As promised here is an update on steps being taken to reduce the kind of trouble we sometimes see with students and disruption in the neighbourhoods around the universities in Halifax.
Last week I was joined by Mayor Savage, CAO Jacque Dube, HRM staff and the Chief of Police in a meeting with Dalhousie President Saini and some of his senior staff. We discussed the events and how we can work together to address the neighbourhoods’ concerns. Another meeting to focus on some nitty-gritty issues is planned for early next year.
Another new development is the interest of the Central Zone Mental Health and Addictions Health Promotion Team who are engaging with the community regarding unsanctioned street parties through a lens of community mental wellness. I will share more information about this as I get it.
Another is a group of residents have started a new community association, the Halifax University Neighbourhoods Association, or HUNA. Their focus is to ensure safe and respectful neighbourhoods. They are setting up their email and website right now and I will share that contact information when I get it.
Finally, in my first email, I outlined a number of areas of concern in the days after the Larch/Jennings unsanctioned street parties, and I wanted to let you know about progress on these actions.
- Control the disruption caused by late-night food in a residential zone at Preston and Jubilee – I made a motion in November to create a general application bylaw to control hours of operation for legacy grocery stores in residential neighbourhoods. I expect this to come back in the Spring of 2021
- Finish the rental registration and inspection bylaw and bring it to council (it was due in April but COVID delayed) – this report has been delayed, and I have asked the CAO to personally ensure it gets to Council by March/April 2022.
- Provide updated signs on the schoolyards – our beloved parks Superintendent Alana Tapper has moved to a new job as head of Parks and Rec in East Hants, and this got dropped during the changeover. I am doing a district tour next week with the acting superintendent and this is top of the list.
Halifax Regional Police
- Discuss where warning ends and enforcement begins, both in terms of street parties, and noise complaints – police and Dalhousie will meet again in January and clear and consistent language will be developed that HRP, HRM and Dal will use about how warnings will progress to enforcement next year.
- Understand what will change going forward and how that will be communicated to the neighbourhood and students – see above
- Public reporting and accountability for tickets and arrests during the back-to-school period, and comparisons to past years, so trends can be recognized – the police have the preliminary data and I expect to get it any day but I couldn’t hold this update any longer. It is confirmed though that tickets were up significantly this last year.
- Reconsider the dry campus policy – Dalhousie has pointed out they don’t have a dry campus, and discussion around how to provide good harm reduction strategies when underage drinking inevitably occurs will be a part of the public health review I mentioned above.
- Restore funding to a Dal Patrol – this will be discussed in the January meeting
- Public reporting and accountability for the general consequences from internal discipline process and comparisons to past years so trends can be recognized – the new Code of Conduct at Dal will result in an annual report each Fall. I have asked if interim data can be provided for the Fall back period, that would align with the police data. Dalhousie is considering this request.