tuesday November 30th | Online

#givingtuesday is a day dedicated to giving back.  This year Spencer House is again partnering with Give65, a program of Home Instead Charities, which will match your donations up to $5000!  While 2021 was another difficult year for older adults, Spencer House has been there to help keep seniors happy, healthy and connected to their community as they age in place.  Please consider supporting Spencer House as they work to support others!  You can make a donation here:  https://www.give65.ca/spencerhouseseniors

KI’KWA’JU: Reimagining Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf
Wednesday December 1, 2021 7:30 | Rebecca Cohn Auditorium (Dalhousie University)

Prokofiev’s 1936 symphonic fairy tale Peter and the Wolf is a childhood classic, introducing the instruments of the orchestra through the story of a Russian boy working with his animal friends to defeat a wolf. In Ki’kwa’ju, we seek to tell a new story about our relationships to the land, to one another, and to the hard work of reconciliation. This concert presents a full performance of Prokofiev’s score, with a narrated story that moves events to our region in Mi’kma’ki. The Dal Symphony Orchestra is joined by Mi’kmaw artists and storytellers, and the program includes traditional Mi’kmaq singing, dancing, and storytelling.  https://www.facebook.com/events/1077010983049705

Brunch for Bryony with Neville
Sunday December 5, 11:30 | Atlantica Hotel Halifax

Gather your friends, family and co-workers for an event you won’t soon forget! Join Neville MacKay for an afternoon of floral designs, silent and live auctions and lots of laughter – all in support of Bryony House. Don’t miss this event. Limited seating is available and tickets will sell out quickly! https://www.facebook.com/events/4195473570579814/

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel – Get Me Through December
Thursday December 9, 2021 7:30-9:30pm | St. Andrew’s United Coburg Road

We are BACK! The Halifax Gay Mans Choir is proud to present our first in person concert in 2 years with our annual holiday holiday offering, Don We Now Our Gay Apparel. Get Me Through December serves as a celebration of song, friendship and family during the holiday season and is a reminder that regardless of what we have been through over the past few years, we have so much to be thankful for! Tickets available NOW at www.hgmc.ca More info:  https://www.facebook.com/events/425038609210099

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